Max Namestnikov among guests at Canucks development camp


Getting to know the unsigned, unsigned attackers in the Canucks camp.

The invitees are back.

There will be 36 prospects at the Vancouver Canucks development camp, which runs Monday through Thursday at UBC this week. That includes five of the six Canucks rosters for 2022 – Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Elias Pettersson (the younger), Daimon Gardner, Ty Young and Jackson Dorrington – with seventh-round Kirill Kudryavtsev not on the roster.

In addition to the prospects that are already in the Canucks system, both old and new, there will be several players who are not part of one’s system. These players have been invited to join the camp and hope to impress the management of the Canucks enough to earn an NHL contract in the future.

There will be 12 invitees at the development camp this year, but that will include five players who have already signed AHL contracts with the Abbotsford Canucks. Four of those invitees are from the NCAA and it’s worth keeping a close eye on as Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin repeatedly emphasize the importance of increasing their depth with free agent signings.

It’s a big change from previous years – even before the COVID-19 pandemic limited the ability to bring in outside players, the Canucks had brought in a declining number of invitees, with no invitees in their pre-season prospect camp 2019-20 .

Canucks 2022 Development Camp Invitees

forward

  • Marc Gatcomb – 22 – Right Wing – University of Connecticut, NCAA
  • Jack Jensen – 21 – Left Wing – Arizona State, NCAA
  • Ian Murphy – 23 – Right – Princeton, NCAA
  • Max Namestnikov – 18 – Center – Sarnia Sting, OHL
  • Tristen Nielsen – 22 – Center – Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Chase Wouters – 22 – Center – Abbotsford Canucks, AHL

Defense

  • Jacob Bauer – 20 – Right Defense – Western Michigan, NCAA
  • Alex Kannok Leipert – 21 – Right Defense – Abbotsford Canucks, AHL
  • Chad Nychuk – 21 – Left Defense – Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL
  • Quinn Schmiemann – 20 – Left Defense – Kamloops Blazers, WHL

goalkeepers

  • Brett Brochu – 19 – Goaltender – London Knights, OHL
  • Samuel Richard – 21 – Goalkeeper – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL

These invitees are some of the most intriguing players on camp, as they all represent the potential to find an NHL player without spending any resources other than an entry-level contract.

It’s also an opportunity to build a relationship with players who may be worth signing up for in the future, especially NCAA players, who may end up spending several more years in college hockey. For example, Troy Stecher was an invitee to camp in 2014 and eventually signed with the Canucks in 2016.

Could one of this year’s invitees be the next Stecher? Let’s take a closer look, starting with the forwards. I will cover the defenders and goalkeepers in a future article.

Marc Gatcomb – Right Wing

6’2” – 194 lbs – Jul 22, 1999 (22)
Woburn, Massachusetts, USA
University of Connecticut, NCAA (36-8-13-21)

Marc Gatcomb is a great forward who can play on both wings with a reputation for strong defensive play. He signed with the Abbotsford Canucks late last season, played in six AHL games and will try to work his way up to an NHL deal.

Gatcomb had 8 goals and 21 points in 36 games in his Senior year, but it’s his two-way physical play that drew him the most attention. With some decent wheels to match his size, Gatcomb can put down some big hits and is adept at fighting down the boards.

It should be noted that Gatcomb did most of his scoring on equal footing, with only a single power play assistant. Gatcomb has pretty good hands and can finish around the net.

Gatcomb failed to score points in his six-game audition in the AHL and was a healthy scratch in the playoffs, but will have a chance to earn a bottom six spot at Abbotsford next season.

Jack Jensen – Left Winger

6’2” – 205 lbs – Aug 31, 2000 (21)
Eden Prairie, MIN, USA
State of Arizona, NCAA (32-6-8-14)

At 21, Jack Jensen was on the older side of freshmen last season. The bulky winger had 6 goals and 14 points in 32 games with the Sun Devils in his first NCAA season.

Jensen’s combination of size and skating makes him an intriguing prospect despite his limited score, with the potential for him to play a part in the bottom six.

“Jensen is a fantastic all-round skater”, reads his Hockey Prospect scouting report from his draft year. “He has excellent explosiveness in the hops and is able to take the lead over defenders almost at will.”

Size and speed have been the foundation for many a bottom six attacker. Jensen was considered a good prospect ahead of his draft year even as he represented Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 tournament. Maybe it helped that he aligned with Casey Mittelstadt in high school.

Since then, Jensen has been hesitant as a prospect, but there’s still a chance that his strong 200-foot play will take him to the next level, especially if he can find a part in special teams.

“His speed is a threat at the top of the penalty kill, where he can read the game to break passes and use his speed to get loose pucks behind the power play,” says Hockey Prospects.

