Canucks Finish 2014 Entry Draft; Take Size and Not Much Else

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The Vancouver Canucks forewent anything resembling skill of talent in the late rounds of the entry draft, opting instead for size and grit by selecting Kyle Pettit of the Erie Otters and Mackenzie Stewart of the Prince Albert Raiders. Read past the jump for a look at these players and some thoughts on Vancouver’s 2014 entry draft.

Kyle Pettit

Pettit is a 6’4 4th line centre for the powerhouse Erie Otters. He had 24 penalty minutes in 53 games, so you can infer that he either plays a very disciplined game, or isn’t that physical for a kid his size. Here’s what McKeens hockey has to say about him:

A model of consistency last year, Petitt only missed one game however missed 15 this season to a shoulder injury .. a consummate two-way player, his value isn’t measured by points but by his attention to detail away from the puck and relentless work ethic .. a team player who buys in and does whatever is necessary to win games .. willingly blocked shots this season even when his team was up by five goals in some contests .. extremely effective at taking face-offs and would routinely take defensive zone draws, win them and skate hard to the bench for a change .. a decent skater for his size — his mechanics are not polished but show the potential to improve .. despite his size (6’4” and 190 pounds) he is not aggressive .. plays an honest game and while he doesn’t look for hits, he will use his size to lean on players down low .. lacks offensive zone awareness as he is always chasing the puck and possesses very little poise with it in his possession

With just 16 points in 120 career OHL games, Pettit is extremely, extremely unlikely to ever wear a Canucks jersey in any form other than rookie camp, and probably destined for a depth role in Kalamazoo. Truthfully, I’m not sure why you’d even gamble on a 4th liner with no offensive upside at the OHL level. You can find actual NHLers to fill the role that Pettit may potentially one day project to possibly fill for free on the open market.

Mackenzie Stewart

Mackenzie Stewart is a fantastic story. Born deaf, he didn’t start playing hockey until he was 12, after a series of surgeries allowed him to hear. It’s easy to cheer for guys like Stewart and it would be phenomenal to see him overcome tremendous odds to become an NHLer.

With all this being said, this is where the cold, harsh reality of professional hockey comes into play. Stewart was a bit defender on a very mediocre Prince Albert Raiders team, presumably drafted only because the WHL lists him at 6’5, and he had 10 fighting majors this past season. Like Pettit, he also doesn’t project to make any sort of NHL impact, and maybe he becomes the next Nathan McIver, but that’s unlikely.

Adding to this is that Stewart’s draft year was actually last year, and this was his 18-year old season. We’ve looked into this stuff before, and found that D men who don’t score at least 0.5 pts/GP in their draft+1 season are pretty much guaranteed to miss the NHL. So while a 7th round pick is unlikely to ever play an NHL game under optimal conditions, drafting a Mackenzie Stewart-type is hardly optimal.

The 4th-7th rounds are essentially a crapshoot, so I don’t really fault teams for taking home run swings at guys with tools, given that there’s no one else available. The problem is, there are almost always guys available. This year, the Canucks repeatedly passed on Spencer Watson, a guy who led the Ivan Hlinka U18 tournament in scoring, had more even strength points than Sam Reinhart and was one point back of Sam Bennett, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Leon Draisaitl, was 3rd in ES goals behind only Robby Fabbri and Jake Virtanen, and was 9th in the CHL and 1st on Kingston in ES Rel GF% at +14.7%.

There’s a not-insignificant chance that Watson would have been the most talented player the Canucks drafted other than Jake Virtanen, and that Watson quickly develops into a Brendan Gallagher-type top-6 forward… for the LA Kings, who took him 209th overall. Yes he’s small at 5’9, but as our friend Garret Hohl pointed out:

NHL teams repeatedly roll the dice on bigger coke machines, when it’s the smaller guys who can really play the game of hockey that consistently work out more often.

Other Canucks Army favourites that Vancouver passed on include Brayden Point (79th overall, Tampa Bay, 91 pts in 72 GP), Chase De Leo (99th overall, Winnipeg, 81 pts in 72 GP), Jaedon Descheneau (124th overall, St. Louis, 98 pts in 70 GP), Daniel Audette (147th overall, Montreal, 76 pts in 68 GP), and Vladimir Tkachev (Undrafted, 30 pts in 20 GP).

