Vancouver Canucks 2017 Entry Draft Preview


I am not a scout, nor am I a hockey professional in any way. I watch a lot of NHL hockey, and some AHL, but very little of any level below that. At most, I’ve seen these players play the odd game on Sportsnet. Almost all of my knowledge regarding the following players comes solely from the opinions of others, along with some highlight packages and things like that.


The Picks: 

(First Round is Friday, June 23rd. The rest are Saturday, June 24th)

First Round, 5th Overall

Second Round, 33rd Overall

Second Round, 55th Overall (from Columbus for John Tortorella, lol)

Third Round,  64th Overall

Fourth Round, 95th Overall

Fourth Round, 112th Overall (from San Jose for Jannik Hansen)

(Fifth Round Pick traded for Philip Larsen)

(Sixth Round Pick traded with Nicklas Jensen for Emerson Etem)

Seventh Round, 188th Overall


Top Nine @ 5OA:

Gabe Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires, OHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 5

The Hockey News’ Rank- 3

The Good- Possession is the hottest word in hockey, and Vilardi’s got his possession game locked down. Vilardi uses his size and puck-handling abilities to control the play for his team, ensuring that they spend plenty of time on offense to help pad his impressive totals. Described as a player with great awareness and “hockey sense.” Was a major part of the Spitfires’ Memorial Cup win. 

The Bad- Vilardi’s skating has been questioned by most scouts. That’s something the Canucks have heard before, and sometimes it works out great, like with Bo Horvat. Other times, it’s not so great, like with Cody “Anakin Skywalker” Hodgson.

The Nickname Potential- “Chef Vilardi”


Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK, Finnish Elite League

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 3

The Hockey News’ Rank- 6

The Good- Heiskanen was a big climber in the rankings over the year, and seems to have claimed the spot as top defenseman. Heiskanen is an all-around defender who hasn’t looked out of place at either end of the ice playing against men in Finland. A true two-way defender.

The Bad- Heiskanen’s point totals aren’t anything to write home about, which suggests he’s probably not going to be a big scorer at the NHL level. Was part of an awful Finnish squad at the World Juniors.

The Nickname Potential- “The Kanen,” if he works on his shot.


Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks, WHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 8

The Hockey News’ Rank- 10

The Good- Glass is a skilled and smart player with no glaring deficiencies in his game. He scored at a tremendous pace for the Winterhawks, and he’s got a large frame that he should be able to fill out. He’s been compared to centers like Mark Scheifele and Ryan Johansen for his blend of size and ability, and some consider him nearly on par with Nolan Patrick.

The Bad- Projections for Glass are all over the board, and that’s likely because his development isn’t quite as far along as many of his draftmates. Glass has only played two years in the WHL, so teams will be drafting him based on projected development and potential, which isn’t an exact science.

The Nickname Potential- “Not Tanner”


Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie, US High School/Green Bay, USHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 6

The Hockey News’ Rank- 4

The Good- Mittelstadt has incredible puck-handling abilities, and is described as having an uncanny vision in the offensive zone. He’s already physically developed, at over 200 pounds, and uses his size to bring the puck into difficult areas on the ice.

The Bad- Mittelstadt has thus far played his hockey in relatively inferior leagues, which means that his development is still quite raw. His skating isn’t a strong point, so he’ll have a doubly difficult time adjusting to the higher levels of play.

The Nickname Potential- “Casey in the Mittel” or “Mittens”


Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits, AJHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 4

The Hockey News’ Rank- 5

The Good- He’s been compared to Erik Karlsson, so he’s got that going for him. Makar is the most skilled defenseman in the draft, and he’s dominant and dynamic on the point. Makar’s skating ability allows him to control the play.

The Bad- Makar is small, and although that isn’t necessarily a hindrance, it will make the defensive game more difficult for him at the professional level. As well, Makar spent the year in the AJHL, a Jr. A circuit that is a step below the BCHL in terms of quality. That makes his developmental potential a bit of a question mark.

