On April 19, Peter Harling of My NHL Trade Rumors did a nice piece on the top Canucks prospects in the organization. He argued that, given general manager Jim Benning’s work in the NHL Entry Draft over the past seasons, the organization has a number of great young prospects who soon might move to the team.
His top five forward prospects include:
Forward Prospect #1: Vasili Podkolzin, Right-Winger, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Vasili Podkolzin is an 18-year-old, 6-foot-1, 196-pound right-winger who was drafted in the first round (10th overall) of the 2019 draft by the Canucks. Interestingly, some Canucks fans were disappointed on draft day when the Canucks picked Podkolzin, knowing he had a two-year contract to play in the KHL. However, because it would have been at least two years before he’d be ready to at least try out for a roster spot on the Canucks, what matter where he spent those seasons?
In fact, in some ways, it was a savings to the team to have him under contract in Europe. However, because he’s only an 18-year-old playing in a men’s league (the KHL is one of the best leagues in the world), Podkolzin probably didn’t see as many minutes as he might have in North America with one of the Canucks’ affiliates. So, it wasn’t perfect.
Still, because the young Russian was able to showcase his skill in the 2020 World Junior Championships by helping Russia earn a Silver Medal (he scored five points in seven games), there’s no question he remains the talented prospect the Canucks drafted.
Harling notes that he’s the Canucks number one forward prospect because he demonstrates not only a great skillset but also grit and determination. He finishes his review of Podkolzin by saying that the rest of the NHL teams’ fans are simply going to hate him.
Related: Vancouver Canucks Sign Trick-Shot Artist Nils Hoglander for Three Years
Forward Prospect #2: Nils Hoglander, Left-Winger – Rogle (SHL)
Nils Hoglander is a 19-year-old, 5-foot-9, 185-pound left-winger who was drafted in the second round (40th overall) of the 2019 draft by the Canucks. Hoglander is best known for his highlight-reel goals. Hoglander won the Swedish Hockey League’s (SHL) Goal of Year award for the second season in a row this past season. It was a “lacrosse-style” goal and was one of his nine goals and 16 points in 41 games this season with Rogle BK.
Hoglander has skill, speed, and above all magic hands. He just signed an entry-level contract with the Canucks at the end of April; however, he has a clause in that contract that if he doesn’t make the big club he can return to Sweden. Of all people, his future teammate Elias Pettersson is a huge Hoglander fan.
Hoglander might need a little more time to work on his consistency, but given the salary-cap squeeze, the Canucks are working under there’s a good chance that he’ll make the roster next season. He also looks as if he has a strong chance of becoming one of the core players for the Canucks in the future.
Forward Prospect #3: Kole Lind, Right-Winger – Utica Comets (AHL)
Kole Lind is a 21-year-old, 6-foot-1, 186-pound right-winger who was drafted in the second round (33th overall) of the 2017 draft by the Canucks. Lind’s a bit older than the average prospect because, frankly, his rookie season with Utica was simply underwhelming – he only scored of 17 points.
However, during his second season, he adjusted. His off-season dedication paid off and his point total moved up 27 points to 44 points for the season and he proved himself to be the impact player the team had drafted for. He’ll likely have another chance with Utica next season to increase his development even further. He might not make NHL jump in 2020-21, but if he keeps improving he’ll be on the Canucks roster soon enough.
Forward Prospect #4: Marc Michaelis, Left-Winger/Center – Minnesota State University (NCAA)
Marc Michaelis is a 24-year-old, 5-foot-11, 187-pound forward (he plays both left-wing and center) who was signed as a free agent in 2020. Although Michaelis has been in North America playing hockey since 2014, he’s from Germany. When the Canucks beat the bushes for free agents, they signed a strong one in Michaelis.
Michaelis had finished four seasons at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Between Minnesota and representing Germany internationally (he played in two World Championships and the World Juniors), he’s gained plenty of experience. He might need a season in Utica to both develop and transition, but he looks as if he has a chance to make the roster in the 2021-22 season. He follows in the footsteps of Adam Gaudette, who had a breakout season this year with the Canucks after four seasons in collegiate hockey.
Forward Prospect #5: Zack MacEwan, Right-Winger, Utica Comets (AHL)
Zack MacEwan is a 23-year-old, 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-winger who was signed by the Canucks as a free agent in 2017. It’s likely that Canucks fans know MacEwan because he played 17 games with the big team last season with five goals and an assist for six points. He’s tough and showed well in his time with the team. For some reason, he’s a fan favorite and I’m certain lots of Vancouver fans are rooting for him to stick with the big club.
The big winger spent two seasons at Utica working on his development, and if he’s not there already he’s certainly on the brink of becoming a full-time NHL bottom-six player. He’s played both in Utica and Vancouver; and, although at first, he was more times than not a healthy scratch he started to earn more ice time as the season went on.
He might never be a top-six forward, but he’s a nice blend of size, strength, skill, and drive that most teams want in their bottom-six forwards. He’s fun to watch and can chip in the odd goal now and then.
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