The Canucks will have a lot of exciting young prospects at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton. Weirdly, none of them will be from their most recent draft.
Quinn Hughes, their first round pick, is already at the University of Michigan, preparing for classes and the start of the NCAA season. Likewise, third-round pick Tyler Madden is at Northeastern University, and seventh-round pick Matthew Thiessen is at the University of Maine.
Fifth-round pick Toni Utunen is already playing in Champion’s Hockey League action in Finland with his Liiga team, Tappara. Meanwhile, sixth-round pick Artyom Manukyan already has two goals in three KHL games.
That left just one Canucks prospect from the 2018 draft: Jett Woo. Unfortunately, the news broke Thursday that Woo is dealing with a lower-body injury and won’t be in the lineup for either of the two games in Penticton.
"We're excited to coach him, the same way everybody is excited to see him." #YoungStars Head Coach Trent Cull comments on what he expects from @_EPettersson and the #Canucks in Penticton. pic.twitter.com/vOwb3qsGaK— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 7, 2018
The injury reportedly happened at the Team Canada World Junior camp. Woo played in the World Junior summer showcase during the summer and brought a unique physical element to his game that gave him an outside shot at spot on the Team Canada roster. He notably had one of the best hits of the tournament in a game against Team USA.
According to TSN 1040's Jeff Paterson, Woo not only won’t be on the ice in Penticton, but won’t be at the Canucks’ main training camp either.
It’s a tough break for Woo, who was looking forward to the experience of his first NHL camp.
“It's going to be fun," said Woo. “I'm going to take everything that I learned my first time going there [for development camp in July] and at my first World Junior camp and show them that I’ve improved, both on and off the ice.
"I was the youngest guy at both the camps, so I'm just trying to learn things from the older guys, the veterans… At those camps, the intensity really rises, so doing the off-ice stuff right will help you in the long run."
Hopefully Woo will recover in time to experience at least part of training camp and get a chance to rub elbows with some of the Canucks veterans. It will be disappointing for both Woo and Canucks fans if he can’t get into a pre-season game, but this might also be an opportunity for Woo to get back to the Moose Jaw Warriors a little earlier to prepare for a big season with his Junior club.