Just in case he wasn’t aware already, Canucks 27-year-old winger Dakota Joshua was put on full alert: It’s a full-on competition for jobs and yours is in danger.
“Dakota, he’s gotta pick it up,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet stated Tuesday. “Quite frankly, I’m not going to get into some of the factors, but he has to … he’s gotta try to win a job. The job’s not there, there’s guys breathing down, that want jobs, and whether it’s a message or not, there’s a lot of other factors I’m not going to get into, but yeah, he’s gotta pick it up.”
Meanwhile, Tocchet remains a big fan of feisty 29-year-old winger Phil Di Giuseppe, and he’s also thinking he may have found a 4th-line combination he really likes.
That would be recently acquired veteran center Teddy Blueger between converted center Nils Aman and Jack Studnicka. He liked their chemistry and he liked their work on the walls.
“That’s a huge line for us if that line can develop,” Tocchet said. “There’s a ways to go, but if that line can develop, it’s just a lot easier for me to have that kind of line.”
The coach is particularly impressed with the progress made by Aman, the 23-year-old lefty forward who was a Canucks 6th-round NHL Draft pick in 2020 out of the Leksands program in Sweden.
“I think he was in our top-3 best shape guys in camp, he came in bigger, he’s been skating hard, he deserves the opportunity to be in that situation,” Tocchet urged. “We’re still two weeks away, but I’m a big fan of him and we’ll have him and Teddy, if he can play the wing, it’s a hybrid, both can kind of switch at different times. And I think “Studs”, Studnicka, deserved to practice with that group today. They looked fast out there and they can check. It’s a good line.”
For the moment, Tocchet envisions Di Giuseppe with top-6 forward possibilities, all because of his forecheck ability and his chemistry with J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser.
“They were so good for us last year,” Tocchet stated. “Millsy is the type of player, you help him out on the forecheck, they got a lot of puck possession numbers last year, huge. And I think I want to see them together. Those two were the best on the forecheck and then “Bess” can do his thing. I like that chemistry, I really do. Whether we keep it all the time, we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, projected Canucks top-six winger Ilya Mikheyev skated without contact on Tuesday. He’s coming off knee surgery and also missing a few days of camp for personal reasons.
“It’s good to get him out with the main group, the theory is to get him out with the guys and he’s been working really hard,” Tocchet said. “It’s obviously day to day or we’ … I’m not quite sure yet, but we’ve got to get him acclimated with our group before we can have full contact. We’ll talk to the doctors, it’s fluid when it comes to that.”
It sounded like Tocchet was about to say week-to-week.
Mikheyev has a history of being injury prone.
His fellow Russian forward, 22-year-old Vasily Podkolzon, continues to struggle with elements of the game that he always seemed to struggle with; the 200 foot game and certain assignments.
“For ‘Podzy’, he’s working his butt off,” Tocchet said. “He’s just trying too hard with some of his reads again, we’ve gotta make sure we dial that in, I think sometimes we take a step back, let him get acclimated.”
The coach expects two more preseason games with a mixed line-up and expects to have his NHL roster pretty well defined by game four.
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