Every month throughout the NHL season we’ll be updating you on the development of key Vancouver Canucks prospects with up-to-date stats, videos, analysis and scouting reports.
Brendan Gaunce: F, Utica Comets (AHL)
Drafted: first round, 26th overall, 2012
Season to date: 43 GP | 15G | 18A | 33P | +8
Brendan Gaunce was recalled from the Utica Comets this week following the trade deadline and is likely to get an extended look at the NHL level before he returns to the American League for the post-season.
“All the details in his game are there,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said of Gaunce in February. “So when we call him up, he can adjust to the pro game and help our team win.”
Whether Gaunce will play at centre or on the wing in Vancouver remains to be seen. The organization appeared to settle on Gaunce as a left winger once he turned pro, but he’s done exceptionally well playing the middle forward spot for the Comets over the past two months.
With the Canucks losing Adam Cracknell on waivers this week, it seems likely that Gaunce will get an opportunity to prove his mettle and versatility as an NHL centreman in the weeks ahead.
Andrey Pedan: D, Utica Comets (AHL)
Drafted: third round, 63rd overall, 2011
Season to date: 36 GP | 5G | 11A | 16P | +15
Andrey Pedan has been a crucial contributor on a Comets team that has dealt with a variety of significant injuries.
Playing often in a top-pair matchup role for Utica, Pedan leads the entire club in plus/minus –- a statistic that can be deceptive, but likely isn’t in Pedan’s case considering the convincing way that the Comets have managed to control the shot clock all season long.
The six-foot-three defenceman is known for his hard shot and ability to play a sturdy physical game. He’s also a willing fighter, and is second among all Utica players in penalty minutes.
What stands out when you watch him play at the AHL level, though, is his puck skills and speed. Pedan can get the puck up ice and is able to walk defenceman and make plays with the puck in traffic.
Pedan may not have the space and time to dangle forechecking forwards at the NHL level, but his deceptively high-skill level is a good sign for his ability to make the transition to the NHL game. And that opportunity might come sooner than later.
“When we bring guys up we want to give them a look and give them some games,” Canucks head coach Wilile Desjardins said this week.
“It’s harder if you’re coming up one game and you know if you make a mistake you’re not going to play and we want to give them a legitimate chance to show what they can do. So we’ll be bringing different guys up.”
Jordan Subban: D, Utica Comets (AHL)
Drafted: fourth round, 115th overall, 2014
Season to date: 46 GP | 9G | 20A | 29P | +1
While Pedan is getting most of the attention as a potential call up for the Canucks down the stretch, it’s become impossible to ignore what Jordan Subban has accomplished in his rookie season.
The 20-year-old offensive defenceman has managed to bring his dynamic skillset to the professional level and the transition — at least offensively –- has been seamless.
In addition to being third among all Comets players in scoring this year, Subban ranks fourth in point production and second in goals scored among all AHL rookie defenseman. He’s also sporting the highest goal-scoring rate of all rookie defenceman in the AHL.
Subban still has some work to do on the other side of the puck if he’s going to earn a look at the NHL level, but it’s become abundantly clear that he’s a rare talent.
Brock Boeser: RW, University of North Dakota (NCAA)
Drafted: first round, 23rd overall, 2015
Season to date: 31 GP | 22G | 15A | 37P | +26
Brock Boeser had another excellent month in February, scoring four goals and six points in six games for North Dakota.
Boeser’s 22 goals as a freshman are enormously impressive and rank fourth among all players in the NCAA. Only Winnipeg Jets super-prospect Kyle Conner has scored more goals among freshmen players.
“We believe we picked a good player last year in the first round that’s going to be a contributor,” Canucks president Trevor Linden told Sportsnet of Boeser in February. “He’s having a tremendous season in North Dakota.”
Anton Rodin: RW, Brynas (SHL)
Drafted: second round, 53rd overall, 2009
Season to date: 33 GP | 16 G | 21 A | 37 Pts | +7
Anton Rodin, 25, is still recovering from a knee ligament injury sustained during practice and didn’t play in February. Despite not playing a game in the SHL in six weeks, he’s still in the top-15 in league scoring thanks to an excellent start to the season.
It’s his play earlier in the year that has him on the Canucks’ radar, and general manager Jim Benning confirmed this month that the plan is for Rodin to come over to North America next season.
“We got Anton Rodin in the Swedish Elite League and he’s played well the last couple of years and we’d like to bring him over next year,” Benning said during a conference call in which he addressed the trade of Hunter Shinkaruk to Calgary for Markus Granlund.
It’s expected that Rodin will be offered a one year, one-way contract this summer.
Thatcher Demko: G, Boston College (NCAA)
Drafted: second-round, 36th overall, 2014
Season to date: 32 GP | 23W | 4L | 1.77 GAA | .937 SV% | 9 SO
In nine February starts, Thatcher Demko won seven games, tied another and lost only once. He also broke Boston College’s single season shutout record previously held by former Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.
Demko’s save percentage for the season currently sits at .937, which is the third best save rate in the country.
Boston College’s regular season will end later this month and the NCAA’s Frozen Four playoff is only five weeks away. Whenever Demko’s season ends, expect the Canucks to push hard to get the sophomore goalie under contract.
Nikita Tryamkin: D, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (KHL)
Drafted: third round, 66th overall, 2014
Season to date: 53 GP | 4G | 7A | 11P | -3
Nikita Tryamkin’s Avtomobolist Yekaterinburg are currently trailing 3-2 as the lower seed in a first round Gagarin Cup playoff series against the heavily favoured Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Tryamkin, whose role expanded throughout the season, is leading all Yekaterinburg defenceman in ice-time per game in the postseason — a testament to how far he’s come over the course of the season.
If the 6-foot-7 defender can help a relative minnow hang with a historic KHL side in the playoffs, that will speak to why the Canucks would be eager to bring him over to North America.