The Nickname Potential- “Dude, Where’s Makar?” or, for the older crowd, “Baby, You Can Drive Makar.”


Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle, Sweden Elitserien

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 16

The Hockey News’ Rank- 15

The Good- Liljegren started the season as a challenger for First Overall, but he dropped steadily in the rankings as the campaign wore on. However, he also started the year suffering a bout with mono, so perhaps his poor performance is explainable. Liljegren is a slick and talented defender with pro experience, and all of his ability didn’t just disappear overnight.

The Bad- All that being said, Liljegren did slide way down the draft rankings, and that traditionally isn’t a good sign. He’s described as defensively questionable, but he also played on a terrible team. Scouts obviously see something in Liljegren’s game they don’t like, and it’s never a good thing if a player’s progress plateaus before they’re drafted.

The Nickname Potential- “Lil’ Tim”


Elias Pettersson, C, Timra, Swedish Allsvenskan

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 7

The Hockey News’ Rank- 10

The Good- The dirtiest dangles this side of Datsyuk. Pettersson is a visionary player that seems to see the play a few steps ahead of other players. He consistently drives offense for his team, and  he has pre-established chemistry with recent acquisition Jonathan Dahlen, too, which is a nice bonus.

The Bad- Pettersson isn’t as physically developed as several of the other prospects. He’s 6’2”, but only about 160 pounds, meaning he has a lot of work to do before handling the rigors of the NHL. Some scouts wonder if he has the fortitude to make skilled plays against tougher competition.

The Nickname Potential- “Don’t Call Me Barry” or “Heavy Petter”


Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 10

The Hockey News’ Rank- 7

The Good- Tippett is a goal-scoring machine, putting up 0.75 goals per game in only his second OHL season. His shot is his best weapon, and he’s skilled at getting into the high percentage shooting areas and letting it rip.

The Bad- Like many snipers, there are questions about Tippett’s work ethic and defensive abilities. Some question how often he’ll be able to get himself into a scoring position against a higher calibre of defense. He’s also a right-winger, which is a position the Canucks are unlikely to target.

The Nickname Potential- “Tipper,” “Tipsy,” or “The Tipster.” All boring, do no draft.


Martin Necas, C, Brno, Czech League

Bob McKenzie’s Rank- 11

The Hockey News’ Rank- 12

The Good- Necas is a highly skilled centerman who showed well for the Czechs at the World Juniors despite playing on a weak squad. Necas is a two-way defender and often sacrifices offense for defense, especially this year, when he went straight from midget hockey into the top Czech League.

The Bad- Necas is slight, but could probably grow into it. He’s also fairly inconsistent, and although he was playing against men in the Czech Republic, he did only put up 15 points. The Czech League is one of the weakest ones around, and thus the quality of competition Necas has faced is low.

The Nickname Potential- “Nechazzy.” (It’s pronounced Neh-chass).


My Personal Ranking Of Those Nine:

1) Gabe Vilardi

2) Elias Pettersson

3) Miro Heiskanen

4) Cody Glass

5) Casey Mittelstadt

6) Cale Makar

7) Timothy Liljegren

8) Owen Tippett

9) Martin Necas


An Assortment Of Nine @ 33OA

To list all of the potential second rounders the Canucks might draft on June 24th would be a difficult task. It’s hard enough to predict who will be available at number five, never mind figuring out the 33rd pick! This is just an informal collection of names that have jumped out at me and have been available at or near pick 33 in various mock drafts. It is by no means a complete list.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown, QMJHL:

Brother of WJC member Mathieu Joseph. P-O is a puck moving defenseman who is no slouch on the defensive side. Needs lots of physical development.


Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane, WHL:

Anderson-Dolan was the captain for Canada at the Under-18s, but he was also held pointless. He’s small, but skilled, and his point totals skyrocketed for Spokane this year.


Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph, OHL:

Ratcliffe is a ginormous 6’5”, and thus has power forward potential. Still quite raw and undeveloped, but you can’t teach size, and Ratcliffe has shown glimpses of greater offensive abilities.


Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland, WHL:

Jokiharju is slight for a defenseman, but he plays smart, skates well, and gets the puck to where it needs to be. He had a poor playoff performance, but looked great for most of the regular season.


Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP, Finland:

Vaakanainen sports one heck of a name, and the Canucks have had luck with Finns lately. Vaakanainen hasn’t shown much offense anywhere except for the Under-18s, where he surprisingly put up over a point-per-game. He is a supremely smooth skater.


Jason Robertson, RW, Kingston, OHL:

Robertson has some of the skills of a power forward, but his skating isn’t where it needs to be to play that game. He’s a deadly sniper at the Junior level, but some question if he can play that game at a higher level.


Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo, USHL:

Bowers is one of those “safe picks,” with a rock-solid defensive game and enough offensive ability to pretty much guarantee him an NHL job. Probably a checking-line player at his best, however.


Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville, QMJHL:

Comtois is a weird case, in that his production actually went down this year after a breakout rookie campaign. Comtois was given more responsibility this year, and failed to live up to it. He does have a reputedly solid defensive game, especially for a scoring winger.


Grant Mismash, C, US National Team Development Program:

Mostly, I just love this player’s name. However, Mismash was also a big part of the US Gold winning team at the Under-18s, and he plays a well-rounded offensive game that should translate to the pros.


Top Five Canucks Most Likely To Be Traded At The Draft-

1) Draft Picks- If the Canucks do want to move up at the Draft, the traditional way to do that is with various combinations of draft picks. With two second round picks, the Canucks have plenty of flexibility, and may jump at the chance to move up and grab a player they really like. The cost to move from 5OA into the top three might not be as large as it would have been in previous years.

2) Chris Tanev- The obvious candidate, as he may hold the most trade value on the entire team aside from Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. Tanev’s age puts him just out of synch with the youth movement, and if placed on the trading block, he’d quickly become one of the most sought after commodities as a right-side, shutdown defender. A trade for Tanev is far more likely at the Entry Draft than it is before the Expansion Draft, as teams would not have to worry about protection slots anymore. However, the Canucks don’t have to trade Tanev at all, so other teams will need to offer something really astonishing to get Jim Benning to budge.

3) The Rights To Ryan Miller- The goalie market is starting to heat up, and it’s conceivable that there could be multiple suitors for Ryan Miller, and perhaps even multiple suitors in the state of California. With the league suddenly short three or more goalies post-Expansion Draft, it’s entirely possible that a team flips the Canucks a low draft pick in order to lock Miller up before the Free Agent Frenzy.

4) Luca Sbisa- Many expect Sbisa to be taken in the Expansion Draft, but if he isn’t, he might still be dealt. There will be a dearth of D-men in the league after Vegas culls their own defensive core from the herd, and with only one year remaining on his contract, Sbisa might finally be an attractive asset. If the Canucks hang on to both Tanev and Alex Edler, they might want to unload Sbisa in order to free up some space for Olli Juolevi, Philip Holm, or Jordan Subban.

5) Alex Edler- Edler, at 31, is the most logical piece for the Canucks to trade. He’s still productive, but probably not for much longer, and his value has definitely peaked. Edler also has a reasonable contract that would be attractive to multiple teams, but unfortunately that’s also the reason he most likely won’t be traded. Edler has a no-trade clause, and has stated his unwillingness to waive it in the past, as he loves the city of Vancouver. Perhaps his time playing with John Klingberg at the World Championships will entice him to take his talents to Texas?


How the Vancouver Canucks Can Quickly Recover From the Expansion Draft Via Free Agency

The offseason is soon completely upon us, and this year promises to be the most entertaining in a while. The NHL is expanding for the first time in nearly two decades, and the pending Expansion Draft will no doubt complicate the offseason roster plans for most NHL teams.

