The Vancouver Canucks have been stingy with the cuts during training camp and preseason. On Sunday, just 10 days away from the start of the regular season, the Canucks made their second round of cuts, which included only one player actually in the Canucks' system.
That means the Canucks have a lot more cuts to make in the coming week and a half. For now, let's look at the latest cut, which includes one prospect, Carson Focht, and two invitees, Alex Kannok Leipert and Quinn Schmiemann.
As is typically the case with the earliest cuts, these ones aren't too hard to explain. The Canucks have yet to cut any players that had even the remotest shot of cracking their opening night lineup.
Focht has a lot to prove
Carson Focht was an unexpected pick for the Canucks in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He was already 19 years old and in his second year of draft eligibility and few expected him to be picked by anyone. He hadn't cracked a point-per-game in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen, which isn't typically a recipe for a 19-year-old to get drafted.
The Canucks liked Focht's motor and two-way game, however, and suspected there was some untapped skill that could give him a chance at an NHL future and that's what late-round picks are for — taking a chance.
It was also a little unexpected when the Canucks signed Focht to an entry-level contract in 2021. Focht scored a few more goals in his post-draft year but still only had 56 points in 61 games — not really a progression from when he was drafted. For Focht, it was all about his two-way potential and the Canucks' lack of depth at centre.
Focht is now in the third year of that contract and has a lot to prove after struggling to even stay in the Abbotsford Canucks' lineup last season. He started the season strong, with opportunities on both sides of special teams, but he was a frequent healthy scratch late in the season and even spent three games in the ECHL, where he had no points.
Focht finished the season with just 10 points in 41 games. If he wants to make the NHL, this season could be his last chance to show that he has what it takes to get there.
Kannok Leipert and Schmiemann join Abbotsford D
The two other cuts on Sunday both have Canucks contracts, but they're AHL contracts with the Abbotsford Canucks.
Alex Kannok Leipert played 41 games with Abbotsford last season after a strong career with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, where he served as captain. Kannok Leipert showed some versatility last season, playing a little bit of forward when necessary, and played well on the penalty kill. He'll be looking to work his way up the lineup after largely playing on the third pairing last season.
Quinn Schmiemann is new to Abbotsford this season, signing an AHL contract with the Canucks after finishing ninth among WHL defencemen with 54 points in 58 games.
Schmiemann had a strong showing at the Young Stars Classic and seems like the invitee defenceman most likely to earn an NHL contract in the future. First, he'll have to make an impression in Abbotsford.