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NHL arbitration cases set to begin this week & looking ahead to World Jrs.

October 19, 2020, 12:46 PM ET [584 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The NHL's arbitration schedule continues to lighten.

Click here for the full list of players that filed for arbitration, and their hearing dates.

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk settled with Boston over the weekend, so there are now just two cases on the books for this week: Toronto's Ilya Mikheyev on Thursday and Ottawa's Connor Brown on Friday.

Vancouver's Jake Virtanen is set to have his hearing next week, on October 28. One-time Canuck Gustav Forsling, now in the Carolina organization, is set for November 2. The arbitration schedule is set to run through November 8.

Speaking of Forsling, the fanbase got all worked up when he was traded away by Jim Benning back in 2015. Granted, Adam Clendening didn't exactly turn out to be a difference-maker on the blue line, but those were the years when Benning and Trevor Linden made no bones about the fact that they were trying to acquire 23 to 25-year-olds who could plug lineup holes while the club drafted and developed its next generation of talent.

Clendening turns 28 next week and has managed a total of just 90 NHL games so far in his career — 17 of them with Vancouver. He did play seven playoff games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019, but then spent all of last season in the minors, with the Cleveland Monsters.

As for Forsling, the Canucks' fifth-round pick from 2014 is now 24 years old. He played a total of 122 NHL games with the Blackhawks after he was dealt away from Vancouver. But after being traded to the Hurricanes during the 2019 offseason, he also spent all of last season in the AHL, putting up 26 points in 57 games with the Charlotte Checkers.

Those aren't even close to Brogan Rafferty numbers — the Canucks' 25-year-old prospect had seven goals and 45 points in 57 games with the Utica Comets last season. Rafferty is also a righty — Vancouver's position of greater need, and he is still waiver exempt for another season, or 58 games played. Forsling requires waivers to be sent down to the AHL.

Speaking of Canucks prospects, I'm a bit concerned that Benning and company have not yet loaned any of their prospects to European teams to get them some playing time. To be fair, these placements are still happening: on Monday, Ottawa sent their Latvian forward prospect Rudolfs Balcers to a Norwegian team and over the weekend, Arizona assigned Barrett Hayton to Ilves of the Finnish Liiga.

Back in September, the L.A. Kings sent a group of top prospects that includes former Canucks pick Tyler Madden over to Berlin of the German league — which hasn't started play yet, but at least gives the kids an opportunity to practice.

I'd like to see similar opportunities, where possible, for Canucks prospects — especially the players like Rafferty, Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield who are expected to compete for big-league jobs once the NHL does get going.

And have you noticed that there's now starting to be more chatter about a start date in February instead of January, and perhaps a 48-game season? With Monday's announcement that the Canada/U.S. border is staying closed for at least another month and Covid case numbers continuing to rise across most of the world, it certainly doesn't seem like we're closer to getting fans in the stands and opening up that highly appealing revenue stream anytime soon.

As things stand, the next hockey of significance that we'll probably see is the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, at Christmastime.

The IIHF announced in September that it does plan to go ahead with the tournament, but will hold the full event inside the now-proven bubble in Edmonton, without fans, rather than going with their original plan of hosting in both Edmonton and Red Deer.

Because of that change, the revised schedule has not yet been announced. On the "Ray and Dregs Podcast" last week, Ray Ferraro said he's making plans to go into the bubble in Edmonton on Dec. 15, in his usual role as TSN's colour commentator for the tournament, alongside play-by-play man Gord Miller.

Team USA wrapped up its evaluation camp last week in Plymouth, Michigan. Hockey Canada invited these 41 players to its virtual summer camp.

One thing is set. Just after the draft, Hockey Canada unveiled a new jersey that will be worn at World Juniors and other tournaments for the rest of this year.

I like it. The touch on the sleeve takes me back to those great sweaters from the 1972 Summit Series.

Canucks fans have had plenty of prospects to watch on various World Junior teams over the past few years, but the 2021 crop is pretty thin. Nils Hoglander had a great tournament last year, finishing third overall in scoring with 11 points. But he turns 20 on December 20, so he's 12 days too old to take part again this year.

Vasily Podkolzin doesn't turn 20 until next June, so he should be back for his third tour of duty with Team Russia. He has a bronze medal from the 2019 tournament and a silver from last year. Can he complete the set?
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