Who Had a Good Week:
Brandon Sutter- Sutter put up four points in three games this week, played a bunch of shorthanded minutes, and caused an opponent (Ian Cole) to get fined $5000. That probably makes this the most productive week in Sutter’s career as a Canuck thus far!
Jussi Jokinen- Jokinen had a great personal game against Columbus, notching three points versus a club that had previously cast him off as a cap dump at the Trade Deadline. He added an assist against Edmonton for four points on the week, and one wonders if he’s playing well enough currently to earn him one more NHL contract next year.
Nikolay Goldobin- Goldobin is doing everything he can to prove he belongs at the NHL level. His defensive lapses have been less common and far less noticeable, and he’s looking like a natural on a scoring line. He had a goal and an assist this week, but looked more dangerous than those numbers would suggest.
Ashton Sautner- Sautner didn’t receive a ton of minutes this week, but he played some safe and efficient defense when he was out there. By the game against Columbus, Sautner was up to 15 minutes, and he may just have more of an NHL future than anyone gave him credit for.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Segment Retired For The Season—As Todd Bertuzzi always says, “It is what it is,” at this point, no need for negativity.
There are a number of players that could join the Utica Comets for their playoffs after the Canucks’ regular season is complete. Thatcher Demko will be returned shortly. Nikolay Goldobin, Reid Boucher, and Ashton Sautner are obvious choices, as they’ve all played the majority of their seasons for Utica. Tyler Motte was also “papered” to Utica at the Trade Deadline, so he’s a good bet.
Darren Archibald would have to clear waivers to go down at this point, so he’s unlikely. Jake Virtanen was never papered, so he can’t go. I’m unsure as to Adam Gaudette’s eligibility. I think he is technically eligible, having signed after the Deadline, but perhaps unlikely to join as Brock Boeser did not last year.
Kole Lind will also be joining Utica shortly, and Jonathan Dahlen remains a possibility. Michael DiPietro’s season just ended, but he has a reported injury and was unlikely to see any time with Utica in any case. It’s still technically possible that Olli Juolevi and Elias Pettersson could sign with Utica if their teams exit the playoffs early, but the World Hockey Championship is a better bet for those two.
Now that the Comets have clinched a playoff spot, the challenge becomes avoiding the powerhouse Toronto Marlies in the first round. Utica took several steps toward that goal this week by putting up three straight wins, bringing them to within a point of passing Rochester for 3rd in the North Division.
The first game of the week was against said Americans, and although the Comets got the 3-2 win on the back of 31 Thatcher Demko saves, it was unfortunately an overtime victory, thus ceding Rochester a point. Michael Chaput scored twice, including the overtime winner, and assisted on Frankie Simonelli’s opening goal. Simonelli also added an assist, while Patrick Wiercioch had two.
Overtime would not be necessary on Friday, with the Richard Bachman-led Comets taking a 3-1 victory from Hersey back at home. Alexis D’Aoust scored twice, while Guillaume Brisebois notched two assists. Andrew Cherniwchan also had a goal, and Adam Comrie, Cole Cassels, and Wacey Hamilton all picked up single helpers.
Things got a little out of hand on Saturday with a 6-5 barnburner against Springfield, but Bachman and the Comets still walked away with a win. The enigmatic Lukas Jasek was signed to a PTO before the game and barely made it in time, arriving before his gear did. Despite the setback, Jasek scored the game-tying goal late in the third and added two assists in his AHL debut. Not wanting to be left out, Jalen Chatfield also scored his first professional goal, but the real heroics were reserved for captain Carter Bancks, who scored two goals, including the winner with 40 seconds remaining, and an assist. Simonelli and Michael Carcone also scored for the Comets, Wacey Hamilton had three assists, and Tanner MacMaster, Comrie, Chaput, Brisebois, and Cassels had singles.
The Week Ahead:
The final week of the 2017/18 Vancouver Canucks season is here:
Tuesday, April 3 at home against Vegas with a 7:00PM PST start.
Thursday, April 5 at home against Arizona with a 7:00PM PST start.
Saturday, April 7 at Edmonton with a 7:00PM PST start.
2018 Draft Eligible Prospect of the Week:
Jett Woo, D-
That’s right, I was saving the best (name) for last. Jett Woo, however, is more than just an action movie moniker. He’s a versatile WHL defenseman who plays a lot bigger than his 6’0”, 205 pound frame would suggest. In his second full season for the Moose Jaw Warriors, Woo has yet to break out offensively, with just 25 points in 44 games, but he’s a defensive rock described as an “old-school” presence on the blueline.
Like many defensemen in the 2018 Draft, Woo’s profile begins with his skating ability, which is described as “mobile” and “efficient” with great edgework. Although his point totals don’t reflect it, he is effective at rushing the puck, and is capable of managing an effective breakout.
Woo is a strong decision-maker who isn’t afraid to jump into the play when he senses an opportunity. That same instinct also allows him to step up and throw punishing checks whenever possible. Woo is the kind of defenseman who opponents always have to keep one eye open for, lest he pop out of nowhere and wreck their whole day.
And no, Jett Woo is of no relation to Mighty Ducks’ legend Kenny Wu, although their skating prowess is a notable similarity.
Here’s a great highlight video from Woo’s current WHL season:
Bits and Bobs:
-Many Canuck fans have tuned out at this point, and that’s understandable. However, this final week could be monumental for a couple of different reasons.
-Firstly, the Canucks’ odds in the upcoming 2018 Draft Lottery could be greatly impacted by the upcoming games, particularly the one against Arizona. Last place is almost guaranteed to go to Buffalo, but the Canucks are still in the “running” for second-last.
-More importantly, there have been recent hints that the Sedin twins could be retiring after the season. It’s still undetermined at this point, but if true, that would mean that Thursday’s game against Arizona would be the last home game in the twins’ career. I would hope that an announcement will come either way before the game occurs but, either way, fans might want to mark this one on their calendars.
-I’ll save any remarks on the Sedin legacy until the time they actually announce their retirements, whenever that might be. Suffice to say I’ll have plenty to say about the two best players in franchise history.
-I’ll be back next week with a special year-end wrap-up sort of deal. It will include Who Had A Good Season, Who Had A Bad Season, and a prospective roster for next year/possible offseason moves. Anything else anyone would like to see on there?