It's a busy time of the year for the hockey world.
The U18 World Juniors kicked off earlier today, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are well on their way, and the various junior leagues are deep into their runs. In Europe, most of the leagues are already in finals before everyone turns their attention to the World Championships.
If you are a hockey fan, there is plenty to keep your attention.
Within the Canucks organization, there are still a few storylines to keep an eye on over the next few weeks and we'll cover them in this weekly prospect update.
Goaltender Michael DiPietro and the Ottawa 67's kick off their Eastern Conference matchup against the Oshawa Generals later this evening.
The Canucks prospect has been fantastic for the 67's posting an 8-0-0 record with a 2.26 GAA and 0.915 SV%. He also picked up his first career OHL playoff shutout along the way.
DiPietro was 2-3-0 in the five games that he played against Oshawa this season with three of those games coming after he was traded to Ottawa.
Oshawa is a bit of a surprise to make the conference after beating the favourite Niagara IceDogs by a 4-2 margin in their second-round best of seven series. Canucks prospect Matt Brassard had been with Oshawa for the past two seasons, but was moved to the IceDogs as Niagara loaded up for what they hoped was a long playoff run. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep up with Oshawa and see their season end sooner than that hoped.
Brassard appeared in 11 OHL playoffs games this season and picked up one goal and seven assists.
The Canucks still have two prospects over in Europe playing for their club teams.
Toni Utunen and Tappara earned their way to the Liiga Semi-Finals after sweeping Lukko in the Quarterfinals. They fell in six games to HPK in those Semi-Finals and have one game left in their season, the bronze medal game, that goes tomorrow.
The 2018 5th round pick has appeared in 10 playoff games for Tappara, picking up four penalty minutes in an average playing time of 11:48 per game. He is expected to return to Finland next season and take on a bigger role for Tappara on their backend.
2018 6th round pick Artyom Manukyan and Avangard are on the brink of elimination in the KHL finals. Down 3-0 to CSKA Moscow in the series, game four goes tomorrow and it's fair to believe that it will end tomorrow. CSKA has been the superior team in all facets of the game and are being led by the performance of goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who has posted a 1.16 goals-against-average and 0.947 save percentage this postseason.
Manukyan has dressed in 18 games this post-season for Avangard picking up one goal in 7:54 of ice time per game.
William Lockwood named Michigan Captain
Forward William Lockwood committed to returning to Michigan University for his senior season and has been named the captain for the team for the 2019-20 season.
The right-handed winger will be the 100th captain in the program's history.
Lockwood had a bounce-back year after struggling to stay healthy in the past two seasons. In 36 games with the Wolverines, Lockwood scored 16 goals and assisted on 15 more, that goal total was tops among all Michigan players.
Those numbers are even more impressive given that Michigan wasn't an offensive powerhouse and lost their first line centre in early January. Lockwood took a tangible step forward in the second half of the season and was clearly a leader for the team despite not having the 'C' on his jersey.
Canucks fans are optimistic that Lockwood's past season is a sign of things to come over his final year with Michigan and then within the Canucks organization.
Utica's season ends on a high note
It's been an up and down season for the Utica Comets with injuries ravaging the Canucks and the Comets. It resulted in a lot of adversity and line juggling throughout the entire season.
Unfortunately, the Comets were unable to make the AHL playoffs this season, but had a good final weekend to close out the regular season. They started the weekend with an 8-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins that saw Kole Lind, Lukas Jasek, and Jonah Gadjovich score goals. Forward Reid Boucher posted three goals and one assist in the romp.
They fell short to the Hershey Bears the next night by a score of 4-1 - on the positive side, Lind picked up the lone goal that night.
Finally, the Comets closed out their 2018-19 campaign with a gritty 4-3 shootout win over the Syracuse Crunch.
With a year of professional hockey under their belts, the organization hopes that those names will take the reigns offensively next season.