Who may surprise at Vancouver Canucks young guns tourney?

Which lesser-knowns will step up in Penticton?

We all know who the Bo Horvats and the Hunter Shinkaruks are by now, and what’s expected of them as top prospects.

Amongst the other players participating in this weekend’s Canucks tournament, let’s look at some lesser-known players who could surprise us:

Zach Hall (Fwd)

Zach Hall has a chance to step up.

Zach Hall has solid playmaking abilities and a history of success on the score sheet.

Zach Hall spent last season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, putting up very solid numbers — 24 goals, 81 points, 63 GP. He isn’t a big guy, listed at 5’11”, 172 lbs (although he’s listed at 185 lbs on Barrie’s website), but he has solid playmaking abilities and a history of success on the score sheet.

In 2011-12, Hall tallied 59 in 58 GP for Barrie. Looking even further back to 2009-10, he totaled 71 points in 44 GP as a 15/16 year-old rookie in the Ontario Jr. A league. Hall was un-drafted, but has the potential to turn heads and earn a contract with a strong camp.

Daniel Johnston (Def)

Daniel Johnston spent parts of five seasons in the WHL and provided decent point production from the back-end in the past two — 30 in 55 games in 2011-12 before registering 34 in 45 games last year. While his forte in pro hockey may not come as an offensive defenseman, he has the size (6’2, 211lbs)  and ability to make a jump to the next level.

Johnston wasn’t drafted, but he adds some grit to the aforementioned size/skill combo, noticeably putting up over a PIM per game over the past three seasons. In all, he could be a decent depth defenseman in the future.

Cain Franson (Fwd)

Cain Franson is another un-drafted camp invitee — starting to get the theme yet? Cain Franson proved he possesses the skill to be effective after putting up 29 goals and 54 points in 60 games for the Vancouver Giants. He also has good bloodlines working in his favor — his brother and former Giant Cody Franson had 29 points in 45 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.

The Canucks have yet to draft a local Giant forward, but may have found a diamond in the rough if Franson can prove his worth against the next level of competition.

Jesse Mychan (Fwd)

The Tri-City American graduate plays a solid all-around, two-way, power-forward game (couldn’t think of any more hyphinated words to use in the description). Jesse Mychan is known as a good teammate who will do anything that’s asked of him to help his team win. A tough-guy to start his WHL career, he’s rounded his game into the power forward he is now, recording 19 goals and 42 points to go along with 111 PIMs last year.

At 6’2, 200lbs, he has the potential to become the ever-coveted power forward at the pro level. Oh, and yes, he’s also attending as an un-drafted player on invite.

David Pacan (Fwd)

David Pacan is another potential forward and likely direct competition to Mychan; albeit, with slightly more size and another year under his belt. David Pacan weighs in at 220lbs on his 6’4″ frame, and excelled at the first stop at the pro level with 52 points in 57 games for Cincinnati in the ECHL in 2012-13.

Joacim Eriksson developed into the top goaltender in Sweden last season.

Joacim Eriksson

It will likely be a competition between Mychan, Pacan, Adam De Champlain and Mitch Elliot to gain notoriety for their power game(s).

Joacim Eriksson (G), Henrik Tommernes (Def) and the other Swedes

I grouped Joacim Eriksson and Henrik Tommernes together because they both have similar qualities even though they play completely different positions. Both players played in the SEL last season with success, both are 1990 birthdates and both were 7th round draft picks (although Eriksson was drafted by Philly).

Eriksson developed into the top goaltender in Sweden last season, after posting 21 wins in 30 starts — including 5 shutouts — and maintaining a 1.67 GAA. He will be in direct competition with another Swede, Eddie Lack, for the backup role in Vancouver this year.

Tommernes is a slightly undersized defenseman, but managed 16 points in 54 games in Sweden’s top league against much more developed players.  If Tommernes can add some bulk to his current 6’0, 176 lbs frame, he could become a valuable depth defenseman down the road.

We all know the success the Canucks have had with developing Swedish players, even ones who weren’t high picks (see: Edler, Alex). Let’s hope these two, along with the numerous others at camp, can continue the trend.

While anyone could realistically have a strong showing and garner attention from the Canucks’ brass, the players above are my picks for the most likely to make an impression while not being regarded as a top prospect.


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About Alex McPhee

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