Wrapping up the NHL Entry Draft for the Vancouver Canucks

J.D. Burke
June 25 2016 02:52PM

The Vancouver Canucks entered the 2016 NHL Entry Draft with six picks to their credit and left the proceedings in Buffalo with just as many prospects to show for it. All this is to say that the Canucks left the wheeling and dealing for everyone else and settled in comfortably with the picks at their disposal.

Though they didn't necessarily swing for the fences with any of their limited shots, the Canucks feel as though they've garnered a good crop of well-rounded players that can contribute to their organizational health for years to come. Particularly with their fifth overall selection, which they spent on Finnish defenceman Olli Juolevi of the London Knights.

I would suggest, though, that looking strictly at their actions within the draft undersells the happenings in and around the Canucks for these last two days. Player transactions be damned, this club found a way to stay in the headlines from Thursday onward and don't show any sign of slowing down. It's a lot to keep up with, so I've done my best to procure all of it for you on the other side of the jump.

Wrapping up Day 1 of the NHL Draft for the Vancouver Canucks 

From Canucks General Manager Jim Benning discussing the possibility of pursuing Milan Lucic, Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban all the way to their eventual selection at fifth overall -- this post has you covered. There's also the looming specter of tampering charges that linger in the wake of those most candid comments.

Though there weren't many trades involving contracted NHL players, the first day of the Entry Draft wasn't without intrigue. Particularly Vancouver Canucks related intrigue.

The Columbus Blue Jackets shook the proverbial apple cart at third overall, taking Pierre-Lud Dubois. Consider that the hard right to the Canucks stomach, as much of what we heard in the lead up the draft suggested they coveted Dubois with the fifth overall pick. So too did they covet Olli Juolevi of the London Knights, and they were able to secure the budding Finnish defenceman with the fifth overall selection.

Vancouver Canucks Select Olli Juolevi Fith Overall

Juolevi posted 42 points in 57 games this season for the Knights, playing primarily on their top pairing and both phases of special teams. He's renowned mostly for his ability to complete an excellent first pass and transition play from his own end with ease. Juolevi might not have the highest ceiling among defencemen in this draft, but his hockey IQ distinguishes himself from the rest of this class and makes him an excellent player at both ends of the ice.

Three Reaches from the First Round of the NHL Draft

You know how the saying goes... you can't please everyone. I mean with the author of this post, Jeremy Davis, you usually can. Just not with the three picks he's highlighted as reaches -- a reach, of course, being a pick where the player selected goes much higher than his value suggests he should.

Day one (and round one) of the 2016 NHL Draft has come and gone, and 25 teams have added to their prospect pools. With 181 more players set to find teams today, I thought I'd pick through the first round and see who went off the board with their selections, as well as who got good value in their spot.

First up are three reaches from day one, teams that picked players well before they probably should have, leaving a bevvy of better players still available.

Three Steals from the First Round of the NHL Draft

Imagine everything I said for the previous article, except in reverse. It's Jeremy Davis, again, bringing you a list of players that were selected well below where they should've, based on rankings and their probability of success. Here's Davis on Ottawa selecting Brown at 11th overall...

Getting Logan Brown at 11th isn't quite as big as a win as the first two entries on this list, but it's still a solid victory for new GM Pierre Dorian and his staff. Given where Brown was ranked to end the season (somewhere between seventh 13th with an average of 9.7), 11th seems perfectly reasonable. Those who are high on Brown, however, are probably shocked that he made it out of the top ten. Dorian clearly wasn't willing to wait any longer, evidenced by the fact that he traded up from 12th to snag the Windsor Spitfires pivot.

Not everyone has been as high on Brown however. The division of opinions on Brown is likely due to the fact that his season itself was distinctly split. He was simply a different player in the second half of the season than he was in the first. Consider the fact that he was cut from the Ivan Hlinka U18 roster in the summer of 2015, then dominated the U18 World Championship tournament in the spring of 2016, looking like one of the best players on the ice.

Canucks Select William Lockwood with the 64th Overall Selection

The right-handed winger finished the UNDTP season with 33 points in 59 games in a middle six role. He then went to the U18 in North Dakota where he posted 7 points in 7 games. It's not surprising that the Canucks would have interest in Lockwood, as they have shown a propensity to target players who excel there, and Lockwood fits that mood. He showed very well for the United States.

When using pGPS, Lockwood has zero matches, so it's hard to get a read on what the changes are but given the Canucks obviously see something they like about Lockwood.

Johnston: Jim Benning can 'Expect a Penalty' for Tampering

Much has been made of Jim Benning's comments this week. Particularly the ones he made on TSN 1040AM radio regarding P.K. Subban and Steven Stamkos.

Though 29 other teams in the NHL have interest in the two star players, Benning is the only one to this point to mention them specifically by name and that's landed him in a bit of hot water. And while you can appreciate Benning's candour on this topic from a fan's perspective, much of what he said falls under the distinction of tampering. 

Unsurprisingly, it appears as though the league tends to agree with that assessment of the situation. Yesterday we learned that Benning was under investigation by the league for tampering. We've learned today, courtesy a Chris Johnston report, that the Canucks will be getting fined. The only question left is how much.

