Canucks Prospects Report: Klimovich, Karlsson, Truscott & More

As the 2023 World Junior Championship gets going in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, it’s time for the final Vancouver Canucks prospects report of 2022. The 2022-23 season is now three (or four depending on the league) months old and there have been plenty of impressive performances from several youngsters in the pipeline.

Vancouver Canucks Prospects Report

From Aidan McDonough and Connor Lockhart’s dominance in the NCAA and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) respectively to Danila Klimovich’s resurgence in the American Hockey League (AHL), let’s take a journey across North America for an update on all things Canucks prospects.

Abbotsford Canucks Update

Linus Karlsson

Arguably the Canucks’ second-best forward prospect next to Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Linus Karlsson, has turned heads early on in the AHL with eight goals and 21 points in 27 games. On pace for 21 goals and 56 points, that would be his best season in any league – even the 2021-22 rookie campaign that won him the Swedish Hockey League (SHL)’s Rookie of the Year award.

Related: 3 Canucks Prospects Who Need To Have an Impact in the Next 5 Years

Latest News & Highlights

Acclimating well to the AHL so far, Karlsson has shown off his creativity, intense forechecking, and solid two-way game as he sits two points behind Sammy Walker (who is in the NHL right now) for the rookie points lead. For a prospect that many people were starting to write off as a bust, he has become a valuable asset to the Canucks’ organization. After a strong training camp and now an impressive start to his first pro season, it’s only a matter of time before fans see him in the Orca full-time – or at the very least called up for a cup of coffee.

Danila Klimovich

After an underwhelming rookie season where he put up only eight goals and 18 points in 68 games, Klimovich has somewhat found his footing in his sophomore campaign. While there was some concern around Canucks Nation when he was a healthy scratch three times early on, his agent Dan Milstein quelled those concerns by assuring everyone that “communication between he and the Canucks is good and that a clear development plan has been communicated by the team.”

Danila Klimovich Vancouver Canucks
Danila Klimovich, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Well, it appears so far that the plan has worked as Klimovich has responded to those healthy scratches by putting up seven points (3G, 4A) in his last ten games. He has also displayed a stronger work ethic and attention to detail in his own zone, two things he’s struggled with in the past. If he can continue rounding out his defensive game, he’s going to be a handful in the NHL one day.

Will Lockwood

Will Lockwood was penciled onto the fourth line by yours truly at the beginning of the season, but Nils Aman’s consistent performance so far has kept him in the AHL. He hasn’t let that get him down though, as he has already eclipsed his goal total from last season and now has a career-high 12 goals in 24 games. With any luck, he will still turn into a Jannik Hansen-type forward in the NHL, capable of creating energy whenever it’s needed.

Jack Rathbone

After being stapled to a chair in the press box in Vancouver, Jack Rathbone has five points in eight games since returning to Abbotsford. Still finding his way defensively, it remains to be seen what his future will be in the Canucks’ organization. Could he be trade bait in the upcoming rebuild/retool?

Ontario Hockey League Update

Connor Lockhart, Peterborough Petes

Connor Lockhart has been a monster this season for the Peterborough Petes. Selected 178th overall by the Canucks in the 2021 Draft, he has emerged as a potential late-round gem. With nine goals and 33 points in 29 games, he sits third in points behind Tucker Robertson and new teammate Brennan Othmann, and is on pace for 75 points – a full 27 more than last season.

Connor Lockhart Peterborough Petes
Connor Lockhart, Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

While he’s slowed down a little since his torrid start, he still has eight points in his last 10 games and six in his last five. He also just recorded his first-career four-assist night on Dec. 15 against the 2021-22 OHL Champion Hamilton Bulldogs, in an 8-2 win no less. Suffice it to say, he will be one to watch as his Petes try to return to the playoffs in 2023.

Kirill Kudryavtsev, Soo Greyhounds

Another potential steal out of the OHL for the Canucks is defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev. Drafted with their final pick in the 2022 Draft (208th overall), he has started off strong in his sophomore season with the Soo Greyhounds. With four goals and 23 points in 30 games, he is on pace for 51 points after a strong rookie campaign where he recorded 39 points in 68 games.

Kirill Kudryavtsev Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
Kirill Kudryavtsev, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Like Lockhart, Kudryavtsev will be an intriguing prospect to watch as his playing style and two-way nature is seemingly perfect for the modern NHL. Despite being a left-hand shot – and a seventh-round pick – he could turn out to be a key player on the Canucks’ blue line in the future.

NCAA & USHL Update

Aidan McDonough, Northeastern University

Joining Lockhart in the dominant season club is McDonough, who is currently on a 10-game run of seven goals and 15 points. After a 25-goal campaign in 2021-22, the newly-minted captain of the Northeastern Huskies is on pace to shatter that total this season and could even be in the running for the Hobey Baker Award. As of this writing, he is 10th in the NCAA in scoring with 23 points in 17 games and is within striking distance of first-round picks Logan Cooley (25 points) and Jimmy Snuggerud (27 points).

While McDonough probably won’t hit the ceiling of Cooley and Snuggerud, he could still become a consistent 20-goal scorer and power play specialist in the NHL one day. His patented one-timer from the right side is well-known in the NCAA and could become the same with the Canucks next season (probably in the AHL to start). Nevertheless, he is having an impressive senior year at Northeastern, something he hopes will translate to an NCAA championship later in 2023.

Jacob Truscott, University of Michigan

Despite being surrounded by first-round picks in Luke Hughes, Rutger McGroarty, and Mackie Samoskevich, not to mention projected 2023 top-three pick Adam Fantilli, 2020 sixth-rounder Jacob Truscott is regarded as a key player for the Michigan Wolverines. Playing in all situations, the mobile junior (who wears an “A”) averages over 20 minutes of ice time a night and has continued his two-way dominance from last season with a plus-6 in the plus/minus column after finishing with a plus-28 in 2021-22.

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I don’t think anyone expects Truscott to turn into the next Chris Tanev or Luke Schenn and perfectly pair with former Wolverine Quinn Hughes in the NHL. However, you might be surprised considering his success with Quinn’s younger brother Luke. Despite being a left-hand shot, he has complemented Luke’s game and has earned the trust of his head coach Brandon Naurato.

“He just does everything right,” Naurato said. “He’s defense first and there’s way more offense in him. … He’s gonna play this game for a long time because of what he does without the puck, but he’s showing people that he can play with it, too” (from ‘Truscott’s do-it-all play boosts Michigan to victory’, The Michigan Daily, 10/22/22).

Like Tanev and Schenn, Truscott just goes out there and quietly does his job defensively, which allows the more offensively-minded defencemen like Quinn and Luke to do what they do best, score and create scoring chances. Surprisingly, he has done a bit of the latter himself this season with a goal and 11 points in 19 games. Who knows? He could eventually become someone like Marc-Edouard Vlasic instead.

Daimon Gardner, Tri-City Storm

Daimon Gardner, who was drafted 112th overall by the Canucks in the 2022 Draft, recently returned from an MCL injury and has hit the ground running with three goals and seven points in eight games with the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League (USHL). The big 6-foot-4 center was initially expected to join the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) but will finish his junior career in the USHL before debuting with Clarkson University in 2023-24.

Related: 3 Canucks Prospects to Watch at 2023 World Juniors

That does it for another edition of the Canucks prospects report. Stay tuned for an overseas and 2023 World Juniors update next week as we continue to keep you up to date in the world of prospects throughout the 2022-23 season.