I headed to Canucks practice out at UBC yesterday and there was a lot to get excited about. Certain players looked good, others better, and there were certainly a few standouts.
There were a few Canucks skaters that were skating well. In particular it looks like Burrow’s off season ball hockey passion has kept him in stride as he looked comfortable out there. Hansen looked to be skating better than I’ve ever seen him. (and I promise there’s no bias in that statement.) Several Canucks looked to still be getting into stride including toothy grinned Willie Mitchell. He didnt look too smoooth on the ice having to double back in a few drills and even fell down a couple times – surprising to say the least. Samuelsson looked smooth out there and seemed to blend in well. He wasn’t out of place and seemed to be skating well alongside Kesler which suggests to me he’s going to start on the second line and they’re going to keep Burrows up with the Twins at least to start the season. Of note Wellwood looked terrible. I’m not sure if that’s just because he usually is a step or two behind but he looked slow, and in general just like he wasn’t trying.
Schneider looked a lot smaller than I thought he’d be, but he was skating hard and also didn’t seem to be out of place. One of the best looking Canucks out there was that machine they call Ryan Johnson. Johnson was skating well, he was stick handling well, and his shot even fooled Luongo a couple of times. Bieksa was skating and shooting well all practice but the same certainly can’t be said for Shane O’Brien.
In the prospects and old guys part of the practice none stood out more than Sergei Shirokov. The man is on a mission, he’s here to play, and he’s not here to get sent down. That was clear in the way he skated and did drills and he also wasn’t making the same rookie mistakes the other prospects were. Of the veterans invited to camp Mark Parrish looked great. He was explosive, he was skating better than any other player out there, and his stick handling left some of the youngsters spinning in circles.
Of the prospects none really stood out or did anything out of the ordinary. If anything there were a few too many mishandlings of the puck, and this made the veterans and players like Shirokov stand out even more. After a few early cuts to camp at the beginning of the day it’ll be exciting to see how the players handle game time over the next few days as the bubble players really fight for a spot.