The Vancouver Canucks, however, stand to lose relatively little via Expansion, and they will also have the opportunity to make up for whatever loss they incur almost immediately via free agency.


Who Will The Canucks Lose?: The Canucks are probably going to lose one of either Luca Sbisa, Brendan Gaunce, or Reid Boucher. Of the three, Sbisa is probably the most effective player, but he is expensive and Vegas stands to have better options than him available at D. Gaunce has the most potential, but has shown himself to be an offensive black hole at the NHL level. Boucher is probably the best combination of current skill and potential, and is my personal bet to be selected. Other possibilities include Michael Chaput, Alex Biega, Jayson Megna, and Andrey Pedan.


What Will They Need Going Into Free Agency?: To replace the player selected in the Expansion Draft, the Canucks are going to need some added depth. This is especially true if Sbisa is selected, as the defense will have lost Sbisa, Nikita Tryamkin, and Philip Larsen in the same offseason (Although the signing of Philip Holm will help). If one of the forwards is selected, however, forward depth will be important, too, and a focus on depth centers is probably a good strategy heading into free agency, as center depth is always valuable.

The Canucks, looking at another potential lottery season, should focus on those free agents that are willing to sign for relatively cheap and, preferably, for only one year. This would allow the Canucks to sell some pieces at the deadline to accrue more draft picks. If any of these signings have playoff experience, that’s an added bonus.


Potential Depth Center/Forward Signings:

Andrew Desjardins, C- Desjardins offensive production has fallen off a cliff, with only one point in 46 games last season. That being said, Desjardins has a ton of experience, is only 30 years old, and is only two seasons removed from his turn as a Cup-winning fourth line center. Desjardins would likely be a deadline commodity.

Vern Fiddler, C- Fiddler is 37 years old, and was almost kept off the list because of it, but his trade deadline acquisition and run to the Finals with Nashville proves he is still a valuable NHL commodity. Fiddler could help mentor young forwards, and would likely be of interest to a contender at the deadline. Plus, his Kevin Bieksa impressions would endear him to fans instantly.

Stanislav Galiev, LW- Galiev is an odd case. He’s a group VI unrestricted free agent, meaning he’s hitting the open market at the unusually young age of 25. He’s torn up the AHL, but Washington’s depth has resulted in limited NHL opportunities. If Galiev is looking for a better opportunity in the big leagues, he’d make an excellent replacement for Boucher or Gaunce.

Dwight King, LW- King is only 27 years old, but he has an abundance of playoff experience with the LA Kings. His performance in Montreal was disappointing, but that’s true of countless Habs. If King could be signed at a bargain price, he’d be an excellent addition to any forward corps, and his experience would make him a definite target at the deadline.

Jay McClement, C- McClement, at 34, is getting up there in age, but he’s still able to maintain his position as an incredibly solid fourth-line center. He’s been toiling away in relative obscurity for the Hurricanes recently, and it’s a bit surprising he wasn’t dealt at the deadline this year. McClement is great on the defensive side of the puck, but offers little offense.

Nate Thompson, C- Thompson, 32, has been quite injury prone of late, but other than that he’s an ideal depth center. Thompson can play up and down the lineup, and he chips in plenty of offense for his role. Thompson’s great performance in the playoffs this year may result in a team overpaying him, however.

Chris Thorburn, RW- That Thorburn is the longest-tenured Winnipeg Jet says a lot about his versatility. Thorburn can play all forward positions, and he brings a large amount of toughness and grit to the lineup. At 34, his offense has dried up, but he’s the type of player that can make the game easier for his teammates just by being out there. A likely target for playoff bound teams at the deadline.

Scottie Upshall, LW- Upshall has been hanging around the NHL for over a decade and he’s remained relatively consistent throughout. At 33, Upshall has no room for improvement, but he’s a reliable depth scorer who can play on any line when called upon. Has a reputation of being a great teammate.

