Keep it simple – barring a major drop or surge from an 18-year-old prospect in the first round of the NHL Draft on July 7th in Montreal, here are the eleven players that make up that middle range where the Vancouver Canucks are sitting.
Obviously this could change if the Canucks trade out of the round, move up or down, or absolutely adore a player who’s ranked a handful of slots lower..
The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau (CSB) tracks draft prospects fulltime and has had a European office since the 1980’s to go with the North American operation.
Based on the NHL CSB’s final pre-draft rankings, these are the players most likely within the Vancouver Canucks wheelhouse in terms of draft order.
While the league usually releases ‘North American Skaters’, ‘North American Goalies’, individually as categories, and then repeats it for Europe, I’m checking out Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, who mooshes those listings together. He mooshes as well as anyone.
The last time the Vancouver Canucks had a first-round pick was in 2019 and they took Vasily Podkolzin at number-10. They took Quinn Hughes at number-7 in 2018 and in the five years previous they selected Elias Pettersson (5), Olli Juolevi (5), Jake Virtanen (6) and Bo Horvat (9) all in the top-ten. Brock Boeser was the exception at 23rd-overall in 2015.
The Vancouver Canucks didn’t have a first-round draft pick in 2020 or 2021 under general manger Jim Benning.
So again, here is that middle group mooshed, barring surprises:
Number 10 – Ryan Chesley, D, NTDP (USHL): Should he slip down, he would be of definite interest to the Canucks. He’s a right shot. The native Minnesotan participates in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). Kennedy calls him “one of the top blueline targets in the draft.” Next season he’ll play for what’s called “the U” in those parts, the University of Minnesota.
Number 11 – Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL) He’s put up some solid numbers with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League (WHL) but the Canucks aren’t really prioritizing a left-shot defenceman at the moment.
Number 12 – Frank Nazar, RW, NTDP (USHL) A right wing, now that’s something or someone they could use. USA Hockey NTDP again. Hey, relax, that’s where goalie Mr. Demko came from at one point.
Number 13 – Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (Rus.) Another off-wing shooter, in this case a left-shot on the right side. The Russians love playing on their off wing. Probably fits, but Russia right now is a concern for geopolitical (war) reasons.
Vancouver Hockey Now asked Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin what the Russian war in Ukraine might mean for NHL teams looking to deal with Russian players moving forward.
“At this point we don’t have any restrictions of drafting or signing Russian players, but it makes it more complicated,” Allvin said on May 3rd. “We’ll just follow the mandates from the league leading up to the draft.”
Number 14 – Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (Swe.) He’s 17-years-old at the moment and has been playing juniors in Stockholm with Djurgarden. Fits a need.
By the way, if you’re a hockey fan with a bucket list, taking in a “Derby” game, the battle of Stockholm, between Djurgarden and AIK during the regular season or whenever at the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) level, is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. The only problem recently, AIK was relegated and needs to work its way back up the country’s top league.
Number 15 – Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL) The Canucks don’t need a left-shot center, Austrian or not.
Number 16 – Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL) – The nice thing about this Russian-born is that he’s already playing juniors in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), unfortunately he’s a lefty D-man.
Number 17 – Rutger McGroarty, LW, NTDP (USHL) Another USA hockey kid who’s a left-shot playing the right side. Big and feisty and good.
Number 18 – Brad Lambert, RW, TPS (Fin.) A decent sized right-shot center who known for his skating ability and puck handling who’s been playing as a teenager in Finland’s top league. Ding, ding! Canadian dad, thus the name.
Number 19 – Liam Ohgren, RW, Djurgarden (Swe.) – Wow! 33 goals and 58 points in 30 Swedish junior games. Left shot who plays both sides. Hell yes.
Number 20 – Jagger Firkus, C, Moose Jaw (WHL) – Wicked cool name, wicked cool season with 80 points in 66 games in the Western League. However, defines undersized at 5’10 and 155 pounds.
There’s no guarantee that the club picks in this range obviously, as scouting staffs have favourites and dark horses, but this would be the likely group to fall within the Vancouver Canucks scope.
Happy speculating and happy shopping!!