Canucks make first cuts while injuries force preseason lineup shuffles
First things first.
Late Monday, the Vancouver Canucks announced their first eight training-camp cuts, bringing their preseason roster down to 51 players.
Nothing earth-shattering, but here's a quick rundown of the players who have been re-assigned:
• Yoshiro Hirano - The 25-year-old right wing joined Abbotsford midway through last season, and put up five goals and 12 points in 30 games with the Baby Canucks. Hirano has good size at 6'0" and 216 pounds, and came up through Japan's hockey system. In May, he won a silver medal with his national team at the IIHF's Division 1B World Championship. Hirano led the tournament in scoring with 10 points in four games, but Japan was shut out 2-0 by Poland in the gold-medal game, missing out on a chance to be promoted to Division 1A.
Hirano was in the Canucks' camp on a professional tryout contract. He'll play in Abbotsford again this season.
• Chad Nychuk - The 21-year-old left-shot defender had a big offensive season with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings last season, putting up 71 points in 64 games. His 21 goals were the most in the league by a defenseman, and he was named to the WHL's East Division second all-star team at season's end.
Listed at 6'1" and 194 pounds, Nychuk was in camp on an amateur tryout contract, and will also be joining Abbotsford.
• Matt Anderson - The 23-year-old left-shot defenseman won a pair of national championships in his four years with the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Undrafted, he turned pro at the end of last season, getting into five games with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays.
Anderson was in camp on a PTO and has now been released. He's expected to rejoin the Stingrays.
• Dylan MacPherson - A big 6'3", 190-pound right-shot defenseman, MacPherson is a 24-year-old who served as captain of the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers last season. An Alberta native, he played his junior hockey in Medicine Hat and has suited up for a handful of AHL games.
He was also in camp on a PTO, and has now been released.
• Cole Shepard - In camp on an amateur tryout contract, Shepard was born in Toronto but has come up through local youth hockey channels — playing at the North Shore Winter Club and in Delta before joining the Penticton Vees and, eventually, the Vancouver Giants. Now 20, Shepard will play left wing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes this season.
Shepard played 6:55 in Vancouver's 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary at Rogers Arena last Sunday.
• Connor Lockhart - A sixth-round pick in 2021, Lockhart was drafted with the pick the Canucks acquired when they dealt Jordie Benn to Winnipeg at the 2021 trade deadline. A diminutive centre, he had 23 goals and 48 points in 64 games with the OHL's Erie Otters last season. Now 19, Lockhart will be skating with the Peterborough Petes this year.
• Ty Young - Vancouver's fifth-round pick in 2022, goaltender Ty Young has also been returned to his junior club, the Prince George Cougars. The 18-year-old is considered to be raw, but Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark sees potential.
At Young Stars, Young told the media that Clark told him he has raw talent. "Not the best mechanical yet, and he just wants to work on that."
This is the same kind of projection that Clark had when the Canucks drafted Arturs Silovs three years ago — and that seems to be working out well so far. Playing junior in the WHL this year, Young should get lots of attention from Vancouver's goaltending department over the course of the season.
• Kirill Kudryavtsev - An 18-year-old left-shot defenseman, Kudryavtsev is a native of Yaroslavl, Russia, who played his first North American season with the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL last season. Drafted by the Canucks in the seventh round last June, he looked steady for such a young prospect at Young Stars.
He'll be back in the Soo this season, for another year of development.
Major junior seasons are already underway, so the junior prospects will be re-joining their clubs on the fly.
Abbotsford will be opening its training camp in a week's time. It's set to run from Oct. 5-8 at Port Coquitlam Community Centre. Weekday sessions will go at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and camp will wrap up with a scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Like its parent club, Abbotsford will open its regular season away from home. A four-game road trip kicks off against the Ontario Reign on Oct. 14, then stops in Bakersfield before a pair of games against Seattle's new farm team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Abbotsford's home schedule begins on the weekend of Oct. 28, with back-to-back games against the San Diego Gulls.
Now, back to the big club.
On top of Brock Boeser's hand surgery, the Canucks confirmed after practice on Tuesday that Ilya Mikheyev is now listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Tyler Myers also missed Tuesday's practice because he was sick — but not with Covid, Bruce Boudreau was quick to clarify. And Travis Dermott left practice after taking a hard hit and "feeling woozy."
Not to be too cynical, but I can't feel terribly surprised that Vancouver's run of good health has ended quickly. And the lineup shuffling delivers opportunities to players like Nils Hoglander who are a bit further down the depth chart. Curtis Lazar also appears to be getting an early bump.
On Tuesday, the two practice groups were essentially split into the NHL and non-NHL squads — much like we've seen Travis Green do in the past. Here's how the lines rolled out at UBC.
Practice is scheduled for UBC again on Wednesday: 11 a.m. for the main group and 12:30 p.m. for the second group.
Next game action comes Thursday against a Seattle Kraken team that's showing some signs of life in the early going.
The Kraken are perfect through two games of preseason play so far, with matching 3-0 wins over Edmonton on Monday and Calgary on Tuesday at Climate Pledge Arena.
Yes — the road teams brought young, unproven rosters. But the Flames' lineup didn't look much different from what the Canucks saw on Sunday. Seattle's kids are contributing: Matty Beniers scored a slick sharp-angle goal against Edmonton on Monday and Shane Wright had three shots on goal in 13:33 of ice time on Tuesday.
Not sure we'll get to see either of them in Vancouver, but the Kraken's goaltending has been airtight so far with Martin Jones, Joey Daccord, Philipp Grubauer and Magnus Hellberg stopping every puck that came their way in half-a-game of action apiece.
Don't forget, Thursday's game is an early start, at 6:30 p.m. PT on Sportsnet Pacific and Sportsnet One.