VANCOUVER, B.C. – With the NHL trade deadline wrapping up at 3 PM EST Monday, the AHL has also seen a good bit of shuffling with the players moving between teams. For the Abbotsford Canucks, they’ve benefitted from a relatively quiet day from the big club as they look to gear up for a Calder Cup run themselves.
The AHL loan/trade deadline happens next Monday, March 28th. But, the NHL deadline already has given us a look at Abbotsford’s endgame.
Vancouver GM Patrik Allvin has already confirmed a big piece. The services of former 2019 10th overall pick Vasily Podkolzin will be available to the Abbotsford Canucks, though he will currently remain with the big club.
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) March 21, 2022
Abbotsford will get a player who has already established himself as a top-nine contributor in the NHL, someone who can score and dish the puck exceptionally well. Podkolzin competes with a high motor and is an absolute hound on the forecheck. For the AHL club to get someone like him for the stretch run and the playoffs? It’ll be huge for the team.
This also allows Podkolzin to get some game time in an elevated role. Currently sitting on ten goals and six assists through 61 games, the rookie hasn’t been bad by any means. However, playing in Abbotsford’s top-six should help with his development to sharpen his high-end talent. Podkolzin will be depended upon as a go-to player, fitting in well with the Canucks’ hard forecheck and quick transition game. It’ll be a chance for him as well to be a leading figure on a playoff team.
The one trade that the Vancouver Canucks made on deadline day was to send fourth-line stalwart Tyler Motte to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round pick. This also means that there is now a spot on the fourth line for the big club to fill.
There’s a plethora of players that Abbotsford can offer up in that role. Excluding the waiver claim of Brad Richardson, the Canucks can call upon the services of Will Lockwood, a speedy winger that is also from Michigan, to be that checking player with occasional offensive upside.
— Michael Liu (@FPHCanucks) March 17, 2022
Lockwood has been a leader for the AHL Canucks. Wearing the “A” on his chest, Lockwood has played hard and fast each shift, leading by example on and off the ice. Many nights, he’s often the most noticeable player throughout the game. Currently, Lockwood is sitting on nine goals and 15 assists through 45 games played.
Another potential subtraction from the Abbotsford lineup is Jack Rathbone. Allvin has already mentioned him and Lockwood by name for auditions, and the young defenceman is ready for the NHL. Named Player of the Week on February 14th, Rathbone has improved with each game he’s played at the AHL level, standing out far beyond his peers.
#COLvsABB | Yushrioh Hirano tips home the puck to restore the @abbycanucks lead! Check out some smooth skating by Rathbone and excellent off the puck movement.#Canucks #AbbyCanucks pic.twitter.com/zhtgnHmeM8
— Michael Liu (@FPHCanucks) March 14, 2022
What this means for Abbotsford is that they’ll possibly be missing two key contributors during the run-up to the playoffs. While usually a cause for concern, Trent Cull has made the most of far worse. Again, the Canucks were dressing 15 players for a game during the worst of their injury crises. Plus, assuming Vancouver doesn’t make the playoffs, Lockwood and Rathbone will be back in the Abbotsford lineup before the Calder Cup playoffs begin.
This also allows for some more experimentation to happen in the Abbotsford lineup. Players like Yushrioh Hirano and Tristen Nielsen have taken massive steps in their games, becoming effective top-six options at the AHL level. With injuries to key contributors like Justin Bailey and Phil Di Giuseppe and now with players getting called up, there’s a chance for someone to step up and fill the void, possibly improving their own game even further.
— Michael Liu (@FPHCanucks) March 14, 2022
Danila Klimovich might also see some increased game time. The Belarusian hasn’t been bad in his first season in North America but has been a bit down the lineup. Consistency is the name of the game with Klimovich, but this is someone that can make a significant impact on the scoresheet when given a chance. If there’s an opening in the Abbotsford lineup, he should be one of the first names put into the gap.
Vancouver’s trade deadline allowed for some interesting scenarios to potentially take place in Abbotsford. There’s a high chance that the AHL club will become better for it and bring some dangerous weapons for the playoffs. It also opens up opportunities to develop their young talent and possibly uncover some diamonds in the rough. However it plays out, there will be exciting playoff hockey in the Lower Mainland.
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