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Spotlight on Kielly & Rafferty

...newcomers travel with Canucks on final road trip

by Ryan Biech @ryanbiech / Freelance writer

The organization was busy this week adding a couple of more prospects from the NCAA.

It started on Monday morning when the Canucks signed Clarkson goaltender Jake Kielly to an entry-level contract, and then a few hours later with the team agreeing to terms on a contract with Quinnipiac defenceman Brogan Rafferty.

Both players fill needs in the prospect pool and provide depth in their respective positions for next season.

We'll look at these who these players are and what type of game they play.

Jake Kielly

The 6'2" and 200 lbs netminder was signed early on Monday morning and was already on the ice with the Canucks goaltending coach, Ian Clark, that afternoon.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the prospect, as Clarkson won the ECAC championship by dispatching Cornell 3-2 in overtime in the finals. With the title win, they were selected to play in the NCAA regionals and had their eyes on securing the title. Unfortunately, they fell to Notre Dame in overtime by that familiar 3-2 score on Friday.

With his season done, Kielly was free to leave collegiate hockey and sign with any NHL team and ultimately chose the Canucks.

Kielly has a very impressive track record over the last few seasons which includes the aforementioned ECAC title, where he was named to the ECAC All-Tournament Team and the Second All-Star Team. Last season, he was named to the ECAC Third All-Star Team and the All-Rookie Team during his freshman season in 2016-17.

This season, he is a finalist for the Mike Richter Award, which is awarded to the NCAA's best goaltender.

Prior to his NCAA career, he backstopped the Tri-City Strom to a Clark Cup title in 2015-16.

His run of awards and championships speaks to his calmness and consistency in the net. He doesn't have a particular style of play that you can point to, but consistently controls the puck to limit secondary chances. He is a mobile goaltender in the net when the need arises, but does rely more on his read of the play to ensure that he isn't caught in a situation where he is scrambling.

Kielly will be 23 when next season begins and has shown over the last few years that he can be a difference maker in the net for every team he has played for. The Canucks are hoping that he will continue that winning pedigree as a member of the organization.

Video: PREGAME | Kielly vs. Sharks

Brogan Rafferty

The additions continued Monday, as the organization also signed Rafferty to an entry-level contract that afternoon.

The right-handed defender had just completed his junior season with Quinnipiac University that saw him post four goals and 20 assists in 38 games. The Bobcats had lost in the ECAC Quarterfinals to Brown, but were selected to join the NCAA regionals as one of the best teams to not have won a conference title. They won their first regional game with a 2-1 win over Arizona State, but fell 3-1 to Minnesota Duluth on Sunday.

Rafferty is a late bloomer as a defenceman after playing forward until his senior year in high school. He made the switch to the backend after realizing that his skillset might be best suited as a puck-moving defenceman. That also followed a growth spurt that saw him go from 5'8" at 16 years-old to the 6'2" that he is now.

The newest signee possesses excellent skating abilities that allow him to create space for himself before he efficiently moves the puck to his teammates with speed. He is willing to jump into the rush when the situation arises relying on his read of the play to recognize when is the best time to do so.

He has a physical edge to his game where he uses his size and skating abilities to lay the perfectly timed hit. Collegiate hockey does limit that attribute to some degree, so it should be something that we see more of when he does suit up for a professional game.

The organization has had success with NCAA free agents in the past. Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev went undrafted, but agreed to terms with the Canucks and both have had successful careers with the organization.

It's not fair to expect the same career from all the free agents, but they should be viewed as players that supplement the organizational depth. Kielly and Rafferty fill immediate needs for the organization, and both have had successful careers thus far to suggest they are intriguing options in the long term.

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