The Vancouver Canucks were back in action in Penticton on Sunday afternoon. In their second game of the Young Stars Classic, the Canucks’ prospects faced the Winnipeg Jets’ prospects, as each team’s players looked to prove themselves to management.
Some prospects at the tournament are trying to build up steam before heading into their NHL training camp to earn a job in the NHL. Others are just looking to make a good impression on their AHL coach heading into the season. Still others are aiming to earn a contract, as they came to camp unsigned and undrafted and are trying to earn a spot in a team’s system.
Let’s take a look at who stood out in Sunday’s game with this edition of the Young Stars 3 Stars, as well as some additional observations.
Third Star: Marc Gatcomb
Marc Gatcomb is a big, strong forward who is already signed with the Abbotsford Canucks on an AHL deal, but does not have an NHL deal. That means Vancouver will have some time this season to observe Gatcomb and assess whether he has what it takes to play in the NHL.
A two-goal game against the Jets is a pretty good start to his efforts to earn that contract.
Gatcomb opened the scoring midway through the first period off a lost faceoff by Carson Focht.
Cole Shepard put a little pressure down low on the defenceman, causing him to just ring the puck around the boards, where Jett Woo was able to keep it in the zone and throw it on net. Gatcomb got open, went to the net, and deftly deflected the puck between Oksari Salminen’s pads.
Gatcomb got his second goal of the game on the power play, taking advantage of a great forecheck by Linus Karlsson to create a turnover. Gatcomb was Johnny-on-the-spot, nabbing the loose puck and tucking it between Salminen’s legs with the wraparound.
While Gatcomb may not have been a standout player in the rest of the game, he also wasn’t a detriment in any way. He played on the third line with Focht and Shepard and they played a yeoman’s game — getting in on the forecheck, finishing hits, and keeping the puck to the outside defensively. Gatcomb also had a bit of time on the penalty kill as well.
At the very least, Gatcomb showed that he knows where to go on the ice — the front of the net. For a player with a bit of size and decent finish, that can take you a long way.
Second Star: Ty Young
The Canucks’ youngest player at Young Stars is literally named Ty Young. The goaltender got the start against the Jets after backing up Arturs Silovs on Friday and had an excellent game.
Young made 28 saves on 29 shots and was particularly strong on the penalty kill, where he tracked the puck effectively and battled through traffic. The Canucks gave the Jets’ six power plays, including a 5-on-3 in the third period and even though the lone Jets goal came on the power play, Young still made some excellent stops.
The one goal that got past him was partly bad luck. A shot hit the post behind him, then hit Young in the back of the leg. Young closed up his legs and got his glove behind his skates, thinking he had the puck covered, but it had slipped out and was tucked in by Tyler Boland.
Young was great apart from that goal and bailed out the skaters ahead of him a couple of times.
For instance, I didn’t love Kannok Leipert’s choice to chase across the ice on this play, leaving his defence partner, Chad Nychuk, defending alone in transition. Nychuk didn’t play it well either, leading to Tyrel Bauer getting in alone with Evan Konyen chasing. Fortunately, Young was able to come up with a big save.
On another power play chance for the Jets, Young made a superb recovery after overplaying the initial pass through the slot. When the pass was disrupted and the puck came to Tyler Boland, Young managed to throw his body back across the net to make the save.
Ty Young just turned 18 a week ago and is heading into his first full season in the WHL. There’s a lot of potential there.
First Star: Danila Klimovich
It was a banner game for Danila Klimovich, who did a little bit of everything for the Canucks.
We’ve heard a lot about Klimovich’s shot, but what has stood out the most at Young Stars is his passing. He’s a superb passer, capable of threading a puck through traffic onto a teammate’s tape, as he demonstrated with a fantastic pass to Tristen Nielsen for a backdoor tap-in.
That’s such a good pass that it needs another angle.
Klimovich’s passing was noticeable all game, including on the breakout, where he made zone exits look easy with his short passes off the wall to a teammate in stride. There are a lot of players where they need to shoot the puck more — Klimovich is a rare player who should probably shoot the puck a little bit less and look to make that extra pass.
Klimovich quickly followed up that excellent assist with a greasy goal, going to the net to clean up a Nielsen rebound. Chase Wouters set up Nielsen in the high slot and his one-timer was too hot to handle for Salminen. Klimovich provided the putback jam, which was greatly appreciated by at least one young fan in Penticton.
Beyond the goal and the assist, Klimovich showed the effort away from the puck that they’ve been looking for from him. He was tough and physical in battles and strong on the forecheck, repeatedly coming up with pucks down low. Most importantly, he put in the effort defensively, including on the backcheck multiple times.
Klimovich might never be a great two-way player, but he can’t be a liability if he wants to make the NHL in the future. If he can keep putting in that effort defensively, it’s a great sign for his development.
- It was another two-point night for Tristen Nielsen, who has been one of the Canucks’ best players in Penticton. If he can keep this type of performance up in Abbotsford, he could quickly earn himself an NHL contract.
- This was a better game for Jett Woo after he was shaky against the Flames on Friday. He showed some good mobility and puck protection in his own end to escape forecheckers, a willingness to jump up in the rush, and he picked up an assist on the opening goal by being quick to the opposite point off a lost faceoff and getting the puck towards the net.
- I’m really liking Kirill Kudryavtsev. The Canucks’ seventh-round pick from this year has been subtly fantastic in both games of the tournament so far. It’s all about the simple, clean plays that keep the puck in the Canucks’ zone for as little time as possible.
- Linus Karlsson had a very strong game, including his great forechecking pressure on Gatcomb’s second goal. He made some excellent passes, including a between-the-legs beauty to Cole Shepard that created one of the Canucks’ best scoring chances of the game.
- Karlsson’s linemates, Arshdeep Bains and Nils Åman were also quite good in this one. Bains didn’t find the scoresheet but kept up his strong two-way play, while Åman was strong in the faceoff circle and was credited with a secondary assist on Gatcomb’s power play goal.