Andrey Pedan made a significant impression in his first two games with the Canucks as a defenceman. The physical side of his game wasn’t surprising, but his poise with the puck definitely was.
He ha shown remarkable mobility and touch. It’s enough to make you wonder what other tools he has in his toolbox.
On Saturday, at the Canucks for Kids Fund SuperSkills, we found out: he also boasts the hardest shot on the Canucks and is (possibly) the fastest skater as well.
It was surprising to even see Pedan in the fastest skater competition: 6’5”, 213 lb physical defensive defencemen generally aren’t known for their wheels. To see him post the fastest time, beating defending champion Jannik Hansen by over 3/10ths of a second was shocking.
There is, however, a pretty big asterisk on that victory. The fastest skater competition was plagued by technical difficulties, with several runs deferring to the stopwatch rather than the official clock.
Pedan’s run was one of the ones that was timed with a stopwatch. Several skaters did Superman dives at the end of their laps, as they were all wearing superhero capes, which Hansen started last year. Pedan’s dive sent him under the sensor that stopped the clock, so it kept running.
Pedan’s official time was 14.07, ahead of Hansen’s 14.419. Try timing his run with a stopwatch yourself (it starts at around 45:44) and you’ll likely get closer to 15 seconds.
Not that it matters of course, as him being anywhere near Hansen’s speed is impressive on its own and a good sign that he’ll be able to continue throwing big hits in the NHL. Strong skating is an underrated aspect of being physical in the faster pace of the big leagues.
Sidenote: check out my favourite sign of the afternoon at 47:36 in the above video. “Vrbata for mayor.” Best sign. Cutest Canucks kid goes to Chris Higgins’ daughter, Bowen, at 50:11, stealing her pacifier back from her dad, then laughing. Adorable.
There were no technical issues with the hardest shot competition, however, and Pedan won it handily, hitting a top speed of 102.0 miles per hour, following it up with a second shot at 101.8.
Alex Edler used to regularly top 100 mph, but his hardest shot hit 98.7. The closest to Pedan was Yannick Weber, who shot 101.1 and 99.4 with his two shots, while Adam Cracknell, the lone forward, hit a solid 99.5 with his second shot.
The goaltenders took part as well, something they’ve done for a couple years now, and Jacob Markstrom, who has shown himself to be a fairly adept puck handler, hit a respectable 78.3, while Joe Cannata missed the net with 69.2 mph attempt, then whiffed on the puck, sending it sliding ever-so-slowly across the ice, just over the goal line.
Pedan was also involved in the “chariot race” as the Canucks cruelly forced two young hockey players to drag around the team’s tallest and heaviest player. They were racing against two other kids dragging around Ben Hutton, who is literally 30 lbs lighter. Hutton’s team won. Shocking.
So Pedan was the star, showing his speed, shot, and size, but there were some other standout moments.
For instance, there was the moment where they got Linden Vey to deliver the traditional pie to a rookie’s face. Only the rookie was Jared McCann, who stole Vey’s job out of training camp.
Vey might have relished that a little too much.
The Canucks as a group were incredibly precise in the accuracy competition.
Alex Burrows and Adam Cracknell both went 4-for-4. Radim Vrbata and Jared McCann were both 3-for-3, but couldn’t get the last one. Vrbata ended up 4-for-5, as did Daniel Sedin, while McCann, along with Jannik Hansen, finished 4-for-6.
It looked like Hansen had made a bet with one of the kids that he would do better, as he could be seen doing pushups while Cracknell prepared to shoot. Full credit to Cracknell, incidentally: that’s some impressive shooting from a depth forward.
Finally, there was the breakaway relay, which is usually good for some creativity and fun.
My favourite moments of the breakaway relay: Alex Burrows’ no-chill slapshot from between the hashmarks post-and-in. Daniel Sedin later demonstrated his who-gives-a-rip attitude this season, winding up for slapshots on both of his attempts. He's out for blood, for sure.
Linden Vey and Alex Edler both tried some between-the-legs fanciness but couldn’t score. Ronalds Kenins’ lacrosse attempt was valiant, but he rang it off the post. Adam Cracknell got fancy but succeeded, busting out a spinorama before pulling the puck to the forehand.
Hansen and Henrik were the two most successful shooters, both going 2-for-2. Hansen went with trickery, chucking some sort of object at Joe Cannata before scoring, then wobbling a slapshot in with his second attempt. Henrik, of course, used more finesse, undressing Cannata with a couple fancy moves.
The highlight of the event belonged to McCann, however, as he managed to pull off the move that someone tries in every one of these breakaway competitions but never gets quite right: juggling the puck, then batting it out of mid-air over Cannata’s shoulder.
I unapologetically love the annual SuperSkills event and, aside from some livestreaming issues, this year’s event was plenty of fun. Hockey can be fun! Remember fun?