Update on Canucks prospects on loan, plus the ones that got away
During the early years of Jim Benning's tenure with the Vancouver Canucks, he endured a great deal of scrutiny for the draft picks and prospects that he traded away as he tried to build up a core of 23 to 26-year-olds to fill the void where a nonexistent group of homegrown prospects should have been.
In the end, Benning survived those lean years and now has that core in place. If you expand the window to ages 21-27, you've got Thatcher Demko (24) in net, Quinn Hughes (21) on the back end, and forwards Elias Pettersson (22), Brock Boeser (23), Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette and Zack MacEwen (24), Bo Horvat and Tyler Motte (25) and J.T. Miller (27).
Out of that group of 10, seven were Canucks draft picks — an amazing contrast to the Mike Gillis years. Only Motte and Miller were acquired by trade, and MacEwen was signed as a free agent out of junior.
But remember back to the 2015 trade deadline, when Benning gave up a second-round pick to Calgary that became defenseman Rasmus Andersson, when acquiring Sven Baertschi? Considering the significant role that Baertschi played during the lean years, I'd probably call that a wash?
Or what about World Junior hero Gustav Forsling, the sleeper fifth-rounder that Benning dealt to Chicago in exchange for Adam Clendening about a month before the Baertschi deal? Clendening only ended up playing 17 games for Vancouver, but he was part of the Brandon Sutter deal — which also yielded an asset of still-to-be-determined value in the draft pick that became William Lockwood, now 22 and just getting ready to begin his pro career.
But I digress. My main point here is that Forsling, now 24, does have 122 NHL games under his belt, but spent all of last season in the minors in the defensively deep Carolina Hurricanes organization. A month ago, as an RFA, he signed a new two-way contract with Carolina that pays the league minimum at the NHL level.
I got to thinking about all this when I realized that I hadn't heard much conversation about the first-round pick that Benning traded away for Miller, or the second-round pick that went to the Los Angeles Kings as part of the Tyler Toffoli trade.
As it turns out, both are complicated.
The Lightning ended up packaging the Miller pick, which ended up being No. 20, with former first-rounder Nolan Foote, and sending them to New Jersey at the trade deadline. In exchange, they got Blake Coleman, who was a significant part of their Stanley Cup-winning roster.
With that 20th pick, the Devils selected Russian defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin — which I will now proudly say that I can *almost* spell without double checking. The 18-year-old is one of the kids who has gotten a larger-than-usual opportunity in the KHL this season, and has taken advantage. He has nine points in 30 games so far for Ufa, a club that's in second place in its division and also happens to feature one-time Canucks Markus Granlund and Philip Larsen.
Mukhamadullin should be an interesting player to watch on Russia's World Junior team — assuming everybody gets safely into the bubble in Edmonton and the tournament goes off smoothly.
All-but-forgotten in that Miller deal — the Canucks also gave up a 2019 third-rounder on the day they made the trade. The Lightning used that 71st pick to select Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt. The 19-year-old was Sweden's World Juniors goalie last year and is back for a second season with HV71 of the SHL this year. He's 4-6-0 with a .904 save percentage and 3.03 GAA.
As far as the Toffoli deal goes, Rob Blake ended up packaging that 51st pick with a fourth-rounder and sending them to Detroit in exchange for No. 45.
With 45, the Kings took U.S. NTDP defenseman Brock Faber — yes, another kid named Brock from Minnesota.
With the Canucks' 51st pick, the Red Wings selected a Swedish centre named Theodor Niederbach, who's part of the Frolunda organization.
So Niederbach and Faber are both players to watch out of that deal, in addition to the already-known Tyler Madden. He's still on loan to Eisbaren Berlin of Germany's DEL, which is now targeting a start date of Dec. 17.
Also set to play in Germany this year — Canucks' 2017 sixth-rounder Petrus Palmu. Earlier this week, he was loaned to ERC Ingolstadt. The pint-size prospect had 35 points in 47 games last season in the Finnish league, finishing fifth in team scoring for JyP.
Marc Michaelis will also get game action when the DEL gets going. He showed well at the Deutschland Cup and will be suiting up for Adler Mannheim, which could also feature 2020 third-overall draft pick Tim Stuetzle if the NHL continues to spin its wheels on its return to play.
A handful of other Canucks players are actually getting some game action on loans at the moment.
After also playing well at the Deutschland Cup earlier this month, 19-year-old goaltender Arturs Silovs has moved from HS Riga to HK Mogo, still in the Latvian Hockey League. Since his arrival on Nov. 11, he has played in three games and put up a 2.35 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.
After spending the last two-and-a-bit seasons with the Utica Comets, where his development has seemed pretty steady, 2015 sixth-rounder Lukas Jasek is back in his native Czech Republic this season, on loan to HC Ocelari Trinec.
In 12 games, the 23-year-old winger has nine points, matching the output of his teammate Filip Zadina, the player Detroit selected right before the Canucks took Quinn Hughes in 2018.
Trinec is currently tearing up the Czech league with an 11-0-1 record. They're being led by 34-year-old center Martin Ruzicka, who has 23 points in those 12 games.
Finally, there's 19-year-old Nils Hoglander, on loan to Rogle in the Swedish league. The stocky winger has nine points in 14 games so far this season, good for fifth place on his team. Rogle currently sits third in the SHL standings with a record of 10-2-2, despite having played the fewest games of any team in the league to this point.
Rogle has been dealing with a Covid outbreak. As far as I can tell, their last game was on Nov. 14. Their scheduled Nov. 28 match against Vaxjo has been postponed, along with two other SHL games, while four games are going ahead.
I haven't seen any word on whether or not Hoglander is one of the players who has tested positive.