Canucks call up touted prospect Jack Rathbone from AHL Utica

The soon-to-be 22-year-old defender won’t be available to make his NHL debut for at least a week

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The Vancouver Canucks are calling up one of their most high-profile prospects.

Jack Rathbone, the former Harvard University star, is being brought to Vancouver from the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets, a team source confirmed Friday.

The smooth-skating defenceman, who turns 22 in just over a month, has been tearing it up for the Comets this season, posting nine points in eight games.

He had a solid training camp for the Canucks and then spent the first few weeks of the season on the team’s taxi squad, allowing him time to practise with the big club before being sent to Utica when the AHL season began in February.

It was always clear Rathbone wouldn’t likely need too big a window to get used to professional hockey, even after his collegiate season came to an abrupt end last spring because of the pandemic.

A 2017 draft pick (fourth round, 95th overall) by the Canucks, he signed with the team last summer after deciding to leave Harvard early.

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The left-shot blueliner will spend the next week in quarantine and then, assuming he’s cleared, will be allowed to leave his hotel room to work out with the team under a “working quarantine” exemption approved last month by the federal government, allowing NHL players moving north from the United States to leave their regular quarantine after a week’s time if they have tested negative daily.

Rathbone’s recall also won’t be made official until he’s been cleared to skate with the team next week, as the Canucks juggle their roster ahead of their return to play on Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Recalling Rathbone also raises questions on whether one of the Canucks’ regular defencemen might opt out of the return to play. According to reports, Quinn Hughes was one of the players who suffered through some difficult symptoms. Alex Edler told Swedish newspaper Expressen that he dealt with a fever but seemed to have come through OK, but said he wouldn’t have been ready to play on Friday night had the NHL’s original plan for the Canucks played out.

Even if a defenceman doesn’t opt out, the Canucks will need all hands on deck at this point, just to deal with what will be a very busy schedule.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

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