Ryan White, C- White, a 29 year old scrappy centerman, seems to be quite underrated. He played an important role in both Arizona and Minnesota this year, and even suited up in the playoffs for the Wild. He can play defensively, defend his teammates, and even chip in a bit of offense. Not a bad deadline target for any team.

Tommy Wingels, C- In addition to having one of the funnest names in the NHL, the 29 year old Wingels is a really versatile player. He can play any forward position and serve in multiple roles, although he’s best as a depth forward providing energy. His offense is nowhere near what it used to be, but he was still sought out by Ottawa to complement their roster this season.

Daniel Winnik, C- Winnik has an established history of garnering big returns at the trade deadline, having been traded for high picks on multiple occasions. He had a great regular season for Washington, notching 25 points, but disappeared in the playoffs, which may drive his price tag down a bit. At only 32, Winnik has a few good years left in him.


Potential Depth Defenseman Signings:

Yohann Auvitu- Auvitu was a darkhorse to ever play in the NHL, but he surprised by playing some competent minutes for a dreadful New Jersey team this year. His real coming-out party was at the World Championships, however, where Auvitu starred for an impressive Team France, hinting at some untapped potential at age 27.

Deryk Engelland- Engelland has spent the past few seasons being grossly overpaid by the Calgary Flames, but that could mean he is willing to sign for cheap to stay in Western Canada. He’s 35, and his best days are behind him, but he is one of the toughest d-men in the league and could replace some of the snarl of Sbisa and Tryamkin.

Cody Franson- The Sicamous-born D-man is not too far removed from some excellent seasons in Toronto, but his stints in Nashville and Buffalo were nowhere near as successful. At 29, Franson has definitely peaked, but he still provides a decent amount of offense and some competent defensive play. Most importantly, he likely has an interest in coming home to BC.

Eric Gryba- Gryba is a rough-and-tumble defenseman who performed well in limited showings for the Oilers this year. At only 29, Gryba has plenty of miles left on him, and he makes for a cheap Sbisa replacement if Sbisa goes to Vegas. Expect hitting, not offense, from Gryba.

Roman Polak- Polak is only 31 years old, and most would have probably pegged him as being much older. Polak’s style of game has worn his body down immensely, and his horrific injury in the playoffs probably won’t help his speed any. Still, Polak is a reliable veteran who is always in demand at the trade deadline, and the Canucks could do worse when looking for a Sbisa replacement.

Paul Postma- Hey-ey, wait a minute, Mr. Postma! Beatles references aside, the 28 year old defender has been held up by the defensive depth of the Jets, but still managed to put up 14 points in 65 games this year. Now a full-time NHLer, Postma might be looking for a home with a more definitive opportunity next year.


Potential Non-Tenders to Watch Out For:

“Non-tenders” are players who are technically Restricted Free Agents, but who might not be qualified by their teams and will thus become free agents. These would mostly be “reclamation projects,” but Jim Benning has shown an aptitude for such things in the past.

Nail Yakupov, RW- Yakupov is one of the most high-profile busts in recent memory, but the skill that made him a first overall pick hasn’t gone away. Yakupov will be a low-risk, high-reward sort of signing. Why not give him a shot?

Mikhail Grigorenko, C- Grigorenko was once highly-touted, but he’s failed to do much at the NHL level in either Buffalo or Colorado. Still, he was a part of some really weak teams, so the 23 year old might still find success with a new franchise. Grigorenko is weak defensively, but perhaps Travis Green could shore that up.

Eric Gelinas. D- Gelinas, 26, had a dreadful season, but he was playing for the worst team in hockey. He’s shown more potential in the past while a New Jersey Devil, so perhaps he can turn it on again in a city where Gelinas’ have been successful before.

Joe Morrow, D- Morrow is only 24, despite seemingly being “on the cusp” forever. He’s been a part of three organizations already, and has failed to make a significant impact on any of them. That being said, his last four seasons were in the Bruins organization, which has a large amount of defensive depth. There’s still potential there waiting to be uncovered.