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Young Stars: Get to know the Canucks Rookies

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers Rookies open the 2011 Young Stars Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 11 against the Vancouver Canucks Rookies in Penticton. Who are the opponents and how do the Oilers stack up?

Jordan Schroeder Anton Rodin Nicklas Jensen

Jordan Schroeder – 1st round, 22nd overall in 2009

Intelligence, awareness and vision: Jordan Schroeder truly does have it all in his elite, two-way arsenal. At 5’9” and 180 pounds, the Minnesota native isn’t the most imposing, but size doesn’t always equal success.

Schroeder’s rookie season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose was productive, scoring 10 goals and 28 points in 61 games last season. His elite skill-set is still developing, but the Young Stars Tournament will provide another opportunity to showcase his ever-evolving game.

Nicklas Jensen – 1st round, 29th overall in 2011

The talented Dane made his OHL debut in 2010-11. In only 61 games, he made his mark by producing a balanced 29 goals and 58 points, with an impressive +14 rating providing the cherry.

Jensen proudly describes himself as a scorer, but there’s so much more to highlight. At 6’3” and 187 pounds, the 18-year-old is a strong, two-way centre that’s counted upon to produce, but also to be a reliable presence in his own end.

Anton Rodin – 2nd round, 53rd overall in 2009

When it comes to a balanced attack, Anton Rodin can be used in all situations, while still respecting his dynamic scoring touch. Rodin can skate well, play physical and handle the puck at an elite level already, which has helped serve a successful tenure in Sweden’s Elitserien.

In 53 games with Brynas IF Gavle last season, he scored seven goals and 26 points. Rodin has committed to playing in North America in 2011-12, meaning he’ll get a quick introduction to the NHL and the Canucks’ Northwest Division opponents in Penticton.

Yann Sauve
Kevin Connauton

Yann Sauve – 2nd round, 41st overall in 2008

Last season, Yann Sauve saw it all. He quickly became accustomed to bus and plane rides, hotels and dining out in strange towns. In total, he played 52 games with the Canucks’ three pro clubs. The AHL’s Manitoba Moose played host to 39, where he amassed three goals and 14 points in an impressive rookie showing.

He’s not widely known for his offensive production, so expect to see a physical, unwelcoming presence for his counterparts in Penticton.

Kevin Connauton – 3rd round, 83rd overall in 2009

Following an impressive 2009-10 season in which he scored 24 goals and 72 points with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, Connauton donned a pro sweater last season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. In 73 games, he produced 11 goals and 23 points in his rookie campaign.

Although the 6’2”, 200-pound blueliner isn’t especially physical, Connauton’s lethal shot, poise and smooth-skating stride makes him a dangerous weapon up-ice, and even more so on the power-play.

The Canucks and Oilers’ entries are strikingly similar when you break down the rosters. Vancouver’s top dogs thrive on a speedy pace, featuring high-octane skill and creativity. Jensen, Rodin and Schroeder will be a lethal threat, but the Oilers can respond with a two-pronged attack.

Surely Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will shine in a scoring role, but Tyler Pitlick and other returnees will help carry the load. In addition, having the luxury of playing newcomers Anton Lander, Travis Ewanyk and Curtis Hamilton in shutdown roles can open up several options.

All three can dominate a game in a power-forward capacity, balancing their skill-set as set-up men, scoring threats and defensive specialists.

On the backend, look for Martin Marincin, David Musil and Colten Teubert to shine. They’re big, physical defencemen that love to challenge opponents in a game of body position and puck control.

The Oilers' unrelenting surge up front, in addition to brawn, mobility and puck-skill on the blueline could potentially be too much for the Canucks' skilled players to overcome.

How do you see this matchup playing out?

Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick

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