  • andyg

    Ufa this year.

    Some of the teams were thinking that the cap was headed to 73 million but is 69 so there may not be as much money to through around.

    This could help us with getting help at a reasonable rate.

  • Fred-65

    Overall, I like what Benning and Co did over the weekend .

    Kesler held the team hostage ala Lu, with only one team to negotiate with, so getting 3 NHLers and a first end pick was pretty good. I like that Benning said that we don’t want anyone that doesn’t want to be here. Addition by subtraction.

    Jake V will be a good one and to have the goalie depth that we have is a great asset. I’m sure Hiller or Miller will be a Canuck so we will be flush with goaltenders. Also size is important, especially if you are talking below the 2nd rnd of the draft. Chances of finding a St Louis are slim to none, so get big bodies that can be bottom six forwards and perhaps deveolpe into a true PF.

    Not sure about anyone eels out there, but O could feel the culture change. Swift decisive moves in the same direction and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 4 1st rounders over the last 2 yrs, plus salary cap space to acquire a forward or two could mean replenish the farm while also being competitive.

    • Fred-65

      Goota disagree with looking for size past the 2nd round. The chance of finding a StLoius type player in the later rounds is indeed slim. Most of these guys wont make the NHL. But the solution is not to give up looking. There are always hidden gems that turn into superstars and if you never look for them youll never find them. What is pointless though is using those picks to draft size and nothing else. Big guys who dont put up points in the minors will almost never make it to the NHL, especially not the 1st/2nd line. The best theyll do is bottom 6 grinders who are easy to pick up on the market. But elite talent in their primes almost never hit free agency or get traded. Thats what the Nucks need most of all and thats why I was disappointed by this draft.

      • Fred-65

        Wel how come he selected Fifth round, 126th overall: D Gustav Forsling (Linkoping Jr. Sweden) he’s a 5’10” defenseman.

        Believe it or not every team needs 4 lines and since the Cap came into being and the demands of greedy players the 3rd & 4th liners are going to be on the low end of any salry disribution. Before the Cap days you could spend to waht ever limit you want and put al stars on the 4th line those days have gone. So that bottom end is plodders

  • Fred-65

    How did Ray Ferarro decribe Vcr draft day …Benning hit it out of the ball park, he also said with out hesitation that Vey will play in Vcr this coming season and that he’s a terrific player….naw what the heck does Fararro know…he’s seen Vey for one thing. I was impressed with Bennings first draft…except maybe the last 2 picks but frankly their is some thing like a 5% chnace any of the late picks actually play in the NHL so why get your knickers in a knot. These last 2 darfts Vcr IMO have made out like bandits.

    Here’s another opinion on the Canucks day at the draft

    Vancouver Canucks
    The Picks

    First round, sixth overall: LW Jake Virtanen (Calgary, WHL)

    First round, 24th overall: C Jared McCann (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)

    Second round, 36th overall: G Thatcher Demko (Boston College, H-East)

    Third round, 66th overall: D Nikita Tryamkin (Yekaterinburg, Russia)

    Fifth round, 126th overall: D Gustav Forsling (Linkoping Jr. Sweden)

    Sixth round, 156th overall: C Kyle Pettit (Erie, OHL)

    Seventh round, 186th overall: D Mackenze Stewart (Prince Albert, WHL)

    The Grade: A+

    The Bottom Line

    Virtanen could be the best power forward from this draft and has every element a team wants from a big winger: size, speed, a heavy shot and a feisty edge. The fact he was picked by his hometown team made it an even easier choice for the Canucks. There’s some risk with his shoulder surgery, but the reward could be incredible.

    “We’re trying to change the culture of our team a little bit, and he’s another piece of the puzzle,” said new GM Jim Benning on the TSN broadcast.

    Having traded gritty two-way center Ryan Kesler earlier in the day (via The Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno) as posted on the National Post, the second pick of the first round was a potential replacement—although not right away—for that aspect of the forward corps. McCann was nearly a point-per-game player in his second year in the OHL but also boasts the kind of defensive responsibility teams crave out of their big men in the middle.

