June 27 2014 10:37AM
The house of commons that is our comments section has been yelling at me for the last two weeks to release the full Canucks Army prospect rankings. In an act of transparency, I am kowtowing to the wishes of the public before I'm subpoenaed. This is our first time doing this since last year we had no idea the Canucks would draft in the Top 10, so here we are, covering all of our bases.
Since the five of us think relatively the same when it comes to prospects (ie: draft offensive players, don't draft for needs that can be filled in free agency, and try and hit home runs rather than singles) our rankings don't differ too much, but it's always fun when one guy clearly loves a guy more than the others, such as Craig Button and Zach Fucale, Josh W. and Brayden Point, or Josh W. and Anthony DeAngelo.
CANUCKS ARMY TOP 20
|CHARRON||DRANCE||FILIPOVIC||T. OFFSIDE||JOSH W.|
|Dal Colle||Nylander||Ehlers||Ekblad||Dal Colle|
We didn't cover some names at the bottom. If you listen to the podcast, which I've linked below (it's a long podcast, but more in-depth on the on-ice talents of the top prospects than most mainstream outlets) we go into some depth about Nikolay Goldobin, a talented Russian (duh) from the Sarnia Sting who made that organization forget about Nail Yakupov fairly quickly. He was point-a-game as a 16-year-old in the OHL in his rookie season.
Another Russian, a rookie with Saskatoon named Nikita Scherbak, flew under my radar, but not Rhys or Josh's. He was a pretty late pick in the CHL Import Draft and didn't come across the pond with too much fanfare, but was the highest scoring rookie in the WHL (albeit a year older than most rookies).
Then a QMJHL guy I like, as did Josh, is former first overall pick Daniel Audette, the third-ranked "son of longtime former NHLer" player. Daniel led a pretty awful offensive team in scoring, got 76 points in 68 games. The second-highest scorer on Sherbrooke scored 44 points. At 5'9", he's like the QMJHL version of Brayden Point: good scorer on a lousy team, too undersized to get noticed by many prospect hounds.
Receiving one vote each were Dylan Larkin, another USA U-18 player (notably absent is teammate Alex Tuch, who has gone top 20 in a few mocks I've read) and Jayce Hawryluk of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who is a player you want to take if you really hate your local broadcasters but don't want to fire them like Drew Remenda.
Rather than averaging out rankings, a player got 20 points for being ranked 1st on a player's ballot, 19 for 2nd, etc: all the way down to 1 point for a 20th place ranking. Here were the total standings:
I stand by my "Nik Ehlers at 12" ranking.
THE TOP 10
If you haven't seen all the prospect profiles...
#1 - Sam Reinhart | Top player in this draft for two years running. Best player available now.
#2 - Sam Bennett | Top ranked North American in CSS with impeccable vision and instincts.
#3 - William Nylander | Best offensive talent in draft. Favourites Canucks Army tweets about him.
#4 - Aaron Ekblad | Size, speed and offence. Only drawback is uncertainty of young defencemen.
#5 - Leon Draisaitl | Big, developed German scored as many points as Reinhart in WHL.
#6 - Michael Dal Colle | Size, speed, skill, something for everybody. Led Oshawa to a great season.
#7 - Nikolaj Ehlers | Top QMJHL rookie oozes skill, had one of the better draft seasons in recent memory.
#8 - Robby Fabbri | Went berserk in second half and playoffs with Memorial Cup finalists Guelph.
#9 - Kasperi Kapanen | Skilled, offensively gifted Finn has everything except the numbers to prove it.
#10 - Kevin Fiala | Highest points-per-game by draft-eligible player in Swedish league since Foppa.
Frequently asked question: Where is Nick Ritchie?
I... dunno? Ritchie was never really on our radars. His numbers are good, but he's a hell of a lot bigger than junior hockey players and not a whole lot bigger than most NHLers, so there goes his size advantage. A few scouts who value those sorts of things rank him highly, but all year he'd been mostly considered for the middle of the first round, which is about where we slated him. I thought that would be among the least controversial of our rankings, but it became a running joke when people in the comments kept assuming that we were beginning to overrate Ritchie since he didn't show up between Picks 7 and 15, nor the Honourable Mentions.
Not so frequently asked: Where is Haydn Fleury?
