Attendees at the Canucks’ prospects camp will hit the ice on Friday morning for the first of four days of workouts at Rogers Arena.
Among the 35 players participating — 11 prospects and 24 free agents — will be Swedish defenceman Peter Andersson, who’s finally ready to make the jump to North America after being drafted by the Canucks in 2009 (143rd overall).
Canucks director of player development Dave Gagner said the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Andersson, 21, has been compared to a young Alex Edler but that it’s unfair to take it too far at this point.
“He moves the puck really well and plays a similar game in that he moves the puck well, plays on the power play and sees the ice well,” said Gagner. “But don’t forget Edler came over to play in North America at a much younger age [Canucks D-man Edler played in Kelowna for the WHL Rockets at age 19] and that really helped his transition.”
Andersson will certainly need at least a season with the AHL Chicago Wolves before contending for a job in Vancouver.
That can also be said of Alexandre Mallet, a late-blooming 20-year-old the Canucks selected in the second round of the NHL draft last weekend, as well as signed players centre Alex Friesen, 21, and goaltender Joe Cannata, 22.
Also here for the camp are the Canucks’ last two first-round picks – centre Brendan Gaunce (2012, 26th overall) and Nicklas Jensen (2011, 29th overall). Gaunce, 18, is expected to return to major junior with Belleville, while Jensen, 19 — who impressed at camp last fall and in a late-season stint with AHL Chicago — will play in Sweden if he doesn’t stick with Vancouver.
A notable absence is defenceman Patrick McNally, the Canucks’ top pick in the 2010 draft (115th overall). McNally, 20, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound offensive D-man, had a breakout season in his first year of U.S. collegiate hockey at Harvard — with six goals and 28 points in 34 games. But it was decided that the Glen Head, N.Y., native, who’s been to the two previous prospects camps, would be better off remaining in the East and training at Harvard.
Gagner said the camp fills two needs for the Canucks: Allowing new players to become familiar with the organization and its resources and expectations; and giving the NHL club an opportunity to have a look at the free-agent invitees.
Among those free agents are some interesting blood lines:
Cain Franson, 19, the younger brother of Toronto defenceman Cody Franson, who’s a centre with the WHL Vancouver Giants.
Stefano Momesso, 19, the son of one-time Canuck Sergio Momesso. Stefano is a left winger with Hawksbury of the Ontario junior A Central Canada Hockey League.
Nolan Zajac, 19, the brother of New Jersey Devils’ centre Travis Zajak, is a D-man who played in the USHL last season.