In an ironic twist, Vancouver Canucks fans have a hockey team in Chicago to cheer for. That team, the Chicago Wolves is in the playoff picture at 24-16-1-4, second in the Midwest Division. The playoffs aren’t assured but it certainly looks like Canuck’s finest pro prospects will get some AHL playoff experience.
Several Canucks players are playing in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings, who are 24-14-2-2.
Stefan Schneider, C, 21
From Vernon, B.C., the 210 pound, 6’5 Schneider (no relation to the Canuck’s goalie) got into the lineup 29 games this season and scored three and added two assists, surpassing the numbers he had last season with the Moose in 47 games. Still only 21, he played some defense last season and continues learning the game. If Schneider doesn’t get his crack at the NHL it won’t be because of a lack of effort.
Jordan Schroeder, C, 21
Not a big player at 5’9 and 180 pounds, Schroeder is potentially a standout in the league if size and toughness are not as big a commodity up front as they’ve been the past two decades or so in the NHL. He has speed and skill but for a second year pro, he hasn’t set the world on fire. After 44 games he has 12 goals and 14 assists, two points shy of his prior season total, but his game lacks consistency.
Billy Sweatt, RW, 23
A second year pro forward, Billy Sweatt has not seen a jump statistically but has had a strong season, as evidenced by a two-game call-up to the Canucks this season, his first two in the NHL (didn’t record a point and was even in the plus- category). Though his stats aren’t eye-popping at 10 goals and 10 assists, four of his goals are game-winners and his play has been highly regarded within the organization.
Anton Rodin, RW, 21
His first year over from Sweden, Rodin, from Stockholm, is adjusting to a new style of play, a new country and new culture. In 28 games with the Chicago Wolves, the 6′, 175 pound winger has four goals, 12 assists and is a minus-four with but 10 penalty minutes. He’s spent some time in the press box but has made strides in his first year of North American hockey.
Mike Duco, RW, 24
Duco came into the season having played but 12 NHL games, all with the only other NHL club he’s played with, the Florida Panthers. He was pointless in the league but that changed on January 10th in Tampa, when he was recalled for three games with the Canucks. He assisted on a Manny Malhotra goal, helping Vancouver to a 5-4 win over the Lightning. He’s back down in Chicago now where he has nine goals and seven assists in 39 games. he also has 41 penalty minutes.
Kevin Connauton, D, 21
In his second season, Connauton keeps showing improvement and an offensive upside that speaks well for his future and the NHL. He gets plenty of power play time with the Wolves, as he did with the Moose, and he has been effective. This season he has 10 goals and 22 points and is one of only two Chicago players to appear in 44 games this season. Connauton was rewarded with his efforts by making the AHL All-Star team.
Sebastian Erixon, D, 21
While on the small side for defenseman at 5’10, Erixon, over from Sweden for his first year playing in North America, has a goal and seven assists in 23 games. Considered a long-term project, he has spent some time this season in the press box.
Adam Polasek, D, 20
A Czech defender taken in the fifth round of the 2010 entry draft, Polasek has played 29 games in his first pro season with the Wolves. Known as physical, puck-moving presence in the QMJHL, he has gone through growing pains in his first season of professional play, managing five points through 29 games.
Yann Sauve, D, 21
Through 42 games Yann Sauve has six points playing a solid, if unspectacular style of game. He does not fight, nor is he known for his shot or puck distribution, he does however possess a strong defensive game, kills penalties, and plays hard. Last season he got his first five games up with the big club but hasn’t got the call in 2011-12.
Chris Tanev, D, 22
Tanev made a bit of a splash in 29 games in the NHL with the Canucks last year during the regular season and five in the playoffs, including playing in the Stanley Cup Final. He’s had four games up with Vancouver this season and 28 in the AHL where he has 12 assists. He remain on the shortlist of defensemen to be called up in case of injury.
Eddie Lack, G, 24
The consensus has it young Eddie Lack is ready for prime-time, or ready to get a taste of prime-time. But unless there’s an injury to one of the main guys, or a trade, the Swedish goalie, who is 10-11-3 in 25 starts, will spend his second year as a pro without a taste of the NHL. His numbers aren’t bad, a .915 save percentage and a 2.64 goals against average with a shutout, but they don’t fully reflect how well he’s played. He has seen a lot of shots, for example, in Charlotte on Dececember 15th, he made 40 saves in a 2-1 Wolves win.
Prab Rai, C, 21
Rai was injured in a car accident last year and missed the entire 2010-11 season and is just now starting this season. The 5’11 native of Surrey, B.C., taken in the fifth round in 2008, was recently sent to the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL where he has an assist through five games. He scored 228 points in his WHL career and will be looking to work his way up the AHL.
Steven Anthony, LW, 20
Having won a Memorial Cup with the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2010-11, Anthony has seven goals and 17 points through 30 games. He was called up to the Wolves in late December but didn’t get into the line-up.
Taylor Ellington, D, 21
A Victoria native, after the Canucks drafted him in the 2nd round in the 2007 draft, he played parts of two seasons with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. He has 20 games in the AHL with the Moose (scored his first pro goal in his first pro game with Manitoba in 2009), but has yet to crack the AHL on a regular basis. This season to date he has five goals and 12 assists in 42 games with the Kalamazoo Wings. Standing at 6′ and 200 pounds, he is a guy who will drop the gloves when his team needs him to step up and defend someone or give them a boost. Versatile, he’s also a go-to guy in shootouts.
Darren Archibald, LW, 21
A big forward, Archibald has split time this season between Chicago, where he’s seen limited ice-time and has a goal in 18 games, and Kalamazoo in the ECHL, where he has managed seven goals and 21 points in 23 games. He had a two goal game against the Toledo Walleye on New Year’s Eve.
Article was written by Marcus Hondro.