Welcome back to another Vancouver Canucks prospect report here at The Hockey Writers. In this edition, we are heading back to North America to check on Arshdeep Bains and his historic season with the Red Deer Rebels and Ethan Keppen’s swan song with the Flint Firebirds.
We will also check in with Viktor Persson and the Kamloops Blazers, as he, Bains and Keppen get prepared for the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs respectively which start on Thursday (April 21).
To close out the report, we will take a final look at the NCAA to find out how Jacob Truscott fared in the recently completed Frozen Four along with some notes about Linus Karlsson, Jonathan Myrenberg and Lucas Forsell who have gotten the call from their respective countries for some tournament play. That and a whole lot more as we continue to bring you updates about all the prospects in North America and overseas.
Bains Finishes Historic 2021-22 Season With Bob Clarke Trophy
The WHL season is now over and Bains is your Bob Clarke Trophy winner. After yet another multi-point outing where he recorded a goal and an assist against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday (April 16), he finished with an impressive 112 points on 43 goals and 69 assists. With it, he became the first player of South Asian descent to complete a season as the WHL’s leading scorer.
In what was his final season in the WHL, Bains will finish his career with 77 goals and 209 points in 266 games with the Rebels over just five seasons. That ranks him 11th in franchise history behind NHL names like Colby Armstrong (214), Boyd Gordon (259), Brandon Hagel (309), and the overall leader, Arron Asham (329). He also finished with the fourth-best season overall behind B.J. Young’s 114 points in 1996-97, Craig Reichert’s 119 in 1993-94 and Justin Mapletoft’s 120 in 2000-01. Finally, his 69 assists were the most by a Rebels forward since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put up 75 in 2010-11, and the third-most overall behind him and Mapletoft (77 in 2000-01).
All in all, Bains recorded a monster season that will go down in history as one of the best the Rebels have ever seen. Now, he was older than all those names, but that shouldn’t discount the accomplishment. He will now look to add to his trophy case when his team meets the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round of the playoffs that starts on April 22. We will see if the dynamic duo of Bains and Ben King can keep their chemistry going as they combined for 95 goals and 217 points and were the first double-barrel 100-point men ever in Rebels history.
2022 WHL Playoffs Schedule (*if necessary)
- April 22 vs. Wheat Kings – 6 pm PT
- April 23 vs. Wheat Kings – 6 pm PT
- April 26 at Wheat Kings – 5 pm PT
- April 27 at Wheat Kings – 5 pm PT
- *April 29 vs. Wheat Kings – TBD
- *May 1 at Wheat Kings – 3 pm PT
- *May 3 vs. Wheat Kings – 6 pm PT
Persson Getting Ready For First Playoff Experience in North America
Even though Persson finished the 2021-22 season on a bit of a quiet note offensively with only two goals in his final 30 games, his first foray onto North American ice went well all things considered. His size and mobility were an asset to the Blazers’ attack as they wrapped up first in the B.C. Division with 99 points and will now face the Spokane Chiefs in the playoffs.
Persson, as we mentioned in the last report, is projected to be a sixth/seventh defenceman at his peak and will be watched closely by Canucks fans as he develops. The 6-foot-2, right-hand shot is exactly what they need on their blue line as they continue to retool their roster for the future. As of right now, he is one of their top prospects with that particular attribute. That is until they hopefully select one in the upcoming 2022 Draft in July. It will be interesting to see how he handles the added pressure of the postseason, even if it’s only at the junior level.
2022 WHL Playoffs Schedule (*if necessary)
- April 22 vs. Chiefs – 7 pm PT
- April 23 vs. Chiefs – 7 pm PT
- April 25 vs. Chiefs – 7 pm PT
- April 29 at Chiefs – 7:05 pm PT
- *April 30 at Chiefs – 7:05 pm PT
- *May 2 at Chiefs – 7:05 pm PT
- *May 4 vs. Chiefs – 7 pm PT
Keppen Solid in Return to the Firebirds
As we mentioned in a previous report, Keppen was an unexpected addition to the Firebirds this season after starting in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Abbotsford Canucks. The 21-year-old fourth-round pick in 2019 finished with a solid 23 goals and 40 points in 42 games, which was his best since his second season back in his draft year when he put up 30 goals and 59 points in 68 games.
Known for his physicality and work ethic, Keppen could definitely make it in the NHL as an energy forward on the fourth line or a frequent AHL call-up when injuries strike. Like Bains, he recorded a goal and an assist in his final game of the season and will be going into the playoffs with a bit of confidence. He has also been very productive over the past two months accumulating 13 goals and 19 points in 24 games. The Firebirds will be hoping that continues into the playoffs as they go up against Cedrick Guindon (30 goals, 59 points) and the Owen Sound Attack starting on April 22.
2022 OHL Playoffs Schedule (*if necessary)
- April 22 vs. Generals – 4 pm PT
- April 23 vs. Generals – 4 pm PT
- April 25 at Generals – 4 pm PT
- April 27 at Generals – 4 pm PT
- *May 1 vs. Generals – 1 pm PT
- *May 3 at Generals – 4 pm PT
- *May 4 vs. Generals – 4 pm PT
Truscott Denied Chance at NCAA Championship
Truscott and the Michigan Wolverines saw their season come to an end at the hands of Carter Savoie and the Denver Pioneers when the latter scored the overtime winner in the Semifinal of the Frozen Four on April 8. As a result, the highly-favoured Wolverines were denied their chance at a ninth championship and first since 1998. As for the 20-year-old 2020 fifth-round pick, he completed his sophomore season with two goals and 17 points in 40 games alongside a solid plus-28 in a plus/minus column. He will now await a contract from the Canucks and/or prepare for his junior campaign with Michigan in 2022-23.
Karlsson Gets the Call From Sweden for the 2022 World Championship
Although Karlsson’s season came to an end in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), his country wasn’t about to let him start his vacation just yet. A couple of days after his team was eliminated from the SHL Playoffs, he got the call to join Team Sweden for the upcoming IIHF World Championship which runs from May 13-29. On a squad that is likely to include some NHLers, it will be an eye-opening experience for him as he looks to start his career in North America as soon as next season. Unfortunately, now that he is committed to the tournament, he likely won’t be signing a contract until the summer, and by extension, won’t be available to the Abbotsford Canucks for the AHL playoffs. Nevertheless, it should be fun to watch him against some NHL-level competition in a few weeks.
Karlsson also got some recognition from the SHL as they made him one of the finalists for the Rookie of the Year. He probably won’t win it with the likes of 2021 sixth-overall pick Simon Edvinsson (Detroit Red Wings) in the running, but it’s a great accomplishment nonetheless.
Myrenberg & Forsell Updates
- After seeing his J20 Nationell playoff run with Linkoping HC J20 come to an end, Jonathan Myrenberg joined Team Sweden for the Four Nations Cup. In two games, he had a goal along with three shots and a plus-2 in the plus/minus column. He didn’t see a lot of ice though, as he only played 13:45 in the first game against Slovakia in their 4-0 win and 8:44 against Czechia in what ended as a 4-3 shootout win.
- Fellow Swede Lucas Forsell was also named to the team but saw even less ice than Myrenberg. He went pointless with two shots on goal through the two games and saw 12:09 and 6:51 of ice time in both games respectively.
That does it for another edition of the Canucks Prospects Report. Stay tuned for the inaugural edition of the Canucks Prospects Awards where I will shine the spotlight on a few standouts from the 2021-22 season as everyone’s respective campaigns draw to a close.
All stats and data were taken from Elite Prospects
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.