The Sunday Crease

The Sunday Crease: Pettersson hype, Young Stars shine and State of the Blog

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Last year, I decided to try my hand at writing a weekly column, with the hopes that I could use it to cover more Canucks topics every week as well as learn a little time management along the way. Aside from some early slipups, I managed to pull it all together and create a column that not only brought in some of my best numbers in the site’s history, but one that I was extremely proud to call my own.

For those reasons and more, I’m thrilled to be bringing The Sunday Crease back for a second season, where I’ll be discussing the ups and downs of the 2018-19 Canucks campaign, along with other stories from the hockey world.

Welcome back to the crease, everybody.

All Aboard the Hype Train!

The Young Stars Classic has come and gone, and for Canucks Nation it couldn’t have gone much better. Trent Cull and the Jr. Nucks swept the Winnipeg Jets prospects in the weekend set, in the form of a crushing 8-2 win on Friday and a much closer 5-3 victory earlier today. In both games the offense was electric, the defenders were solid and the goaltending made the big saves when they were needed most.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s talk about Elias Pettersson.

Pettersson was stellar this weekend, scoring three goals and making plays all over the ice. While it took him a little bit of time in the first game to figure out the smaller North American ice, he announced his presence loudly in the second period with a bullet shot over the shoulder of Jets goalie Mikhail Berdin.

Pettersson’s line with Jonathan Dahlen and Kold Lind was next to unstoppable, swarming Winnipeg’s end and creating good chances at even strength and on the power play. But my favourite Elias play from the weekend wasn’t one of his goals, but the great back check he made to prevent a Jets’ odd man rush.

This sort of play gives me so much hope for what Pettersson could become; a lethal scorer who’ll play hard at both ends of the ice. If this is what Elias’ can do now, just imagine what he’ll be with a few NHL seasons under his belt.

But Pettersson was far from the lone standout in the tournament. In fact, his linemate Jonathan Dahlen was arguably the best Canucks’ player this weekend. Dahlen was a great set-up man in both games, and even notched a trio of goals himself, like this filthy breakaway dangle in Game 1.

Adam Gaudette proved why he deserves to make the big club this season, scoring a pair of goals by putting himself in the right places for rebounds and deflections. His hockey IQ is already at an NHL level, and if he plays like it in the preseason Canucks management’s decisions are going to be a whole lot tougher.

While the results of a prospects game should obviously taken with a grain of salt, there’s something to be said for the way the kids played this weekend. Some of the team’s top prospects were notably absent, particularly on defense with blue chip blueliner Quinn Hughes in Michigan and the Jett Woo being forced out due to injury.

I could honestly go on and on about the young guns that stood out in these two contests. Jonah Gadjovich and Petrus Palmu were constant scoring threats, Michael DiPietro was rock solid on Saturday and Garrett McFadden saved a sure goal in the opener by channelling his inner Alex Edler.

At the end of the day, these games are just a tune up and a chance to showcase the best young talent. For some of these players, the real work lies ahead with Canucks training camp getting underway in a week’s time. But if there’s one thing you can take out of these two victories, it’s that the Canucks have an amazing future ahead, and this is only the beginning.

Around the Rinks

It’s not often you hear about NHL players getting busted for steroids, but we got some major news last Sunday when Golden Knights defensemen Nate Schmidt was handed a 20 game suspension for failing a drug test. The most unusual part of the whole situation was how adamantly Schmidt, the Golden Knights and his agent denied the test’s accuracy. I doubt his suspension will be reduced if they can’t definitively prove where the drug came from, but we’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday the Jets gave captain Blake Wheeler a five-year extension worth $41.25 million, presumably making him a Jet until he retires. Wheeler will be 38 by the time this contract runs out in 2023-24, and he’ll be earning at least $6.25 million a year until that point. I really like Wheeler as both a player and a person, but I worry if this contract could hurt Winnipeg down the road. He might be coming off a career year where he put up 91 points, but at 32 years old that’s likely an outlier rather the new reality. But if he can match or improve on that total in the next few years, the Jets will be practically skipping to the bank.

LITC Update: State of the Blog 2018-19

The 2018-19 season hasn’t started yet, but it’s already shaping up to be my busiest ever.

Back in May I began working as a contributor at Fear the Fin, a San Jose Sharks blog on SB Nation. There I’ll be covering the Sharks’ AHL affiliates, the San Jose Barracuda, so if you’re looking for coverage of Vancouver’s rival prospect pools, I’ll be seeing plenty of them this season. So go check it out!

With the big amount of new responsibilities working at FTF brings, I’ll be devoting more time to writing this season than ever before, which means more content here as well! Aside from the Sunday Crease, I’m planning to add more feature stories and other Canucks content throughout the year.

One thing I was planning to have announced by now was a podcast, but sadly plans with a potential co-host fell through. If I do happen to find one at any point this year, a midseason launch wouldn’t be out of the question, so I’ll you keep you posted on that.

Now for the big question; what about the YouTube videos?

After a couple false starts on YouTube, I’m trying to decide what I want to do with my channel. I really like the video medium, and would love to try it again and again until it sticks. With so much writing already on my plate this season, videos aren’t going to be my main priority, but if I can manage to make a few here or there, I will.

For any new readers who’d like to keep tabs on all my work this season, you can follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page for updates. If you’d like to help support me and my work throughout this season, there quite a few ways you can do that. One is to buy any NHL tickets you want through my partnership with SeatGeek, which you learn more about here. You can also support me directly through my Ko-Fi page for the price of your average cup of coffee, with more info about that here.

As for free support, I can’t tell you enough how much sharing my articles and liking them on social media helps. As more and more readers show up, I’ll be able to devote more and more time to working on the site and improving my articles.

Finally, I’d like to close this column by thanking everyone who’s supported this site over the last two and a half years. This began as a fun side project for me in 2016, and thanks to all of you I’ve been able to make it bigger and better than I ever thought possible. I can’t wait for all the challenges and fun content this season is going to bring, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Oh, one last thing; David Booth can go sit on a cactus.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the Canucks’ Young Stars performance this weekend? Leave a comment below!

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