Three exciting 1v1 fights to watch at Canucks Training Camp 2022

Of all the major sports, hockey is probably the sport the least It is based on individual competition. Shootouts aside, Puck-and-Stick only breaks down briefly to 1v1 mode, and these situations rarely have really long-term consequences.

But training camp is an exception to this rule.

At the start of each season, across 32 NHL franchises, jobs are at stake. Roles win and lose. And while teams love to compete around the wide-open competition, every job ultimately inevitably comes down to two finalists. That’s when 1v1 competitions really get in the way – and these are competitions between potential teammates, no less.

Sometimes, these deep duels develop over the course of a hard-earned killer camp. Other times, the stakes are fairly obvious from the start, and players benefit from coming to training camp knowing who they’re really up against.

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Below, we’ll examine three 1v1 roster fights that look guaranteed to break out as the 2022 Vancouver Canucks training camp kicks off, each of which can be seen as high stakes for the players involved – and high drama for fans watching and waiting for the opening night.

Disclaimer: We understand that there is absolutely nothing in black and white hockey and that we may be oversimplifying things a bit narrowing down the scope of these fights. We also realize that a lot can happen to the crew between now and opening night; Including hits, deals, orders, and maybe a waiver or two that promises to be a bumper crop. For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming the Canucks skate in the 2022/23 season more or less the same.

Yes, we go into the emotional jugular right away.

There are a lot of similarities between Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander. Born within six months of each other and booked by Y2K Panic, both players were drafted into the 2019 NHL’s entry draft and both enjoyed success as rookies with the Canucks.

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Both are capable of playing in either wing, and each is signed to a contract of just under $1 million (with performance bonuses).

But Höglander debuted a year ago, which means he’s already gone through the dreaded sophomore slump. That leaves him playing catch-up in what promises to be a fairly straightforward competition at training camp between the two young talents in Vancouver.

The Canucks front corps is simply overcrowded, and there isn’t enough room in the top nine for everyone who deserves to be there. One can safely consider Elias Peterson, J.T. Miller, Beau Hurvat, Brooke Bowser, and Conor Garland as fixed locks. The next Ilya Mikheev also secured ninth place, and the same can probably be said about Andrei Kuzmenko, who will be given every chance of success.

Then there’s Tanner Pearson who – although he may not be as flashy and sexy as some of the other options – is too reliable to be given too much responsibility and icy time. If you’re healthy and unranked, expect Pearson to enter the top nine more often.

For those of you who don’t score at home, there are already eight players out there. That leaves one opening night spot top nine for one Podkolzen and Hoglander – and fourth-line assignments for the other.

As of now, this might look like a one-horse race. While Podkolzin only became more impressive as the junior season dragged on, Höglander struggled to maintain his place in the squad as a sophomore, and clearly did not connect well with coach Bruce Boudreau.

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Podkolzin finished 2021/22 in a lot of top six players. Höglander finished the season on IR, out of sight and out of mind.

But Höglander has been counted before, and he has beaten the odds. He climbed the lead ratings in his 1-year draft, then got into his first bootcamp with the Canucks and stole a job, somewhat unexpectedly. He’s still loaded with skills that are especially valuable in the modern game – puck possession, two-way perception, creativity – and those skills haven’t gone anywhere, despite his second season back in gear.

After a summer of recovery and rehabilitation, anticipate Höglander entering the 2022 training camp with motivation. And if he does, however, it gives Podkolzin a very real run for his money as the Knight in a position in the Canucks depth chart.

You probably don’t quite vibrate that way. Maybe someone gets hurt, or someone else slips off the chart unexpectedly, and Höglander and Podkolzin both finish on their first nine opening night. Heck, they might end up as buddies. But either way, one will leave training camp with more Boudreau confidence than the other – and the competition for that confidence begins now.

Potential vs. Veteran.

potential versus experience.

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Skill vs Diversity.

All this classic hockey debate defines the next fight between Jack Rathbone and Travis Dermott.

The Canucks clearly want Rathbone on their roster after tore up the AHL as a rookie pro last year. But in reality, finding a place for himself in the squad will still be a challenge, and that challenge starts with Dermot.

There is a chance, of course, that the trial involving Quinn Hughes on the right side will be a success, and that the Canucks will move into the 2022/23 season with the left side of both Rathbone and Dermott lining up behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But until that actually happens, Hughes and OEL will still likely stay on the left, leaving only one spot.

Dermot brings a lot to the table. He’s a smooth skater (although not as smooth as Rathbone), with solid offensive vision (though not as solid as Rathbone), and decent transition ability (although not as decent as Rathbone). Where it actually beats Rathbone in experience – something we know Boudreau values ​​- is at this point anyway, in the specialty area. Although far from a closing bolt, Dermott has always been good at defending against good competition, and he has some special skills that stand out, such as his uncanny ability to constantly differentiate between two people by extending his falling stick.

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Neither player is likely to skate much on a power game, at least not at first. This means that they will compete for a job based on the merits of their 5v5 play, and possibly on their ability to take penalty kicks.

In terms of who will make an impact on the ice at training camp, it’s hard not to give preference to Rathbone, who is one of the most skilled defenders in the entire Canucks system. But skill alone is not enough to earn a place in Boudreau’s squad. The versatility of the Dermott brand will go a very long way, as does the knowledge that it has been here before.

Speaking of this versatility, it gives Dermott another step over Rathbone. If Rathbone isn’t in the opening night squad, he’s likely on his way to Abbotsford. However, if the opposite is true, Dermott has the ability to play the other side, so there is another path available for him to sneak into the lineup.

On the right side, he will face more intense competition from four veteran RHD patients.

On that note…

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Let’s put those emotional risks back to the maximum value.

There may be no player on Vancouver’s roster more universally loved than Luke Sheen. The 32-year-old played the best hockey game of his career with the Canucks in two stints, and no partner has ever made Queen Hughes look more comfortable.

The notion that Schenn might end up on the outside of Canucks’ 2022/23 lineup you’re looking at seems, and should, seem illogical to someone reading it now.

however…

Tucker Pullman appears to be in good health as he enters training camp. As his salary and tenure indicate, he started last season ranking above Shane on the Vancouver Depth chart. He will not willingly give up this position, but will fight for it – and the stakes may be greater than most people realize.

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Meanwhile, Shane has been playing over his head for a while now, and he’s three years older than Pullman. With Pullman back in gear, Shane could easily stumble.

Tyler Myers is what he is, and at this point, the best right-hander in the Canucks. It will enter somewhere in the top four.

Hence, the RHD function in the top four is up to Schenn versus Poolman. If this job ends up mating Hughes, the edge obviously belongs to Shane, but it’s not a slam dunk. Poolman has been signed on as a potential partner for Hughes, after all, and if he can recover at all after a difficult starting season with the Canucks, there is still a chance for him to claim that spot.

Then there is the possibility that the number of RHD functions will diminish.

As mentioned earlier, Hughes is trying out the right side during training camp. If he sticks it, the center of the top four on the right side disappears… And suddenly, Shane and Pullman are vying for the bottom pairing job, while the other heads straight to the press square.

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The same is true if the Canucks pick up any of the many talented RHDs promising to hit the waiver wire between now and opening night, or if they manage to trade one.

Either way, Shane and Pullman are in direct competition. The only thing left to determine is whether this competition is for the top four or if it is entirely for a place in the opening night squad.

The potential for boot camp – and controversy – is clear.