It’s the latest edition of the weekly tracker, where we tally up the efforts of the Vancouver Canucks’ highest-profile prospects:

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It’s the latest edition of the weekly tracker, where we tally up the efforts of the Vancouver Canucks’ highest-profile prospects:

Jack Rathbone

It’s rare for a prospect to step onto the scene and completely change the game.

Even rarer still when that prospect comes from the blue line.

Enter Jack Rathbone.

Transported from taxi squad purgatory to the AHL ice sheet, the 21-year-old defenceman came out gunning this past weekend for the Utica Comets, collecting four assists in his first two professional games while giving Canucks fans a glimpse of what could be a future foundational piece to the team’s back end.

Rathbone, a steal of a fourth-round pick in 2017, made an immediate impact in a 7-2 rout of the Rochester Americans on Friday night. Just a few minutes in, the left-shot D-man used his stocky 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame to separate a player from the puck in the neutral zone, then helped finish the sequence with a well-placed shot, resulting in a rebound goal for teammate John Stevens.

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Rathbone showed off more defensive acumen a couple minutes later, picking off a pass in the neutral zone and creating a scoring chance for himself while surrounded by four Rochester players.

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Rathbone notched his second assist on a power play late in the third period, then got his third after creating some space for himself with a fake shot and firing the puck on net, which was deposited in by a teammate on the rebound.

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All-in-all, he had three assists, three shots on net, a plus-3 rating and the third star of the game — not bad for his pro debut.

“I was a kid in a candy store,” Rathbone told reporters post-game. “I got to come to the rink with a smile on my face and work hard.”

Rathbone was just as good the next night in a 4-2 win in Syracuse, notching another assist, a plus-1 rating and getting two more shots on net.

Comets head coach Trent Cull praised the prospect after Friday’s game, saying Rathbone “walks the blue line better than any (defenceman) I’ve seen in this league.”

On Saturday, Cull could barely contain his enthusiasm during a first period intermission interview on 94.9 KROCK, the radio home of the Comets.

“He’s a very promising young guy, it’s very exciting to coach a guy like that,” Cull said. “His hockey IQ is very high … it won’t take much to get him acclimated.”

Rathbone’s offensive game has been something to marvel at for some time — he’s got some serious snap to his passes, pop to his shot and he’s as fleet-footed as they come.

But it’s the progression of his defensive game that could make him a mainstay on the Canucks’ blue-line for years to come.

Jack Rathbone (3) in action with Travis Green during Vancouver Canucks training camp at Roger Arena in Vancouver, B.C.., on January 12, 2021.
Jack Rathbone (3) in action with Travis Green during Vancouver Canucks training camp at Roger Arena in Vancouver, B.C.., on January 12, 2021. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

The work Rathbone’s put in with the Canucks’ coaching staff at camp and while on the taxi squad appears to be paying off, after reports out of camp suggested he had room to improve playing without the puck.

His emergence has elevated the play of fellow Canucks prospect Jett Woo (2018, Rd. 2), who had two strong games partnered with the Massachusetts native.

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Woo, 20, had five shots on net and a plus-3 rating on Friday, while going a plus-1 on Saturday. The 6-foot, 205-pound right-shot D-man appears to be a good fit with Rathbone, who can wheel-and-deal while Woo — who leads the team with a plus-5 rating — plays a more conservative role.

Woo even came to Rathbone’s defence on Friday night, giving an Americans forward a few parting shots after his partner was levelled by a hit behind the net.

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However long Rathbone sticks in Utica is anyone’s guess, though it would serve him well to spend the rest of the season there and continue to eat up minutes while playing in all situations.

The Comets are tops in the North Division with a 5-1-0-1 record and play their next game in Rochester on Wednesday.


Nikita Tryamkin
Nikita Tryamkin Photo by KHL /Twitter

Nikita Tryamkin

With his KHL days most likely numbered, Tryamkin is playing for the job he wants, not the job he has.

The big Russian defenceman had a monster game for Avtomobilist in Thursday’s 3-0 win against Sochi, assisting twice, taking two shots on net and was on the ice for all three goals scored in 17:06 of ice time.

Tryamkin didn’t put up any points in Saturday’s 4-0 season-finale loss at Sibir, but was noticeable throughout the game. The 6-foot-8, 254-pound left-shot D-man was involved offensively, getting his point shots on goal and, at one point in the first period, diving and poking the puck towards the net for a scoring chance.

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Later in the game, Tryamkin had a point shot deflected off the post by teammate and hockey immortal, Pavel Datsyuk.

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Tryamkin had six shots on net, one hit, one blocked shot and an even rating in the loss.

At 26 years old and with his KHL contract expiring at the end of the season, the coming Gagarin Cup playoffs could be Tryamkin’s last chance to showcase how far his game has come since skating with the Canucks in the 2016-17 season. Canucks GM Jim Benning had a long look at the defenceman last off-season, but a cap crunch and COVID concerns kept the restricted free agent overseas.

Should the Canucks pass on signing Tryamkin this offseason, he’ll probably walk as an unrestricted free agent after next season.

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Coming off a solid regular season in which he played all 60 games, averaged over 20 minutes of ice time a night and was third in the league in blocked shots (122), the time may finally be right to bring Tryamkin back into the fold. His strong skating, penalty killing ability and menacing presence could help this team going forward.