Canucks Select Cole Candella With the 140th Pick

Candella is an offensively minded defenceman, fitting in with what the Canucks (and most of the NHL) are currently looking for. He played in all situations for Hamilton this past season, and he excels at retrieving and rushing the puck up ice, and knows when to distribute the puck as he advances. Unfortunately, his passing accuracy can be hit or miss while he's moving, and this can be exacerbated if he is under pressure. When given time and space, he has the ability to make clean, long distance passes through sticks.

He has a good point shot, and though he didn't rack up many goals this season (just four in 37 games), his shot did afford him some assists as teammates swatted in plenty of rebounds.

Canucks Select Jakob Stukel 154th Overall 

This was Stukel's second year of eligibility, after being passed over in the 2015 draft following a disappointing season with the Vancouver Giants in which he managed only 16 points in 49 games. After being traded to the Calgary, Stukel's production exploded to just shy of a point-per-game. He was also a significant power play presence for the Hitmen, leading the WHL in regular season power play goals with 18.  

Stukel is definitely a project, but he has a good shot and possesses a bit of upside. I was able to watch Stukel in person twice this season and he was a standout on both occasions, where he was easily one of the fastest skaters on the ice. His speed, shot, and strong forechecking ability make for an enviable toolkit for a sixth-round pick. If they're lucky, perhaps the Canucks have a future third-line winger on their hands. 

Canucks Select Rodrigo Abols 184th Overall

Abols is no stranger to the Canucks organization. He preformed well enough at the Prospect Camp that the Canucks wanted to sign him, and thought about drafting last year. Abols totals this year were not great for a 20 year-old. Despite a hot start to the year, Abols finished with 20 goals and 49 points in 62 games. While his production seems solid, they are relatively mediocre numbers for a 20 year-old in the CHL. Abols has a pGPS of 2.6% out of 38 comparable players. 

You can read more about Abols from when he was invited to the prospect camp here, as well an early-season update here

Canucks Select Brett McKenzie 194th Overall

As a 19-year-old, McKenzie is a draft+1 player and as such carries an inherent risk relative to some of his younger peers. All the same, McKenzie's age, production and stature make for a 16.7% pGPS rating, which suggests he carries a sizeable probabilistic advantage of developing into a full-time NHL player, relative to your average seventh-round selection.

McKenzie is praised, primarily, for his contributions to the defensive zone. The Battalion used McKenzie primarily as a shutdown centre, too, which suggests that's an accurate assessment of his strengths. He can skate well, particularly for a player of his size at 6'2", and is considered one of the better players in the OHL in the faceoff circle.

Linden: 'We've Told Hamhuis to Expect to be a Free Agent'

Doesn't sound like Dan Hamhuis is coming back to the Vancouver Canucks. The club has apparently, at the very least, told Hamhuis that he will enter unrestricted free agency July 1st. Of course, some will point to this as poor asset management given the Canucks inability to secure any futures for their pending free agent defender. Then again, signing Hamhuis into his late-thirties might prove prohibitive to the Canucks ability to rebuild effectively several years down the road. It's the wise decision.

BUFFALO, NY – It certainly appears as if the Dan Hamhuis era is over in Vancouver. 

Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden all but confirmed that news Saturday at the completion of the second day of National Hockey League draft. Despite repeated suggestions from the hockey club over the past few months that there may be a way to resign Hamhuis, the Canucks have now informed the 33-year-old defenseman to be ready to hit the open market after six successful seasons in his home province.

“We’re still going through some things this week, but we’ve talked to his representative and said that he can expect to be a free agent,” Linden said. “We’ll see where we are, but we told him to go into it with that expectation.”

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Linden: 'we've told Hamhuis to expect to be a free agent'

Jeff Paterson
June 25 2016 01:11PM

BUFFALO, NY – It certainly appears as if the Dan Hamhuis era is over in Vancouver. 

Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden all but confirmed that news Saturday at the completion of the second day of National Hockey League draft. Despite repeated suggestions from the hockey club over the past few months that there may be a way to resign Hamhuis, the Canucks have now informed the 33-year-old defenseman to be ready to hit the open market after six successful seasons in his home province.

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Canucks Select Brett McKenzie With the 194th Pick

J.D. Burke
June 25 2016 12:44PM

The Vancouver Canucks used the second of their two seventh-round selections on overage winger Brett McKenzie of the North Bay Battalion in the OHL. Though McKenzie was unranked by most scouting organizations, the Canucks felt comfortable using the 194th overall pick on the defensive forward with size.

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Canucks Select Rodrigo Abols 184th Overall

Tyler Horsfall
June 25 2016 12:43PM

With the 184th overall pick, the Canucks selected a familiar face in Rodrigo Abols. Abols was invited to the Canucks' prospect camp last year, impressing both management and fans along the way. Unfortunately, due to the NHL's CBA, the Canucks were unable to sign Abols to a contract

Abols was unranked by both Central Scouting and ISS in the final rankings. However, Abols was ranked 121st out of North American skaters by Central Scouting for the midterm rankings.

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Canucks Select Jakob Stukel 154th Overall

Jackson McDonald
June 25 2016 11:39AM

  • jakob stukel 

With the 154th overall pick, the Canucks have selected Surrey native Jakob Stukel, a winger for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. 

Stukel was ranked 82nd among North American skaters by Central Scouting and 194th by ISS, so his ranking is generally in line with what you'd expect from a sixth-round selection. 

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