Welcome to the first Vancouver Canucks Prospect Report of the 2022-23 season. This edition will be very World Juniors-centric as top prospects Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Jacob Truscott and Joni Jurmo all suited up for their respective nations with varying degrees of success. Meanwhile, in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Connor Lockhart was dealt from the Erie Otters to the Peterborough Petes and Lucas Forsell and Jonathan Myrenberg will be striving to make their marks on the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and HockeyAllsvenskan respectively, in hopes of earning a spot on Sweden’s 2023 WJC team.
Finally, the report wraps up with a look-ahead to the upcoming season and where every prospect will be lacing up their skates in 2022-23. That and a whole lot more as we start another campaign of recapping and analyzing the top performances of prospects throughout the Canucks pipeline.
2022 World Juniors Recap
Jacob Truscott – Team USA
One of the only later-round draft picks to be named to Team USA’s roster for the 2022 World Juniors, Truscott quietly played a sound two-way game from the back end, logging an average of 13:54 in ice time mostly with Wyatt Kaiser on the second pairing.
Unfortunately, Truscott and his team could not get by the plucky Czechs as they got eliminated after a 4-2 loss in the quarterfinal round. He will now go home and get ready for the 2022-23 season which will see him play his junior year with the Wolverines and hopefully earn a contract with the Canucks as soon as next offseason. All in all, despite the disappointment of walking away from the tournament without a medal, he should hold his head high as the WJC capped off a nice season for him where he recorded 17 points in 40 games along with a blue line-leading plus/minus of plus-28.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki – Team Sweden
Unfairly expected by your’s truly to play a significant role on Team Sweden for the rescheduled tournament, Lekkerimaki was largely invisible playing on a third line with Liam Ohgren and Ake Stakkestad. He showed some flashes of his speed and tremendous shot but only could muster three assists in seven games. He also was given limited ice time by head coach Tomas Monten, eclipsing the 12-minute mark only once. By the time the bronze medal match came, he was benched for large parts of the game, finishing with a paltry 6:11. With all that said, there might have been a reason for it as it was recently reported by Rick Dhaliwal that he was still battling the aftereffects of mono and that “the decision to play at the worlds was a late decision.”
With that said, Canucks fans should not be hitting the panic button on their latest blue-chip prospect. In addition to the fact that he was not 100 percent, traditionally, 18-year-olds do not dominate this tournament – unless you’re Connor McDavid. If you need an example, look at who finished as the MVP this year, Mason McTavish, who is five months away from turning 20. Lekkerimaki has got a ton of potential and his time will come to shine for the blue and gold at the WJC. Considering he led his team to a gold medal at the U18s just a few months ago, I wouldn’t bet against him doing something similar in the future after more experience, physical development – and of course, not battling the aftermath of a virus.
Joni Jurmo – Team Finland
Definitely the most impressive of the three prospects that represented the Canucks at the 2022 WJC, Jurmo, despite only recording one assist in seven games, was flying all tournament long showcasing exactly why he was drafted in the first place. His smooth skating and ability to move the puck crisply through the neutral zone at 6-foot-4 is something the Canucks desperately need on their roster right now, and he could be close to providing it for them after his performance for the eventual silver medalists.
Now 20-years-old, and on the cusp of breaking into the pro leagues in North America, Jurmo saw his ice time gradually increase as the tournament went along. From 10:30 in his first game against Latvia to 17:09 against Germany and 16:34 in the gold medal game, head coach Antti Pennanen started to become more confident to throw him out there in more situations. That was good news for the Canucks and their scouts as they got to see more of him and his burgeoning toolbox of skating and passing that appears to be ready for the modern NHL. If all goes according to plan, he will be starring in the American Hockey League (AHL) sooner rather than later.
Lockhart Dealt to the Peterborough Petes
Turning to some news away from the World Juniors, Connor Lockhart, who was selected 178th overall by the Canucks at the 2021 Draft, was traded to the Peterborough Petes for Sam Alfano and a couple of draft picks in a deal at the beginning of August. The 5-foot-9 pivot had a banner 2021-22 season for the Erie Otters, scoring a career-high 23 goals and 48 points in 64 games after missing the entire 2020-21 campaign due to COVID.
Now on a markedly better team in Peterborough, Lockhart will get the chance to compete for a playoff spot and potentially play in the postseason for the first time since 2018-19 when he scored two goals in five games playing for the Kanata Lasers in the CCHL. He showed tremendous potential in his draft-plus-one season, showcasing his speed, tenacity and offensive creativity, so it will be interesting to see what he can do on a better team in 2022-23.
Forsell & Myrenberg: 2023 WJC-Bound?
Speaking of great seasons, Forsell and Jonathan Myrenberg both increased their stock in the Canucks’ pipeline by having productive 2021-22 campaigns in the J20 Nationell with Farjestad BK and Linkoping HC respectively. Now moving to different leagues in 2022-23, they will be hoping to continue catching the eyes of their nation as the 2023 WJC is just around the corner. With both having been invited to Sweden’s evaluation camp in July, they have as good of a chance as anyone to make the team. Sure, Sweden won a bronze medal at the summer-time 2022 WJC, but I’m sure they are not happy with that result. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried some new blood in an attempt to win a gold medal that has alluded them since 2012.
If Forsell and Myrenberg can continue their production from the 2021-22 season early into 2022-23, Sweden might just be impressed enough to put one or both of them on the final roster. I am banking more on Myrenberg because of his mobility and shot from the blue line and the fact that Emil Andrae, Helge Grans, Leo Lööf, William Wallinder and Måns Forsfjäll won’t be eligible for the 2023 tournament. Also, there is a distinct possibility that Simon Edvinsson will be playing for the Detroit Red Wings at the time as well. Basically, the defence will have plenty of spots up for grabs. It will be Myrenberg’s job to make sure one of them is his with his play early on.
Canucks Prospect Tracker (2022-23 Season)
It’s always difficult to keep track of where all the prospects are playing especially after the offseason. Well, I’ve got you covered with the 2022-23 Canucks Prospect Tracker. Here is a list of all the prospects playing everywhere except for the AHL and NHL.
|Prince George Cougars
|University of Michigan
|University of North Dakota
|University of Minnesota-Duluth