Absolutely no heat in the comment boxes for nary a mention of Fleury until now. Three of us had him ranked. I don't think the Canucks are going to take a defenceman with the sixth pick, but, oh God, I hope he goes high and leaves somebody who develops into a first line player on the board.
Myself, Dimitri and Rhys met on Monday to record an 80-minute behemoth draft preview, mostly focusing on the top players in the draft, but looking at team needs, why NHL teams select the players they do, why most of them have it wrong, and I was sort of called out for not actually watching any Canucks games after, like, November.
Stream the podcast here or...
In a 10,000-word article published yesterday, Rhys determined that 13 NHL teams over the last decade plus, have not drafted well enough to even bother having a scouting department. Publicly-available information, like the NHL Central Scouting rankings as well as offensive numbers of 17-year-olds, could be better used to steer teams in the right direction.
My theory here is that you never want your team to draft a player regarded as a safe bet to make the NHL. While it's nice to have more NHLers than fewer NHLers, you also have to consider the player's future. You can pay pennies for a first rounder like Jamie Oleksiak, a defenceman who was taken high mostly because he's big, on the free agent market. The Leafs draft Frederik Gauthier in the first round last year, but are probably going to let Jay McClement go this summer because he's eminently replaceable.
Conversely, there are smaller, more talented players, and some of them may never even sniff a good AHL role, but if they can put everything together they had in junior to the pro ranks, you wind up with better players. Nobody is saying Sergey Tolchinski is going to be a better prospect than Kerby Rychel because he had more points in the OHL last season than Rychel, but Tolchinski cost the Carolina Hurricanes nothing but a contract. Especially in the later rounds, teams should spend more time swinging for the fences. Imagine the excitement had the Canucks taken Tolchinski, rather than Miles Liberati, in the seventh round last season.
Here are Sham's top 30, as posted by Rhys yesterday:
When you look at the rankings of players like Goldobin, Fabbri, Chase De Leo, Spencer Watson, Eric Cornel, Brett Pollock, Brendan Lemieux and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, this is where WOWYs would come in handy when evaluating prospects. How did Player X fare when he wasn't on the ice with Player Y?
Here are some players that I think could go later in the draft:
Andrew Magiapane: "Grady, he's not my guy, said Paul, I just asked you to check him out." As soon as I clicked through the Extra Skater CHL stats and noted the Barrie Colts winger wasn't even listed by CSS, this line from Moneyball came to mind. A couple of scouts I've talked to have said there's nothing wrong with Mangiapane, but he's 5'10" and maybe his skating is an issue? The Colts scored 65.8% of the goals when he was on the ice. Mangiapane contributed on close to 90% of Barrie's goals, and had 51 points in a third line role as a 17-year-old. He's not my guy, but I'm curious since he's had zero buzz whatsoever.
Joe Hicketts: When Dimitri and I went to Victoria this year, we got there as the babyfaced Hicketts returned to the lineup. Hell of a skater. He led all CHL 17-year-olds in Relative Goals For % this season and had 24 points in 36 games, which is a very good mark for a defenceman. A bit small, and fairly high-risk, high-reward. I like him as a third-round pick if he's available.
Jaedon Descheneau: I'm going to hammer the #FreeJaedon drum all through the 2014 draft, much like the 2013 draft. A year ago, in his draft year, Descheneau was 25th in the WHL in scoring. This year, he was 7th. He's been on a line creating synergy with Sam Reinhart for a couple of years now and he's been one half of one of the deadlier combinations in the league. Why was Jaedon passed over a year ago? He's 5'9". Descheneau had 17 points in the six-game first round series against Calgary, including a six-point Game 3. Jake Virtanen had 6 points in the series. Unlike Mangiapane, Descheneau is my guy.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Otherwise... enjoy the draft. I promise not to overthink the Canucks performance about every pick, but their first pick is going to be the subject of scrutiny for many years to come. Like I've said before, the Canucks have a lot of similarities with the 2012 Montreal Canadiens. I think they're good enough for the playoffs next year unless there are too many changes, and they won't be drafting this high for at least a few years. This is a great chance to get a player who can become a top six forward (or top line) within the next couple of seasons. Even if the return isn't immediate, the Canucks will get a pretty good hockey player unless they hilariously screw it up.
Bring it in, team. #BostonModel on three. One... two...