With a revamped roster, the new Canucks brass has created competition for roster spots on the main club as we approach the start of a new season. Nicklas Jensen, the Canucks’ 2011 1st round pick, is one of many young players looking to challenge for a roster spot.
Jensen’s 17 game stint with the Canucks at the end of the last season showcased both promising and inconsistent play. At times he looked like he was making plays at his own will, created numerous offensive opportunities, and scoring goals. However, he was inconsistent during his short stay as well. He scored all 6 of his points in 10 games to start his time with Vancouver, but ended the year with a 7 game pointless streak, despite averaging 15:38 of ice time and almost 2 minutes of power play time. Still, his short stint in the NHL was a step in the right direction.
The recently concluded Young Stars tournament held a lot of expectations for Jensen. General manager Jim Benning had this to say before the start of the tournament:
I want to see him produce. He’s been in this tournament and he’s one of our guys who is experienced. I’m expecting him to produce.
Jensen, one of the assistant captains in the tournament, definitely failed to make a significant impact, mustering only a single assist.
This is the year that Jensen must assert himself as a regular NHL player for the Canucks. It’s a big year for Jensen, who is now in his 4th season of development ever since being drafted 29th overall. The only thing that may interfere with his chances of making an impact in the NHL this year is finding an open roster spot, as the Canucks enter camp carrying 28 forwards that are under contract for this season. Jensen will need to supplant the likes of Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, Derek Dorsett or Shawn Matthias for a spot on the third or fourth line. This may not be a make or break year for Jensen, but a successful 2014-15 season would go a long way in increasing the trust that the fans and organization have for him.
Judging by his mediocre Young Stars tournament and tight competition for only a few roster spots, it is pretty safe to say that Nicklas Jensen will most likely start the regular season with the Utica Comets. Despite the fact that he will start the season in the AHL, Jensen will definitely be someone that Jim Benning & Co keep a very close eye on. Jensen will likely be one of the first players called up and will end up in the Canucks line-up during some portion of the year. How long he will stay up will be up to him.
Feature Image: uticacomets.com