The Vancouver Canucks’ plan to get younger without going into a total rebuild is in full effect. Gone are veteran wingers Chris Higgins and Brandon Prust, waived and assigned to the farm in Utica. Taking up the extra minutes are youngsters such as Sven Baertschi and recently acquired Emerson Etem. Add in Bo Horvat, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen and the Canucks have a very respectable group of forwards aged 23 or younger. With up and comers such as Brendan Gaunce and Brock Boeser knocking at the door, the Canucks seem to have most of the answers to their future needs developing in-house.
Several Vancouver Canucks prospects have made their professional hockey debuts this season with the AHL’s Utica Comets and the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. The Comets came into the 2015-16 season with high expectations after competing for the Calder Cup in 2014-15. Several major personnel changes were made in the offseason however and it could be difficult for Utica to replicate the success they had a season ago. Here is a look at the personnel the Canucks have deployed in Utica and Kalamazoo this season and an assessment of how each player is doing so far in the 2015-16 season.
Drafting and developing have not been strong suits for the Vancouver Canucks over the last few years. With Jim Benning and Trevor Linden in charge there seems to be efforts being made to rectify years of poor drafting and developing of their own players, though certain moves have not come without controversy.
The season ended suddenly and surprisingly for the Canucks at the hands of the Calgary Flames, a team that was not expected to do much of anything this season but whose undervalued prospect depth has quickly proven to be on track and capable. The Canucks on the other hand now find themselves in a transitional phase, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin showing signs of slowing down, but with a strong group of players coming up to bolster an experienced NHL core. The good news is that the bulk of the prospect pool enjoyed post-season runs during the 2014-15 season, with deep playoff runs in the AHL and OHL playoffs for some notable names.