Photo credit: National Post
Can anyone say the Vancouver Canucks have a prospect who can be legitimately considered a blue-chipper? Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen, and Brendan Gaunce are all nice to look at, but none can be considered the crowned jewel of their system. You’d have to go all the way back to Cody Hodgson’s shining performance at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships for that.
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft has been touted as one of the deeper drafts in recent memory, so the Canucks would be wise to target a prospect who’s both a safe bet to play in the NHL and can make an impact. With that said, here’s a handful of players the Canucks could call upon when they select at 24th overall.
The Longshots (Players who have an outside chance at falling)
Curtis Lazar, C/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): At about this time last year, Lazar was a candidate to go as high as top ten. He struggled to duplicate last year’s numbers and his ranking fell, but he finished the season strong. Lazar has been labeled as a player who can play several roles, whether as a scoring winger or checking centre. But he’s also from B.C., and he plays in the WHL, so it seems unlikely the Canucks would even gamble on him.
Max Domi, C, London Knights (OHL): Max, son of Tie, is much more skilled than his dad ever was. His craftiness with the puck was on full display at this year’s Memorial Cup and despite his small frame plays a big man’s game. It would be easy to draw comparisons to Brendan Gallagher, and those type of players are in high demand these days.
Hunter Shinkaruk, C, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): Another WHL player, which should make him ineligible to be drafted by Vancouver. Perhaps fairly or unfairly, Shinkaruk’s game has drawn comparisons to Jeff Skinner, because despite his height, plays with enough skill that he can make an impact in the NHL as soon as next season. His silky hands would be a huge boost to Vancouver’s roster immediately, but it seems unlikely his size will keep him off the board until the 24th selection.
The Wildcards (High risk, high reward players)
Anthony Mantha, LW, Val d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL): Mantha was the only player in the CHL to crack 50 goals this season, which should automatically have people wondering how he’s not a top ten pick. But his work ethic has come into question a couple times; the jury is still out on his defensive game. The thing is, you can teach the defensive side of hockey… can you coach the offensive skill that Mantha has?
Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights (OHL): Tyler Myers started the trend in his 2008 draft, and since then towering blueline giants like Dylan McIlrath and Jarred Tinordi have been scooped up, because every NHL team covets behemoths who could be the “next Chara”. This Russian mammoth is 6’5 and has been characterized as being a good skater despite his frame. If teams are looking for someone who at the least can be a good defensive defenseman, Zadorov is it.
Nicholas Petan, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL): He’s 5’8, which should automatically set off some alarm bells. But after posting 120 points, can you take the risk? Teams may be scared off about his height, but if Petan can develop physically, he could be a draft day steal. And besides, if players like Tyler Ennis are finding ways to survive in the NHL, Petan may be no different.
The Fits (Players who are ideal picks)
Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL): The son of former NHLer and Spitfires owner Warren plays a hard-nosed game which isn’t dissimilar of Ryan Kesler when he was drafted a decade ago. Rychel is a win-at-all-costs character who has ideal NHL size to go along with a 40-goal touch he had this year in the OHL. The Canucks have also never been shy to draft out of the OHL (see Gaunce, Jensen, and Hodgson).
Adam Erne, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL): Erne does a lot of the little things right, which makes him a safe pick. He’s a Connecticut-born winger who plied his trade with Patrick Roy in the Q and is a great skater and smart player who at the least has been projected to be a checker at the NHL level.
Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL): The Canucks may have hoped that Hartman’s Whalers teammate Tom Wilson was around at their pick last season, but he was scooped up by the Capitals. Hartman is cut from the same cloth as Wilson: A gritty, in-your-face player who will bring a high compete level and an edge to his game.