It was quite a weekend for the Vancouver Canucks as the calendar turned over to October.
The team picked up a decent win against the Edmonton Oilers, cleaned house on the roster with a couple of surprising moves, while head coach Rick Tocchet continued to speak his mind.
After a couple of preseason defeats, the Canucks bounced back on Saturday night with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Although the visiting roster was missing a few of it’s biggest names — sans Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for example — the game provided a confidence boost for a Canucks team that featured a bona fide NHL line-up.
After falling behind one-nothing in the first, the Canucks jumped ahead for good with two second period goals from captain Quinn Hughes, one of them batted home while going to the net.
The Vancouver power play finished 2-for-6, while without their big guns, the Oilers went a less vaunted 0-for-4.
The club announced a slew of moves on Sunday morning:
The two names that jump off the page are Jack Rathbone and Vasily Podkolzin, neither ready for primetime. The 24-hour period for Rathbone to clear waivers has apparently just wrapped up. Since he wasn’t picked up by another NHL club it means he’s back where he doesn’t want to be; Abbotsford. That of course, means nothing against the town or the franchise, but one would have to believe the 24-year-old Rathbone is way past ready for a change of scenery.
It’s just not happening for him on the blueline, a similar situation to Podkolzin up front. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet spoke at length about the 22-year-old Russian winger on Sunday.
“It’s just to grasp the NHL level,” Tocchet said. “He checks all the boxes with hard work, what a great kid, but now it’s grasping the NHL. The reads, the hockey IQ, things like that. I think it’s very important for his development. I think him spending some time with Jeremy (Colliton, head coach in Abbotsford), playing a lot, putting him in a lot of situations is going to help that growth in his mind. That’s what I believe in my mind and the organization, we’re aligned in this.”
Organizations hate to give up on 1st-rounders, especially 10th-overall picks, even if that selection was made by a previous regime. Then Canucks GM Jim Benning’s group picked Podkolzin in 2019.
“You can’t worry about what pick right now,” Tocchet added. “He’s just gotta worry about being an NHL player, like that’s the hardest part, people outside saying ‘oh, he’s a 10th pick, the 10th pick should be here, should be there,’ but hopefully by putting him down, the past is the past, by him marinating down there, learning the game, is the best thing for a player like him.”
Less surprising and with a much less urgent feeling was 2021 Canucks 2nd-rounder Danila Klimovich being sent back to the AHL. The Belarusian right winger is on somewhat of a normal development track, having finished with 18 and then 29 points over his first two professional seasons.
He’s a power forward, best summed up by Elite Prospects before his draft.
Klimovich moves on the first touch and cuts inside on most opponents. He plays his game in between the dots as much as possible, uses teammates, and plays with a hard, and violent energy.
The 20-year-old will stay at it.
— Later in the day, 22-year-old Latvian goaltender Arturs Silovs joined the 12 other young players not requiring waivers on his way down to Abbotsford. That list included local favourite, Surrey native, forward Arshdeep Bains.
— The Canucks host the Seattle Kraken in Abbotsford on Wednesday night.
— Former Canucks Forward Brandon Sutter Retires