Ian Murphy – Right

5’11” – 185 lbs – Apr 6, 1999 (23)
Braintree, MA, USA
Princeton University, NCAA (09/25/19)

Already 23, Ian Murphy will be one of the oldest players in the Canucks’ development camp, but he has slowly but surely worked his way up the hockey world.

Murphy was teammates with Canuck’s prospect Jack Rathbone at Dexter Southfield School for two years and retweets of Rathbone’s exploits are a regular feature on Murphy’s Twitter page, so it’s understandable that he would be interested in the Canucks. It’s what he’s done over the years that would make the Canucks interested in him.

A few years ago, Murphy considered going to Division 3 college hockey because he was unable to arouse the interest of a Division 1 school. Instead, he postponed entering college hockey, instead playing in the USHL for two years and earning a spot at Princeton University.

Sadly, his first season at Princeton was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he was one of Princeton’s top players last season, scoring 19 points in 25 games, behind only Corey Andonovski, who was subsequently signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. .

To go from not even making an NCAA team to a second-place finish on an Ivy League roster in scoring to an NHL camp is quite a journey for Murphy.

“Ian brings elite speed and a high level of skill to our team,” said Anthony Noreen, his former USHL head coach. “He’s been able to score goals, help us pick up the pace in games and add character to our organization through the way he played himself.”

Murphy played both sides of special teams for Princeton, killing penalties with his speed and clever positioning, and playing the bumper on the power play. There’s a bit of spice to his game and he doesn’t hesitate to crash the net for rebounds.

Who knows – maybe one day he’ll become a Rathbone teammate again.

Max Namestnikov – Center

5’8” – 174 lbs – Feb 6, 2004 (18)
Royal Oak, MI, USA
Sarnia Sting, OHL (68-16-24-40)

Unlike most of the other invitees, Max Namestnikov was actually in his draft year last season. Namestnikov even landed in the NHL Central Scouting final ranking, albeit 211th overall among North American skaters.

The 18-year-old had a strong season on Sarnia’s second line in the OHL, scoring 16 goals and 40 points in 68 games. That type of production would have gotten him some attention as a late-round pick were it not for his 5’8″ stature.

“He’s a player who likes to make quick passes through opponents and put his teammates up front,” said FChockey’s Olivia McArter. “He has fast feet when he challenges his opponent, moving his feet with every movement of the stick to make sure he stays with his man and shows his fast edges as he follows into the corner.”

Namestnikov, despite his short stature, has strong forward tendencies, he’s not afraid to play the body even on much bigger players, and uses his strength and low leverage to knock opponents out of line to win puck fights. He has fast feet and fast hands, making him dangerous in transition and around the net.

Aside from his size, the other problem for Namestnikov was a lack of consistency. He could explode one night with a striking attack and then disappear for a long time. It doesn’t help that he lost a year of development when the OHL canceled the 2020-21 season.

Namestnikov is the younger brother of veteran NHL forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who is four inches taller than Max. There may be a late growth spurt on the way. Even if he doesn’t, Namestnikov could still develop into a dynamic prospect in the coming years.

Tristen Nielsen – Center

5’10” – 192 lbs – Feb 23, 2000 (22)
Fort St John, BC, Canada
Abbotsford Canucks, AHL (41-7-4-11)

Tristen Nielsen still qualifies as an invitee even though he has already played for the Abbotsford Canucks for one season, as he only has one AHL contract. Still, the players who have been with the Canucks for a year are a little different from the other invitees.

Nielsen played a somewhat limited role for the Canucks last season and was mainly used on the wing despite being a natural center. He has good pace, decent defensive play and can kill penalties, although he wasn’t always used in that role.

“For whatever reason, despite evidence of good foot speed, a nose for the net, ability to take penalties and a fast pace of work, Tristen Nielsen struggled to gain Trent Cull’s confidence to secure a spot in the lineup of Abbotsford,” said CanucksArmy’s Cody Severtson.

With decent hands and an accurate shot, it’s possible Nielsen could work his way up to a more offensive role under new head coach Jeremy Colliton in the coming season.

Chase Wouters – Center

6’0” – 194 lbs – Feb 8, 2000 (22)
North Battleford, SK, Canada
Abbotsford Canucks, AHL (60-5-13-18)

Chase Wouters was the first player ever signed to the Abbotsford Canucks and he impressed enough in his first year at Abbotsford to earn a two-year contract extension.

Although Wouters didn’t score consistently in the AHL, he became a trusted defensive presence, a go-to penalty killer, and became a fan favorite.

“As the top man of the Canucks’ PK, Wouters’ was beloved by the Abbotsford faithful as a relentless disruptive force along the perimeter,” Severtson said. “His pace of work earned him the majority of fans for the team’s Unsung Hero Award.”

With his defensive play, quickness and a decent scoring opportunity when the opportunity presents itself, Wouters may have a future in the NHL as a bottom six forward. He is one to watch.

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