June 13 2016 05:00PM
When the Vancouver Canucks acquired Markus Granlund for Hunter Shinkaruk in advance of the February 29th trade deadline, it was in large because of his play away from the puck. Particularly in the defensive zone.
A player can be taught to play defence, but the Canucks might not have the time to live with the growing pains that come along with it. Count those among the many reasons the Canucks felt the need to trade Shinkaruk's long-term potential for offence to secure an established defensive stud. For the Canucks, who sported the league's third-worst goal differential at even strength, there's value in that.
Buyer beware though because if Granlund's first 16 games with the Canucks are any indication, they've been duped. Vancouver was outscored 13-8 at even strength with Granlund on the ice in that span. I'd caution against looking too far into so small a sample, but that's disconcerting all the same. Should the Canucks expect more of this going forward?
June 13 2016 03:00PM
The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is rapidly approaching, so it's time things got serious. The Vancouver Canucks currently have in their possession the fifth overall selection and it's widely believed they will spend it on a forward. If one was arguing from the stance of positional need, the argument could be made for a defenceman. Most scouts and analysts believe two high-end forwards in particular separate themselves from the best defencemen available to the Canucks, though.
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Pierre-Luc Dubois and London Knights Matthew Tkachuk are both in the conversation to be the 4th overall pick behind the consensus top three - Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Both players are worthy of the 4th overall pick. No matter what, one of them will be available at 5th overall.
Given his performance in the OHL Playoffs and Memorial Cup, it's fair belief that Tkachuk will be the 4th overall selection -- maybe even third. There's no way to know for sure though until it happens, so let's examine the possibility the Canucks are picking between the two.
June 13 2016 01:00PM
Jamie McGinn, who was acquired by the Anaheim Ducks from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline provided depth scoring and sandpaper during his short stay in Southern California.
Of course, the Ducks short playoff run, ended by the Nashville Predators in the first round, meant that McGinn's stay will likely be a short one. That doesn't take away from what McGinn provided the Ducks. He continued to play an under the radar game that makes him a valuable commodity in the hockey world. A commodity that the Canucks would be wise to, at the very least, kick tires on.
June 13 2016 11:00AM
As we approach the NHL Entry draft, a lot of focus is on the top 75 or so players, and rightfully so. Those are the players that teams are hoping to build their team around for years to come. But good teams make hay in the later rounds on dice rolls and role players to provide depth.
The key is to find value outside the first few rounds that other teams can't. The Canucks did extremely well last year with Lukas Jasek, Tate Olson, Carl Neill and Dmitry Zhukenov. Although it's still early, the value of those players exceeded the draft picks spent on them.
Using some of the newly developed draft analytics at our disposal, we'll try to find a few players that fit the bill going into this year's draft.
June 13 2016 08:00AM
For the majority of this season, London Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi was in contention for the mantle of "best defenceman available" at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, duking it out with fellow OHL blueliners Jakob Chychrun and Mikhail Sergachev. Unreal performances in international tournaments drew a wealth of attention his way, and playing on the Memorial Cup winning London Knights certainly didn't hurt.
At the end of the year, with the draft fast approaching, Juolevi ranks as the third best defenceman available, according to our rankings. However, the situation is still fluid enough that he could go at any time and could very well be the first defenceman to have his name called on June 24th.