Botchford: A six-pack of impressions from Young Stars

 

 
 
 
 
Winnipeg Jets’ Aaron Harstad, left, plows into the Canucks’ Jake Virtanen in Sunday’s game. ‘I saw it cominng,’ said Virtanen, who had blasted Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in an earlier match at Penticton.   — The Canadian Press
 

Winnipeg Jets’ Aaron Harstad, left, plows into the Canucks’ Jake Virtanen in Sunday’s game. ‘I saw it cominng,’ said Virtanen, who had blasted Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in an earlier match at Penticton. — The Canadian Press

Photograph by: Jeff Bassett, THE CANADIAN PRESS

PENTICTON — The Top Six take-aways from the Canucks second game in the Penticton Young Stars tournament. It was a game in which the Canucks beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.

6. Jordan Subban has been the Canucks’ best defensive prospect

Ben Hutton may have the higher upside, but here, in two games, Subban has been the dynamic, playmaking defenceman he can be when he’s at his best.

He picked off a pass in the first period, rushed it down the wing, curled in toward the net, created a scoring chance and drew a penalty.

Things like that tend to get noticed.

There is no getting around his 5-foot-9 frame and the fact it may limit him in the pros.

But there’s no reason to think, down the line, that it’s not possible for him to play the same role Yannick Weber had with the Canucks last year. That would be on a third pairing with power-play time worked in.

In the Canucks’ second-game win against the Winnipeg Jets prospects, Subban was everywhere, a rover extraordinaire.

And, as some took note, his head was never down. This is a good thing.

“It’s not easy, especially shooting with your head up, but it’s something that I’ve worked on the last few years and I guess I’m just used to it now,” Subban said.

“In practice, when I’m stick handling, I put an emphasis on it.”

5. Jared McCann finally got some payoff

McCann has been the most creative offensive forward for the Canucks here, which is saying something because he’s known more as two-way, defensive-minded centre.

He missed a series of chances but finally got rewarded, scoring the Canucks’ first goal Sunday on their way to a 4-1 win.

McCann held out his arms after the goal and ended up wrapping his arms around an official.

“The ref looked like he needed a hug,” McCann said.

4. Ben Hutton is the ‘real deal’

Vancouver GM Jim Benning set the bar pretty high for Hutton in March when he predicted the then-University of Maine blueliner had the potential to be a top-four defenceman for the Canucks.

Honestly, there are not many defensive prospects in the Canucks pipeline you could say that about while maintaining a straight face.

In two games in Penticton, however, Hutton has not let Benning down.

“He is the real deal,” Jared McCann said. “To me, he’s a great defenceman. He moves the puck well. He has great vision and he can skate.

“What more do you need?”

Not much.

3. After cross checking Nik Ehlers into the boards, Subban wanted to get punched in the head.

It’s unfortunate Subban sent Ehlers head first into the boards on an ugly, cross-check hit that drew a penalty and got him jumped.

He had been engaged in a pretty good battle with one of the Jets’ biggest stars here.

The two were grappling in the corner for the puck for some time. A couple of times, Subban went to hit Ehlers and Ehlers leaned back into him, in a sort-of reverse hit.

Subban said he thought the same thing was going to happen behind the net, but Ehlers was off balance.

“I don’t think I shoved him too hard, but he was in a little bit of a vulnerable situation,” Subban said.

“I’ve played against (Brendan Lemieux) so I was looking to see if he was on the ice (right after the hit).

“Then he came in and evened it up (by punching Subban in the head). That’s what I wanted, so it was good.”

2. Remember the guy the Canucks got in the Eddie Lack trade? He was good.

The Canucks looked like an entirely different team in Game 2. Against the Jets, they were rarely in their end, dominating puck possession and piling up shot attempts.

At one point, the shots were 34-14 in favour of the Canucks.

The most improved was Guillaume Brisebois, who is also the youngest player in the tournament; he killed it in Game 2.

Remember, the Canucks used the pick they got back in the Lack trade to draft Brisebois in the third round. He turned 18 in July.

In the first two periods Sunday he had three shots on net, and showcased all kinds of offensive upside while shutting down a Jets top six that featured three players who will be in the NHL this year.

“I was a lot less nervous than I was in the first game,” Brisebois said. “I had a lot of adapting to do.

“I was able to do things I couldn’t do the first game.”

Man, it looked good.

1. The hitter became the hit-ee

Yes, they are still talking about the Jake Virtanen-on-Connor McDavid hit.

By now, everyone knows Virtanen pancaked McDavid. Interestingly, it was the first and last game McDavid played at the tournament.

On Sunday, Jets defenceman Aaron Harstad did something similar, plowing through Virtanen at the blueline as the Canucks forward got a puck around him.

“I saw it coming,” Virtanen said. “I was kind of reaching for the puck and I know he’s a guy who steps up and makes some pretty big hits.

“I thought I would just take that one.

“It turned into a scoring opportunity for us, so we’ll take that any day.”

What are the chances Virtanen is sat out of Monday’s finalé?

He’s shown enough here.

 
 
 
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Winnipeg Jets’ Aaron Harstad, left, plows into the Canucks’ Jake Virtanen in Sunday’s game. ‘I saw it cominng,’ said Virtanen, who had blasted Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in an earlier match at Penticton.   — The Canadian Press
 

Winnipeg Jets’ Aaron Harstad, left, plows into the Canucks’ Jake Virtanen in Sunday’s game. ‘I saw it cominng,’ said Virtanen, who had blasted Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in an earlier match at Penticton. — The Canadian Press

Photograph by: Jeff Bassett, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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