Gritty RFA Hawryluk takes pride in his 200-foot game
Jayce Hawryluk found out the hard way how Tyler Motte maintains a bowling-ball presence.
Motte is the Vancouver Canucks' nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Award for perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship, an honour voted on by the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
The gritty winger goes all out on every shift — even in a training camp scrimmage — to drive home the point that his determination to lead club forwards in hits, blocked shot and take-aways is just as vital as playing a prominent role on the penalty kill and chipping in offensively to extend his career.
Hawryluk was injured in the final camp scrimmage on a neutral-zone collision with Motte. He had to be helped off the ice with an upper-body injury and didn't play until Feb. 25.
“It wasn't really a hit, just a hockey play,” Hawryluk recalled Monday. “It happened in a quick game and I remember the whole thing and I was happy to be back playing because it wasn't too serious.
“Tyler is a good guy. He obviously didn't mean for that to happen and congratulations to him for being nominated.”
The 25-year-old Hawryluk has made an impression at right wing in a frequent alignment with Tyler Graovac and Matthew Highmore to be a line that can grind and play in transition — just like Motte, who's sidelined with another injury in a trying season.
Hawryluk piled up 106 points (47-59) in his final junior season with the WHL champion Brandon Wheat Kings and was on the Canucks' radar in the 2014 draft. However, the Florida Panthers selected the five-foot-eleven, 196 pound Yorkton, Sask. native 32nd overall. Four selections later, the Canucks claimed Thatcher Demko.
Hawryluk has already run the gamut of being claimed on waivers by the Ottawa Senators and then not being tendered a qualifying offer by the club as a restricted free agent. The Canucks came calling with a one-year, two-way contract last October that pays US$800,000 at the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL.
“I wouldn't say I have to reinvent my game,” said Hawryluk. “I try to have the same mindset every time I go out there and play a complete game. I know I have offensive skills to make plays and score and I've have done it at every level and will continue to try and do it.
“I pride myself on leaving it all out there with a 200-foot game and always being a hard guy to play against.”
As an RFA eligible for arbitration, there's an obvious curiosity about whether Hawryluk is a future fit in a bottom-six mix that could sport different looks next fall. His speed is an asset and so is his compete level. Five points (2-3) in his first 23 games this season don't tell the whole story.
“He has been a good shot of energy for us in games, practices and on the bench,” said Canucks coach Travis Green. “He's had some very solid games and you're happy for guys to get the chance and have some results lately.”
GADJOVICH ON RADAR
Jonah Gadjovich took the morning skate Monday. It came following a seven-day mandatory quarantine in Winnipeg after being recalled from the Utica Comets.
More noted for his good size and continuing to work at improving his sometimes sluggish stride, the 22-year-old winger has exploded for 15 goals in 19 games in the AHL this season.
That's going to move the curiosity meter because the second-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft may be turning a corner.
“Being off the ice for a week and not getting practices is always a challenge for young players that are looking to make a mark and play their best,” said Green. “We'll take it day-by-day with him because it's exciting to see him.”
The tall task for Gadjovich is to develop better straight-line acceleration, but with the goals has come more confidence and a heightened willingness to make plays.