The hockey season is slowing starting across the globe.
We are just under a month away from the Canucks Prospect Camp kicking off on September 7th, but there still has been plenty of hockey to watch over the last couple of weeks and that will continue into August.
The first major event was the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, MI followed by the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It means that some of the prospects within the organization are getting back on the ice.
Here are some updates on some of the players that participated in the World Juniors Summer Showcase and then a look at the top two picks from the past draft.
Jett Woo represented Canada at the recent World Junior Summer Showcase (WJSS) appearing in one game picking up an assist. It shouldn't be viewed as a surprise that Woo only dressed for one of the four games that Canada played at the event as he has spent most of the summer recovering from an injury suffered to close out last season. The Canucks 2018 2nd round pick has a very good shot to make the World Junior team this winter, so there is no reason to risk further injury at this event.
Woo will attend Canucks Prospect and Training Camp but will head back to the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL for the upcoming season.
Carson Focht was selected by the Canucks in the 5th round of this past draft after not getting selected in his first year of eligibility in 2018. He dressed for Canada in three games at the WJSS scoring one goal and assisting on another. He finished the event with 10 shots on goal, which was the second most on Team Canada. He got better with each passing game displaying what makes him an intriguing prospect, which is a tenacious, skilled, and smart pivot that can create offence through his work ethic.
Focht will head back to the WHL for this upcoming season and try to help lead the Hitmen on a long playoff run.
Once again Toni Utunen was a leader for the Finnish team. The defenceman was the captain of the WJSS team scoring two goals and picking up one assist, all of which came against Canada, and dressing in all five contests. Utunen is never really counted on for offence, but is such a cerebral player that leads by example. The Canucks 2018 5th round pick is almost certainly a lock to represent Finland at the World Juniors this December after being a big part of their backend during their gold medal run here last season. He will also be in the running to wear the C for that event.
Utunen will head back to Finland to play for Tappara in Liiga this season. They will also participate in the Champions Hockey League this season, which kicks off on August 29th.
Nils Hoglander, a 2019 2nd round pick, was originally invited to represent Sweden at the WJSS, but opted to remain in Sweden for the event to prepare for the upcoming season. Although it would've been nice for Canucks fans to get a chance to see the shifty winger in a game for the first time since he was selected, it may prove to be the right decision for him.
Hoglander had a fantastic season in the SHL last year and is looking to build on that with a larger role. He has a very good chance to represent Sweden at the World Juniors, after being one of the final cuts last season, and thus a strong start to his SHL campaign will provide more value in the long run.
Russia doesn't participate in the WJSS, but 2019 1st round pick Vasili Podkolzin has already suited up in a few contests these past few weeks. Playing at the Sochi Open event as part of the Russian select team, Podkolzin has been dazzling. Everything that made him a top prospect for this past draft is coming through when he jumps over the boards.
The main thing that stands out about his game is his work ethic. In all three zones, the Russian forward is never giving up on the play and constantly has his feet moving.
Podkolzin will be a part of the Russian World Junior team this winter after making the team as a 17-year-old last year. He wasn't afforded a massive role last season, but showed flashes of potential that will hopefully come to fruition this year in the Czech Republic.