Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of Vancouver Canucks training camp has been the play of rookie winger Nicklas Jensen.
The 29th pick in June’s entry draft, Jensen has won over head coach Alain Vigneault, who has been effusive in his praise. The 18-year-old will be kept around this week as the team travels to California for a pair of exhibition games, but is expected to be returned to his junior club, the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals, by the weekend.
Vigneault has been impressed with the workload Jensen has handled this month. He took part in Vancouver’s prospect camp in Penticton, B.C., before taking part in three preseason games. “He hasn’t missed a beat,” Vigneault said.
The big Dane, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 187 lbs., is not quite ready physically to play in the NHL. He needs to tighten up his body and add some muscle before developing into his promise as an NHL power forward, but the Canucks are over the moon about his first professional camp, meaning Jensen is someone worth watching when it comes to cracking the roster next season. He signed an entry-level contract last week.
“We’ve got a very good kid there,” Vigneault said. “We’ve got to develop him.”
The other rookie surprise of camp is defenceman Frankie Corrado, who has already been signed and returned to his junior club, the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.
Canucks management sees a little bit of Chris Tanev in Corrado. Tanev, 21, surprised everyone last year when he looked NHL-ready in a 29-game cameo, just one season removed from U.S. college hockey.
Like Tanev, the Canucks see Corrado as a poised young blue-liner with advanced hockey IQ. The 18-year-old moves the puck without hesitation or panic, and demonstrated a well-rounded game while in camp. He’s another one to watch come next year.