The team on the ice may have been wearing Canucks jerseys, but they sure didn’t look like the Canucks. In this case, that’s a good thing, as the Canucks prospects were absolutely dominant in a way that we haven’t seen in Vancouver for years.
When the team wins 8-2, with six different players recording multiple point games, it gets pretty hard to narrow down the three stars. Many players deserved it, but here are the three stars of the game, along with plenty of honourable mentions.
3rd Star: Jonah Gadjovich
I could have gone a couple ways with this star. Michael DiPietro wasn’t as busy as the Jets goaltenders, but put in a solid performance. Petrus Palmu had two goals, while Kole Lind made the most of his plum position on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen.
I’m giving the nod to the other two-goal scorer on the night: Jonah Gadjovich. That’s partly because Gadjovich’s two goals showed exactly why he’s one of the most intriguing parts of the Canucks’ prospect pool.
His first goal was a classic big forward move: go to the front of the net, screen the goaltender, and look for tips. He got in the goaltenders’ eye-line, welcomed the contact from the Jets’ defenceman, and stretched out his stick to deflect Jakob Brahaney’s point shot in.
It was some impressive hand-eye coordination from Gadjovich, who was being shoved at the time and had his stick fully stretched out back across his body. That’s the type of hand-eye coordination in front of the net that can lead to a long career of setting up screens on an NHL power play.
But Gadjovich isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to goalscoring. He also has a fantastic shot.
In with Tanner MacMaster on a 2-on-1, Gadjovich took MacMaster’s early pass, settled the puck, and sniped it top corner. The goaltender had no chance at all.
Gadjovich also played some solid minutes on the Canucks’ penalty kill and was noticeable on the forecheck. It was an all-around solid game for Gadjovich, capped by a couple nice goals.
2nd Star: Jonathan Dahlen
If you were hoping for some rekindled chemistry between Jonathan Dahlen and Elias Pettersson in this game, you got it in spades. Dahlen assisted on both of Pettersson’s goals and Pettersson assisted on Dahlen’s goal, and the duo combined with Kole Lind to form a dominant top line.
Dahlen’s skating was one of the highlights of this game. Though he’s not the fastest skater, his edgework is sublime, bringing to mind Jeff Skinner. Of course, so did Hunter Shinkaruk’s edgework. Still, there was plenty more to like about Dahlen, particularly his proclivity for driving to the net.
While Dahlen got stymied on one early cut to the net, he had better luck on a breakaway in the second period. He opened up the five-hole with a well-sold deke, then tucked it home to make the score 4-0.
The skating and puck skills were nice to see, but his awareness and hockey IQ also stood out. He made great reads away from the puck and was frequently in the right place to force a turnover or at least a regroup. That’s what led to his first assist, picking off a pass in the neutral zone to set up Pettersson.
Similarly, he read a Kole Lind steal perfectly in the third period, jumping up into a scoring position and taking a hard shot that handcuffed the Jets goaltender, forcing a rebound off the shoulder. That led to Pettersson’s second goal.
Dahlen did have one ugly moment, a turnover in the defensive zone that gave the Jets one of their best chances of the game, but Matt Ustaski hit the crossbar. That doesn’t take away from an overall fantastic game for the young Swede.
1st Star: Elias Pettersson
This was exactly the type of game you would hope for from Elias Pettersson at a prospects tournament. He finished the game with two goals and an assist, but that doesn’t fully capture all the little things he did during the game that made the Canucks’ top line go.
Pettersson looked completely comfortable at centre, even if he wasn’t always comfortable in the faceoff circle. He came down low to support the defence in his own end of the rink and created several turnovers with his smart positioning and sneaky stick. Offensively, he made mature passes to prolong offensive pressure instead of trying to force plays. He even had a shift on the penalty kill, where he had the clear at the end of his shift to finish killing off the penalty.
His points will capture most of the attention, however, and rightfully so. His stretch pass to set up Dahlen’s goal was a gorgeous piece of playmaking. It was a heads up play by Jonathan Dahlen to sneak in behind the defence, but Pettersson hitting him in stride gave him the breakaway.
The most eye-catching moment, of course, was his absurd shot on his first goal of the game. After Dahlen picked off Declan Chisholm’s pass in the neutral zone, he dropped the puck to Pettersson, who skated in and waited patiently for Chisholm to attempt to get his stick in the shooting lane.
Pettersson then pulled the puck in to change the angle and sent a laser beam into the top corner.
Let’s see that again.
Pettersson topped things off with another goal, giving the Canucks eight total. He took advantage of a big rebound off a tough Dahlen shot and snapped the puck in just as the puck hit the ice. It was some nice hand-eye coordination, but a little less impressive than his previous two points.
Pettersson came close to getting even more. He hit the post on a lovely set up by Kole Lind. Later in the third period, he made a great play to steal the puck at the Jets’ blue line and sent Lind in all alone, but he couldn’t slide the puck five-hole.
Feel free to stoke the fires of the Pettersson hype train a little bit, though let the level of competition in this game keep you from going full steam ahead. The Jets were largely a one-line team in this game.
- Adam Gaudette opened the scoring with a deflection a minute into the game, then later had the second assist on Palmu’s first goal. He also had some nice, aggressive penalty killing shifts and looked strong on the forecheck.
- Kole Lind deserves a lot of credit for how he played with Pettersson and Dahlen. He’s a smart player and fit in nicely on the right wing with the two Swedes. His work along the boards was notable, as he won board battles and even drew a penalty down low on the cycle. He also picked a pocket with a well-timed stick lift that led to Pettersson’s second goal. He finished the game with two well-earned assists.
- Poor Lukas Jasek should have had the second assist on Gadjovich’s 2-0 goal, but got stiffed by the scorekeeper, who gave it to Tanner MacMaster instead. At least he gets an Honourable Mention on PITB.
- Petrus Palmu looks like he’ll be wearing a Canucks jersey at some point this season. He scored two goals and was buzzing around the offensive zone all game, frequently winning puck battles against larger players. His goals weren’t quite as eye-catching as some of the others in this game, but they showed his awareness and hands around the net.
- The top pairing of Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield was mostly fantastic. Apart from one Chatfield turnover that led to the Jets’ first goal, the pairing didn’t draw much attention to themselves. That was mostly because the puck rarely stayed near them for long, as they quickly transitioned the puck up ice at every opportunity. Juolevi did have one nice rush in the third period, showing some nifty stickhandling, and he was very effective at keeping the puck in at the blue line, but otherwise was content letting the forwards take centre stage.
- Michael DiPietro looked a little more calm and poised in net than last year. That meant less scrambling around his crease and more taking away the angle and swallowing rebounds. You couldn’t fault him on either of the goals he allowed and he made several solid stops. Not a highlight-reel performance, but a good one nonetheless.