Abbotsford Canucks, Arshdeep Bains, Canucks Prospects, Connor Lockhart, Filip Johansson, Jonathan Lekkerimäki

Canucks Prospects Report: Bains, Lekkerimaki, Johansson & More

Welcome to the latest Vancouver Canucks Prospects Report. With the offseason in full swing for many prospects and the Abbotsford Canucks one loss away from elimination, this might be one of the last reports until the 2023-24 season.

Vancouver Canucks Prospects Report

In this edition, we will check in on Jonathan Lekkerimaki and his team’s quest for promotion to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and marvel at the shorthanded brilliance of Arshdeep Bains in the American Hockey League (AHL) Playoffs. We will also take a look at the professional debut of Filip Johansson and gather the latest news and notes about the playoff performances of Connor Lockhart, Daimon Gardner, and Josh Bloom.

Lekkerimaki Does Everything But Drag His Team to the SHL

The last time we checked in on Lekkerimaki, he had just put up four assists in Game 4 of the Allsvenskan Final where Djurgardens left with a 3-1 series deficit against MoDo. Facing elimination in Game 5 on April 26, he scored a goal in his team’s 6-4 win and another assist in Game 6’s 3-2 double-overtime victory to force a deciding Game 7. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help complete the comeback as he was held pointless in the final game. His five-game point streak was also snapped, leaving him with an impressive 15 points in 15 games.

Related: Canucks 2022-23 Report Cards: Brock Boeser

Latest News & Highlights

Now the question becomes, where does Lekkerimaki play next season? Considering he dominated the playoffs and started to show off his offensive awareness and wicked wrist shot again, would his development be stunted in a lower league like the Allsvenskan? If I was general manager Patrik Allvin, I would want him playing in the highest league possible, which overseas would be the SHL. With Djurgardens facing yet another season in the Allsvenskan, that is now off the table. So that leaves the AHL and a plane ride to Abbotsford. First, the Canucks need to sign him to an entry-level contract and hope that his injury woes are behind him. If he can translate his success overseas (especially from the playoffs) to the AHL, and stay healthy, a 2022-23 season like Linus Karlsson’s could be in the cards for 2023-24.

Abbotsford Canucks in a Hole After Two Games in Calgary

Abbotsford came into the second round of the AHL Playoffs riding a two-game winning streak. Now they are facing elimination after dropping two games on the road to the Calgary Wranglers. Game 1 was dominated by the Canucks, but as expected, AHL MVP Dustin Wolf stoned them time and time again to set the stage for Jakob Pelletier’s overtime winner after Aatu Raty had tied it at two with a laser in the third period. Spencer Martin got the start and ended up making 37 saves in the loss.

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Then came Game 2, one riddled with penalties as the game featured 17 power plays (seven for the Canucks, nine for the Wranglers). The Canucks ended up going 0/7 and the Wranglers 2/9, which was essentially the difference in the game as they lost 4-3 in overtime. But enough of the negative, let’s focus on some positives – mainly the penalty killing of Bains. With the Wranglers up 1-0 on a goal by Clark Bishop and the Canucks killing one of their many penalties in the game, Bains dashed down the ice on a 2-on-1 and snapped home his first-ever postseason shorthanded goal over the glove of Wolf. But he wasn’t done there, in his second shift killing the same penalty, he stole the puck in the offensive zone and made a quick deke to score his second shorthanded goal in the span of 95 seconds.

The Canucks added another goal by Tristen Nielsen in the second to go up 3-1 and appeared to be well on their way to a split. Unfortunately, as mentioned, the Wranglers came back on goals by Ben Jones and Dryden Hunt in the third period and finally won it on a power play goal by Matthew Phillips in overtime. Arturs Silovs suffered his first playoff loss as he made 38 saves on 42 shots. Now head coach Jeremy Colliton will have a huge decision to make for Game 3, put Martin back in or stay with Silovs. Regardless, the Canucks will have to win three straight games at home to move on to the Division Final.

Johansson Solid in Pro Debut

After a solid campaign overseas with Frolunda HC where he put up five goals and 21 points in 51 games and five points in the playoffs, Johansson made his pro debut in Game 2 against the Wranglers. His mobility was on display as he didn’t look out of place on the smaller ice and defended well against one of the top scorers in the league in Phillips. Phillips drove the net against him, but he stayed with the talented forward and disrupted him long enough to force a turnover and transition the puck the other way.

The 23-year-old is a former first-round pick (24th overall) of the Minnesota Wild, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he looks comfortable at the pro level. Touted as an offensive defenceman with a gritty side that can run a power play, he could become a Sami Salo-type quarterback with his hard slap shot and one-timer. Naturally, he needs to work on his defensive game, but that should come with time and experience in the AHL – a place he will probably spend his entire 2023-24 season.

Playoff Update – Gardner, Lockhart & Bloom

  • Gardner and the Tri-City Americans won their first-round series of the Clark Cup Playoffs against the Sioux City Musketeers 2-0 but got eliminated in the second round by the Fargo Force. Gardner ended the playoffs with two assists in four games.
  • Lockhart had a strong week (April 24-30) in the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs with the Peterborough Petes as he scored four goals and an assist – including a hat trick in Game 6 against the Ottawa 67’s – to win the OHL’s Player of the Week award. Playing on a line with Owen Beck (Montreal Canadiens) and Chase Stillman (New Jersey Devils), he is now up to six goals and 10 points. His team is currently in the conference finals against the North Bay Battalion (tied 1-1 with Game 3 set to go on Tuesday).
Connor Lockhart Peterborough Petes
Connor Lockhart, Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)
  • Speaking of the Battalion, Josh Bloom is struggling a bit to find his offensive game after posting 25 goals and 55 points in the regular season. He has an okay stat line of two goals and eight points in 15 games, but he hasn’t scored in 10 games and only has three points in that span. If the Battalion hope to move on to the OHL Final and have a chance at a Memorial Cup berth, he needs to get going soon.

That does it for another Canucks Prospect Report! Stay tuned for the next (and possibly final) one of the 2022-23 season next week as the offseason becomes a reality for everyone across the Canucks pipeline.

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