By Tom Hunter (@)
The next team I am going to take a look at is the Vancouver Canucks. Why the Canucks? They are hilarious and there is absolutely no telling what they might do during draft weekend. They are a team that is in desperate need of a complete rebuild, but because the Sedin twins are still kicking around, ownership and managements seem reluctant to allow it.
The Canucks are where the Leafs were a handful of years ago – a team that isn’t good but still thinks they should be going for it. Trading away Jared McCann and the 33rd overall pick for Erik Gudbranson is a clear sign that the Canucks are going to be making a push for the playoffs this season, leaving the team in limbo for at least one more year.
The Canucks have a top-5 pick tomorrow and those are pretty hard to screw up – but then again we should never underestimate Jim Benning’s ability to deliver anguish to his fan base.
That said, here are some players that the Canucks might draft with each of their picks this weekend.
5. Olli Juolevi – D – London, OHL
The Canucks very well could pass on whichever of Pierre-Luc Dubois or Matthew Tkachuk is still on the board in favor of the young Finn blueliner. Juolevi is a very good prospect and many believe he’s the best defender in the draft – I have him as the second best on my personal list – but he would be a bad pick at 5th overall.
Juolevi has a ton of potential as an all-around defender. He was isolated a lot in London this season but when given a bigger role at the World Juniors he thrived.
Benning seems hell bent on drafting a defenseman, the problem is that there isn’t one worth drafting in the top-5. If Juolevi is your target, you would be much better calling Arizona or Buffalo and trying to move down a few picks. The problem is, Jim Benning isn’t very good at his job so the odds are that he will reach for a player he likes instead of maximizing the value of his top-5 pick.
64. Matt Filipe – F – Cedar Rapids, USHL
Filipe is a player that can line up at both center and wing. He is a very strong skater and has the physical tools to be a hard forechecking power forward. He plays well when he has the puck in traffic and doesn’t need a ton of space to create his own offense.
The downside to Filipe is his hockey intelligence. He is a player that doesn’t seem to have the natural instinct to match his athletic tools. His potential might be limited to a bottom-6 winger in the NHL, but the way he skates and the projectable frame are things that scouts will be drawn to.
140. Yevgeni Mityakin – F – Avto Yekaterinburg, MHL
A very poor man’s Patrik Laine?
Mityakin is said to be at his best when he’s posting up on the side boards during the powerplay. He has a very strong wrist shot to go along with the vision to distribute the puck if his own shot is taken away. He has a big frame and long reach that allows his to control the puck well.
His skating is ok, but can be stand to be improved. He wasn’t named to any international teams this season but Mityakin should be a big part ot team Russia at this year’s World Juniors.
154. Eric Henderson – LW – Oshawa, OHL
Henderson is a very raw forward with an intriguing skill set. Buried in an incredibly deep London Knights organization, Henderson finally got his chance at regular minute after being traded to Oshawa midway through the season. As the season went on, Henderson became more and more comfortable and will be a guy that could take a huge leap next season playing in the Generals top-6.
Henderson is a two-way winger that has great instincts and plays well without the puck. Thanks to the way he plays, Henderson has been asked handle a more defensive role in Oshawa but he was able to show flashes that suggest a bigger role could result in more offensive production.
184. Colin Grannary – W – Merritt, BCHL
Grannary is a smaller winger that is able to create offense for himself with great puck work and high intelligence. With the puck on his stick, Grannary is great in open space, but he is also very strong at protecting the puck down low and against the boards.
He’s the kind of player that looks dominant offensively as the best player on a bad team and against low-end competition. We will have to see if he can translate his skills to stronger competition as he jumps to the NCAA next season.
194. Michael Campoli – D – USNDT
Michael Campoli has absolutely no offense to his game, and Jim Benning is almost certainly ok with that. Campoli is a big stay-at-home defender that protects his own end with a long reach that helps him keep the middle of the ice clear. He is only an ok skater, but he is able to close gaps well because he won’t overpursue the play.
Campoli is a long shot to make the NHL but he’s the kind of big defensive defender that old school scouts and GMs want to take a chance on. He has the huge advantage of having time to develop in one of the best programs in the NCAA as he heads to Boston College in the fall.
Check out our comprehensive Consolidated Draft List here for more information on the top prospects in this year’s draft.