The Summer Showcase eventually turned into a showcase showdown between Adam Gaudette and Elias Pettersson, with no Drew Carey in sight. The two traded goals and had a couple run-ins around the net. The two centres were clearly the best players for their respective teams, but there was overall a higher skill level than we've seen at some previous Canucks development camps.
Here are the three players that stood out the most to me, along with some honourable mentions.
Third Star: Aaron Irving
Maybe I’m biased because I have a soft spot for invitees, but I’m giving the nod to Team White defenceman Aaron Irving for the third star. The 21-year-old, who is looking for his first pro contract after finishing his WHL career, played a sound defensive game, but earned some extra attention with two points.
Irving threw some solid checks and battled well in front of the net, tying up sticks and preventing chances. He also displayed a good first pass. He did lose the puck a couple times in the defensive zone, but both times it was to a hard-forechecking Adam Gaudette, so I have some forgiveness for him there.
Late in the first period, Irving drew a hooking penalty from Jonah Gadjovich, which earned him a penalty shot in the scrimmage format. He gave Team White a 2-0 lead with a hard snapshot that snuck between the blocker and pad of Francis Marotte.
Then, early in the second period when it was 4-on-4, Irving smartly jumped up in the rush with Elias Pettersson, took Petterson’s drop pass, and slid a nicely-weighted return feed under Michael Carcone’s stick. Pettersson took it and made his patented deke to the forehand for a pretty goal.
“I’m playing for my hockey life right now,” said Irving post-game. “It shows that I can play one step higher. Getting two points is a nice cherry on top.”
Second Star: Elias Pettersson
Everyone who came out to the game wanted to see what Elias Pettersson could do and they were not disappointed. He dazzled the fans with his slick hands, scoring two gorgeous goals during the game, then scoring one of the prettiest goals in the shootout.
Pettersson did get knocked down a lot, which might raise concerns about his size again, but he always popped back up and, more often than not, the puck ended up right back on his stick. He came out of a surprising number of battles in control of the puck, and deftly knocked down a couple passes in the neutral zone to create turnovers.
At one point at 4-on-4 in the second period, Pettersson, Jonathan Dahlen, Olli Juolevi, and Jalen Chatfield set up shop in the offensive zone. Team Blue just couldn’t break their cycle, until finally Pettersson got knocked to the ice by a hard check. He immediately got back up and on the next rush scored his first goal, assisted by Irving.
His second goal was even prettier, as he took advantage of the extra space at 3-on-3 in the third period by dangling around Matthew Kellenberger, before patiently waiting for Marotte to go down and roofing the puck.
His shootout goal featured the same move he used on his first goal, a move that he used frequently while playing in Sweden.
When I asked him if he was worried that goaltenders might figure that move out, he laughed.
“Yeah, actually,” he said. “That’s why I took so long to do the shootout. I was thinking, ‘What should I do? Does he know that I always do that?’ But I tried my usual move and it worked out.”
First Star: Adam Gaudette
You don’t expect to see a good 200-foot game during a prospect camp scrimmage, but Adam Gaudette delivered. He was easily the best player on Team Blue and, in my opinion, the best player on either team.
You could tell he was having a blast, as he kept things fun and loose, chirping NCAA rival Brock Boeser all game. But he also picked off passes, won puck battles, and was constantly in the right place at the right time in the defensive zone. He was notable even before he scored his two goals.
His battles with Pettersson were particularly noticeable, winning a couple key puck battles. During one shift, Pettersson was stickhandling behind the net, looking for passing lanes. Gaudette gave him nothing to work with, then manhandled him to the ice.
“I want to show everyone I can play at the same pace he can,” Gaudette said after the game, and it’s clear that Gaudette played and thought the game at a quicker pace than most of the other prospects on the ice.
To cap it off, he scored two goals in the third period once play opened up 3-on-3. His first showcased his wrist shot, as he rifled the puck short side on Beck Warm.
Then he demonstrated his passing, hitting Griffen Molino with a perfect pass in stride, then going hard to the net to take the return feed for the finish.
- Jalen Chatfield opened the scoring: after beating Matthew Kellenberger out wide, he attempted to centre the puck to Pettersson only to have it deflect in off Kristoffer Gunnarsson. Chatfield looked good partnering with Juolevi, with his true highlight being an effortless looking defensive play to take away a breakaway by Carcone, neatly knocking the puck off his stick with a deft stick-check.
- After the early goal against, Michael DiPietro settled in and made some solid saves the rest of the way. He robbed Dahlen on a great chance set up by Pettersson in the second period.
- Invitee goaltender Francis Marotte may have had the save of the game, kicking aside a Brock Boeser chance at the side of the goal off a rebound.
- Zach MacEwen had some good rushes with the puck and scored a beauty, going bardown in the third period off a pass from Boeser.
- Olli Juolevi was noticeably a step above the other defencemen on the ice and he showed off his hands in the shootout, opening up the five-hole with a strong move to the backhand, then neatly tucking it in.
- Jonathan Dahlen may have been overshadowed by Pettersson in regulation, but he got a rise out of the crowd in the shootout, blasting a slap shot past a surprised Michael DiPietro. Yeah, he took a slap shot in a prospect showcase. He doesn’t give a damn.
- Adam Brubacher had the best, or at least wackiest, goal of the shootout. After Dahlen’s slap shot, he came in and faked one of his own, “whiffing” on the shot before kicking the puck up to his stick, deking past a sprawled Marotte, and tucking it into the open net. No gif of the goal, but if you go to the full Facebook Live video of the event and go to -6:41, you can see it.