He also has leadership qualities, serving as Avto’s captain for stretches of the season when Datsyuk went down to injury.

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And it wouldn’t hurt to have another Russian in the locker-room, with top prospect Vasili Podkolzin surely signing with the Canucks in the coming months.

As the seventh seed in the East, Avtomobilist will face Ilya Kovalchuk’s Avangard in the first round of playoffs beginning on Tuesday.

Tryamkin finishes the regular season with three goals, 12 assists, 53 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating in 60 games.


Vasili Podkolzin signs autographs after being selected tenth overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Vasili Podkolzin signs autographs after being selected tenth overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Rich Lam /PNG

Vasili Podkolzin

Back from a concussion, Podkolzin skated in SKA St. Petersburg’s season finale on Saturday, a 4-2 win over Dinamo Minsk.

The well-rounded 2019 first-rounder took a regular shift — playing for 13:08 in total — and had one hit and an even rating. He also had some time as the net-front presence on the second power play unit, which scored a goal with the 19-year-old on the ice.

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Podkolzin finishes a roller-coaster season with five goals, six assists and a plus-6 rating in 35 games played. He had gained some traction offensively before getting hurt a couple of weeks ago.

As the second seed in the West, SKA face seventh-seeded Dinamo Minsk in the first round of the playoffs, starting on Tuesday.

Podkolzin had one goal and two assists in four playoff games last season.


Utica Comets forward Jonah Gadjovich (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Laval Rocket in 2019.
Utica Comets forward Jonah Gadjovich (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Laval Rocket in 2019. Photo by Lindsay Mogle/Utica Comets /PNG

Jonah Gadjovich

He’s come a long way.

How far he goes is anyone’s guess — though he’ll probably end up in front of the net eventually.

Gadjovich continued his goal-scoring assault for the Comets, scoring his fifth and sixth of the young season this past week.

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound power forward broke a 2-2 tie against Rochester on Friday night, taking a pass at the top of the right faceoff circle and whipping a wrist shot past the goaltender.

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The 22-year-old scored his second on a play set up by the aforementioned Rathbone, who faked a shot and put the puck on net. Gadjovich, naturally, was there at the top of the crease to deposit the rebound.

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The Whitby, Ontario product was given first-star honours Friday for his two goal, one assist performance.

Gadjovich had no points in Saturday’s win, but had four shots on net and an even rating.

With six tallies on the season, Gadjovich is tied for second in the AHL in goals scored. He also has one assist and a plus-4 rating in seven games played.


Canucks prospect Kole Lind in action last season with the Utica Comets.
Canucks prospect Kole Lind in action last season with the Utica Comets. Photo by Utica Comets/Submitted /PNG

Kole Lind

Another Comet on the upswing, Lind scored his fifth goal of the season in Saturday’s win.

With Utica leading 1-0 in the first and on the power play, the 2017 second-rounder positioned himself in the high slot and deftly deflected the puck into the net.

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Lind, who continues to transition to the centre ice position, is improving in the faceoff circle and was even trusted to take two 5-on-3 draws in the offensive zone on Saturday night. He won the first, and was waved out for the second.

The 6-foot-1, 179-pounder was named the game’s third star with a goal and an assist, while putting four shots on net.

Lind, 22, has five goals, two assists and a minus-1 rating in seven games this season.


2020 Vancouver Canucks draft pick Joni Jurmo in action for JYP of the Finnish Liiga.
2020 Vancouver Canucks draft pick Joni Jurmo in action for JYP of the Finnish Liiga. Photo by Jiri Halttunen/JYP team photogra /jpg

Joni Jurmo

Funny what a little home cooking can do for a prospect hungry for some professional success.

The 18-year-old Jurmo, who languished for 20 games this season with a sub-par JYP side in the Finnish top-flight Liiga, was loaned to his hometown team in the second-tier Mestis league a couple weeks ago and the big, fast defenceman has made strides already.

Playing for Kiekko-Espoo, Jurmo scored his first professional goal in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Tuto — and added a second for good measure.

The 2020 third-rounder’s first goal came on a seeing-eye wrist shot from the point, which found the top corner of the net.

His second was something else, with the 6-foot-4, 198-pounder starting the scoring sequence behind his own net, playing a give-and-go with a teammate and eventually finishing with a wrist shot from the slot.

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Jurmo played for 14:57, had two shots on net and went a plus-1 in the win. He played in one other game this past week, a 2-1 loss to Peliitat on Friday in which the Espoo native had seven shots on goal and a plus-1 rating in 20:44 of ice time.

He has three points (2G, 1A) in four games in the Mestis league.

Elsewhere: Dark horse draft pick Dmitri Zlodeyev (2020, Rd. 7), who has been in and out of Dinamo Moscow’s lineup with injuries, appears to be done for the season. His VHL team is down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and there are no signs the 5-foot-11, 183-pound centre will return. Zlodeyev, 19, turned some heads this season with some sound two-way play and had seven goals in 19 games.

Meanwhile, big body forward Jackson Kunz (2020, Rd. 4) continues to put the puck into the net for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder scored a beauty in a 3-2 loss on Sunday to the Des Moines Buccaneers, picking up speed through the neutral zone and stickhandling his way through several players before deking to his forehand for the goal.

Kunz, 18, has 14 goals, nine assists and a plus-17 rating in 29 games this season.

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Kunz goal

mraptis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/mike_raptis

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