The Vancouver Canucks have convinced one of their exciting young prospects to turn pro, signing Jack Rathbone to a three-year entry-level contract. Thomas Drance of The Athletic reports that the deal will actually start in 2019-20, meaning Rathbone will burn the first year of the contract without actually playing any games. He will not be eligible to take part in the Canucks playoff games, though he could join them and take part in the current training camp. The deal will conclude with the 2021-22 season.
Canucks GM Jim Benning released a short statement on the deal:
Jack is a dynamic player. He has the ability to transition the puck from the defensive zone, brings good offensive instincts and plays with an edge to his game. We are pleased to have Jack join our roster.
Rathbone, 21, is foregoing his final two seasons at Harvard to make the jump to professional hockey, following an All-American sophomore season. The left-handed defenseman recorded 31 points in 28 games, an impressive showing for a player that fell all the way to the fourth round just three years ago. Rathbone was the 95th player off the board in 2017 and Vancouver’s fifth selection. He could potentially be the third from that Canucks class to make it to the NHL however (following Elias Pettersson and Michael DiPietro) as he should push for a roster spot immediately in 2020-21.
Vancouver will have opportunities for playing time on defense, as Chris Tanev and Oscar Fantenberg are both scheduled for unrestricted free agency. The team has plenty of talent in the system, but Rathbone may have a leg up on several of those names after performing so well at the college level.