It’s time for another edition of the Vancouver Canucks prospects report. Highlights include William Lockwood’s goal-scoring exploits, Jonah Gadjovich’s continued dominance of the AHL and subsequent callup, and Lukas Jasek’s return to the goal column. We also got to see more production from Carson Focht and the return of starting goaltender Mikey DiPietro.
That and a whole lot more as we continue to recap and analyze the top performances of prospects throughout the Canucks pipeline.
Utica Comets Update
The Utica Comets had a relatively successful week, winning two out of the three games they played. Once again, they played the Syracuse Crunch twice, coming away with a split after a 2-1 overtime win on Wednesday and a 4-1 setback on Sunday. Sandwiched in between those two was a 7-1 dismantling of their rivals the Rochester Americans, where they saw dominant performances by Gadjovich, Focht and DiPietro.
With the announcement that the AHL would not be running a traditional playoff bracket, the Comets will just play out their season without the hopes of a trophy. The only team that will be walking away with anything will be the winners of the division, something the Hershey Bears have well in hand. They currently lead it with 42 points, which puts them 17 points ahead of the Comets with eight games remaining. Considering that winning every game will only get them to 41 points, those chances are gone already.
Gadjovich Called Up After Gordie Howe Hat Trick
Immediately following the Comets’ 2-1 overtime win where Gadjovich scored the overtime winner and had a Gordie Howe hat trick, he was deservedly called up to the Canucks. After 15 goals in 19 games, they finally are recognizing his dominance and giving him a chance to shine in the NHL. The 6-foot-2 forward from Whitby, Ontario has been manhandling almost every opponent since the start of the season, so it’s only fitting that he gets the chance to do it at the next level.
If Gadjovich can show that same type of game with the Canucks, it should go a long way to earning a spot on the coveted protected list for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. For a guy that was somewhat forgotten after a slow start to his professional career, you have to give him props for sticking with it and improving his game enough to start getting noticed.
Lockwood On a Roll
Since Lockwood scored his first professional goal, he’s been on a bit of a roll with three goals in his last five games. He only scored one of those this week, but it’s great to see his confidence growing. If he can continue to produce, he may follow Gadjovich to the NHL very soon. His style of play is tailor-made for the bottom-six as he combines speed, tenacity, and intense forechecking in a package that rivals the games of Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows before him. With the goal, he now has four goals and eight points in 21 games.
Focht Finding His Sea Legs
Coincidentally, the same time Lockwood found his offensive game, Focht found it as well. Since Apr 23, he has three goals and six points in five games, which includes his current three-game point streak where he has two goals and four points. He’s been one of the Comets’ best players in the last few games, which just adds to the budding talent the Canucks boast in their pipeline. Another member of the intriguing 2019 Draft class that includes Quinn Hughes, Nils Hoglander, Arvid Costmar, Jack Malone, and Aidan McDonough, Focht looks well on his way to a future in the NHL as a third or fourth-line center.
The former Calgary Hitmen product has four goals and 11 points in 21 games, which is good for eighth on the team. He is also only behind Gadjovich in shots with 43, if you don’t count veteran Sven Baertschi and St. Louis Blues’ prospects, Nolan Stevens and Sam Anas.
Jasek Continues to Produce
Jasek has probably been the most consistent point producer for the Comets this season, next to Gadjovich of course. He’s done it mostly with assists, but points are points after all and he’s been putting up a lot of them lately. This week alone, he recorded four points in four games and is now tied with Gadjovich and Anas for the team lead in points with 18 in 21 games.
Like Lockwood, Jasek is a tenacious forechecker, but he also adds a playmaking aspect to his game as well, which could come in handy at the NHL level. He’s also got speed galore, which again, reminds me of Hansen in his prime. If the Canucks are lucky, they may have two of those types of players in their bottom-six as soon as next season depending on how the offseason shakes out.
DiPietro Back in the Crease
After 415 days without an ounce of game action, DiPietro was back in the Comets’ crease this week. His first game was a barn burner where his team gave him seven goals of support, though he still had to make a few ten-bell saves which included an athletic stretch of the left pad and a swinging glove save, both early when the game was still in question. He also praised Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark for keeping him engaged and ready for game action whenever it eventually came time for it.
Being able to work with him every day was amazing, there’s no other way to put it…The knowledge that he has of the position, and the willingness to take my game and show me ways to improve it so that at the next level it can make the game come to me and slow the game down a bit. For him, he realizes that I’m not six foot five, and I need to play the game a different way. I think with a tandem like Ian Clark and Curtis Sanford here, they’ve really allowed my game to grow and blossom — it’s trending in a good direction.Mike DiPietro on his work with Ian Clark
Unfortunately, Clark’s future with the Canucks is in question as he approaches the end of his contract. After comments like this and the significant improvements we’ve seen in DiPietro, Thatcher Demko, Jacob Markstrom, and of course, the tremendous work he’s done with Roberto Luongo, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Cory Schneider, it would behoove them to get him re-signed sooner rather than later.
Comets’ Next Games: May 5/7/8 vs. Syracuse Crunch
Jackson Kunz – Green Bay Gamblers
After finishing his first full USHL season with 23 goals and 43 points in 50 games, the recent third star of the month for April saw his 2020-21 campaign come to an end with back-to-back losses to the Muskegon Lumberjacks on the weekend. He was blanked on the scoreboard in both games, as they were keenly aware of him every time he was on the ice. He will now get ready for his debut with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the Fall when he starts his freshman season in the NCAA.
That does it for another edition of the Canucks prospects report. Stay tuned for more next week as we continue to bring you all the updates from here and overseas!
All statistics were provided by Elite Prospects
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, editor, part-time journalist, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.