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Breaking down the Vancouver Canucks’ Young Stars roster

The Canucks will face the Flames on Friday at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
Danila Klimovich will be one of the Vancouver Canucks' star attractions at the 2022 Young Stars Classic in Penticton.

The Vancouver Canucks are playing games this weekend.

Well, a facsimile of the Canucks, at least. 

The 2022 Young Stars Classic runs from Friday to Monday, with the Canucks’ prospects playing three games against prospects for the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets. While fans can make the trip to Penticton to see the games in person, the Canucks will also be streaming the games on their website and social media channels.

On Tuesday, the Canucks unveiled their 26-man roster for the tournament, featuring some of their top prospects and a healthy helping of undrafted and unsigned invitees. 

Their first-round draft pick from 2022, Jonathan Lekkerimäki, is not among them. Lekkerimäki is back in Sweden with Djurgårdens IF, preparing for the HockeyAllsvenskan season. Their preseason has already begun and is, in fact, almost over. 

Here is the Canucks’ Young Stars roster with ages, positions, and the team they played with the most last season. An asterisk indicates an unsigned/undrafted invitee who is not in the Canucks’ system, which includes a few players signed to AHL contracts with the Abbotsford Canucks.

Forwards (15)

  • Nils Åman - 22 - Centre - Leksands IF, SHL
  • Arshdeep Bains - 21 - Left Wing - Red Deer Rebels, WHL
  • Carson Focht - 22 - Centre - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Marc Gatcomb* - 23 - Right Wing - University of Connecticut, NCAA
  • Justin Gill* - 19 - Centre - Sherbrooke Phoenic, QMJHL
  • Linus Karlsson - 22 - Centre/Right Wing - Skellefteå AIK, SHL
  • Danila Klimovich - 19 - Centre/Left Wing - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Evan Konyen* - 18 - Right Wing - Sudbury Wolves, OHL 
  • Connor Lockhart - 19 - Centre - Erie Otters, OHL
  • Max Namestnikov* - 18 - Centre - Sarnia Sting, OHL
  • Tristen Nielsen* - 22 - Centre - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Simon Pinard* - 21 - Left Wing - Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL
  • Michael Regush* - 24 - Centre - Miami University (Ohio), NCAA
  • Cole Shepard* - 20 - Left Wing - Vancouver Giants, WHL
  • Chase Wouters* - 22 - Centre/Left Wing - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL

Defence (8)

  • Matt Anderson* - 23 - Left Defence - University of Minnesota-Duluth, NCAA
  • Alex Kannok Leipert* - 22 - Right Defence - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Kirill Kudryavtsev - 18 - Left Defence - Soo Greyhounds, OHL
  • Dylan MacPherson* - 24 - Right Defence - Wheeling Nailers, ECHL
  • Chad Nychuk* - 21 - Left Defence - Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL
  • Quinn Schmiemann* - 21 - Left Defence - Kamloops Blazers, WHL
  • Jackson van de Leest* - 21 - Left Defence - Red Deer Rebels, WHL
  • Jett Woo - 22 - Right Defence - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL

Goaltenders (3)

  • Brett Brochu* - 20 - Goaltender - London Knights, OHL
  • Arturs Silovs - 21 - Goaltender - Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Ty Young - 18 - Goaltender - Prince George Cougars, WHL

Of the 26 players on the roster, just 10 are prospects in the Canucks’ system. The rest are invitees, though six of those invitees are signed to AHL contracts with Abbotsford: Marc Gatcomb, Tristen Nielsen, Chase Wouters, Alex Kannok Leipert, Chad Nychuk, and Quinn Schmiemann.

Canucks prospects to watch

The most exciting Canucks prospect among the forwards is Danila Klimovich, who played with Abbotsford last season as an 18-year-old rookie and was the youngest player in the AHL. It was a tough year at times for the big Belarusian and he found himself scratched for the AHL playoffs, but he still has a ton of skill and power in his game.

The trick for Klimovich will be maturing as a player, not letting his fiery disposition get the better of him, and learning how to find the time and space in the professional game to use his shot. The Young Stars tournament will be the first chance to see how his game has developed since last season.

Nils Åman, Arshdeep Bains, and Linus Karlsson will also be ones to watch as they play their first games in a Canucks jersey. 

Åman and Karlsson both played in Sweden last season and will need to adapt to the smaller ice surface. Bains was the WHL’s leading scorer and needs to prove that he can either continue to score at the next level or adapt his game to provide value away from the puck.

On defence, keep an eye out for Kirill Kudravtsev, picked in the seventh round by the Canucks in the most recent draft. He missed the Canucks’ prospect development camp, so this will be the first chance to watch him play since he was drafted and he’s a talented puck-mover from the back-end.

The only other Canucks prospect on defence is Jett Woo, who struggled last season and wound up playing at forward in the second half. This is an important season for Woo to prove that he’s still a quality NHL prospect and it starts in Penticton.

The Canucks have two goaltenders from their system at the tournament — Arturs Silovs and Ty Young. It feels like Silovs has been in the system for much longer than he actually has. He’s still only 21 and is looking to take the reins in Abbotsford as the starting goaltender after bouncing between the AHL and ECHL last season.

Young is, appropriately, the youngest player on the Canucks’ roster. The Canucks selected him in the fifth round in the 2022 draft and he has the size and raw talent that goaltending coach Ian Clark values most in a prospect. 

Canucks invitees to watch

Several of the invitees were already at the Canucks’ prospect development camp in July. Marc Gatcomb, Max Namestnikov, Nielsen, and Wouters were profiled among the invitee forwards and Kannok Leipert, Nychuk, Schmiemann, Jackson van de Leest and Brett Brochu were profiled among the invitee defencemen and goaltenders. Look for profiles of the remaining invitees sometime this week.

Among the forward invitees, the two youngest players are the most intriguing. Both Namestnikov and Evan Konyen went undrafted and could potentially be signed to entry-level contracts and added to the Canucks’ system. 

Konyen put up 50 points in 66 games last season with the Sudbury Wolves and is an exceptional puckhandler. He’ll be looking to prove himself worthy of a contract in Penticton. 

On defence, Chad Nychuk and Quinn Schmiemann are definitely the most intriguing invitees, with both putting points in their final years in the WHL. Both have already signed AHL deals with Abbotsford, so the Canucks will have plenty of time to evaluate them to see if they have NHL potential.