Does Jack Rathbone have a future in the NHL?
As the Vancouver Canucks do not utilize him in this manner.
This is a crucial year for the 23-year-old defenceman, who is at the age where he must prove himself as a professional hockey player.
The current Canucks management extended Rathbone’s NHL contract by two years this past summer for a specific reason. They recognize the dynamic defender’s potential. However, it is difficult to realize one’s potential from the press box.
Rathbone has averaged just 15:25 minutes of ice time per game in six appearances this season.
This is despite the fact that the Canucks’ defense has suffered injuries.
Rathbone is expected to miss tonight’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, as shown by Brendan Batchelor of Sportsnet 650’s morning line rushes. This will be his fifth consecutive game as a healthy scratch.
Rathbone is currently No. 8 on the depth chart, according to the Canucks’ coaches, as Riley Stillman will likely be in the lineup tonight. Despite being a right-shooting defenseman, Kyle Burroughs appears to be preferred over Rathbone, even when a position opens up on the left side. Stillman and Burroughs have both participated in 10 games this season.
It raises the question of whether the Canucks are stunting Rathbone’s development as a player.
The Canucks have utilized Rathbone as an AHL journeyman and not a prospect through the first and a half weeks of the season.
And you could understand why if the Canucks’ AHL affiliate was still located in Utica. Given that Bruce Boudreau’s job is on the line, he may not prefer an offensive-minded defenseman on his third pairing. Rathbone has not had a strong start to the season. In addition, Rathbone has already demonstrated his ability at the AHL level, scoring 40 points in 39 games for Abbotsford in the previous season.
Perhaps what he needs now is time in the NHL, even if that means picking up practice habits and spending time with his Vancouver teammates.
However, this need not be an all-or-nothing decision regarding Rathbone.
When the Canucks relocated their AHL affiliate to Abbotsford, many benefits were anticipated. If this is not an example, I’m not sure what is.
Rathbone could continue to skate with the NHL club and be sent to Abbotsford for occasional games.
The Massachusetts-born defenseman has a one-way contract, which means he would be paid the same regardless of whether he is playing for Vancouver or Abbotsford. However, he is still not subject to waivers, so the Canucks would not risk losing him to another team.
The Abbotsford Canucks are currently on a six-game road trip, so now is not the best time to send him down. However, between November 1 and 5, Rathbone watched three consecutive games from the Rogers Arena press box as a healthy scratch, while Abbotsford played two home games on November 4 and 5.
Instead, he did not play for ten days.
Between November 29 and December 10, Abbotsford plays six home games, which coincides with five Canucks games at Rogers Arena. If Rathbone is still waiting to play in Vancouver, this will be a second chance for him to see game action.