    Just to make sure everyone was impressed, Benning locked up the top goaltending prospect available in Demko in the second round.

    • Fred-65

      I think the Vey pick up will pay very good dividends. Benning took advantage of the Canucks depth and took a pretty good young center that could continue to develop .

      He was bottom of the depth chart because of youth and couldn’t be sent down with out going through waivers so Kings only chance was to get something for him. Look for Benning to take advantage more with these teams up against he cap. Also like the fact Willie is familia with these guys.

      Local guys and players familiar to the coach. Don’t have to go through intro process like last year. Figuring out who fits where.

  • andyg

    I have no issues with what has transpired here in the last few days. Hopefully we can pick up a piece or two in free agency, I just hope we don’t pay too much to get said pieces.

      • Fred-65

        It might be a below average crop of FAs but with buyouts and trades for salary cap, there are deals to be made for only money.

        Boston needs to resign Iggy so either Iggy walks or they trade a piece like Louis Erickson. I believe he has about 3 yrs left at 4.5 mil?? He played outstanding with the Sedins in 13 world champs…

        Also Errehoff was let go and he and Edler had their best seasons playing together. He wasn’t worth 10 yrs at 4 mil, but could be had for any where from 1-3 yrs at a reasonable price.

        Benning will have to shine at taking advantage of our cap situation vs some of the top teams against it. Chi needs a second line center, so may want to make room through trades…. Or Philly. Lots of teams in cap trouble, so now teams like Canucks can sit back and take offers.

  • andyg

    So we got rid of a malcontent and a player with chronic groin troubles. (Big contract)

    There is money to sign a ufa if they want and room for youth to make the roster. If they resign Santo and Horvat makes the roster then we have a solid fore lines. Several young players heading to Utica.
    Looks good to me.

  • andyg

    I was very impressed at your SHAM draft. If the Nucks were smart they would hire you to crunch the numbers all day long. I am not saying Moneyball is the only thing, but its like the personality tests, a good place to start.

  • Fred-65

    Does anyone know what this team is doing anymore?

    I have no clue. After watching them trade away a 2nd line centre for scraps, a tough mins top 4 dman for peanuts – i am utterly lost.

    Then they produce a draft like the one i just witnessed. It seems familiar cause i’ve witnessed it for the last 5+ years (minus last summer).

    the more things change, the more they stay the same with this team. It’s just ugly to witness.

    • andyg

      I think it might be ugly to witness because you’re an idiot and a charter member of WhinerNation. Congrats.

      Kesler, essentially, gave the Canucks 1 team. 1. Blackhawks were over the cap and didn’t have much room or a lot of young talent in the farm either. So, they had to either make a deal with the Ducks or keep a cancer in the dressing room. I like what they did. He’s worth way more but you can go and b!tch about it to Gillis and Kes; Canucks were handcuffed.

      Garrison has a NTC and is overpaid. Nice to get his contract off the books and get some cap room.

      I have a feeling you’re lost on lots of areas…

  • stinkpickle

    I quite liked most of our picks. Our top 3 picks are excellent based on all of the reports. I think Linden Vey is a solid acquisition and is NHL ready.

    I get how people are wanting and skilled guy and I was hoping for Ivan Barbashev in round 2 but St. Louis took him before our 50th pick came around. So, not a bad move to deal it to the Kings for Vey (who knows if the Canucks would’ve taken him if he slid to pick 50).

    I like the Nikita Tryamakin pick. So-so risk and high reward move there.

    Kyle Pettit played behind a couple of NHL prospects so the Canucks are gambling with this pick. I don’t know about this one but I’m not scouting these guys so…Go Canucks! Go Kyle!

    Not a huge fan of the Stewart pick but it’s a crap shoot at this point. He’s a project and may never make it but you never know. Watson is an interesting pick by the Kings but he’s hardly a lock to make the bigs.

    Excellent first half of the draft and then the Canucks start to gamble. C’est la vie.

  • stinkpickle

    I am not normally one of the “draft more WHLers” ilk, but I do believe that a team should have an edge in knowledge of local junior talent. However, I don’t think that should be as much of an advantage in the first few rounds, as the scouting is so extensive. I don’t like hearing that being local is a plus for drafting. It has no bearing on talent. Because of that, I do question the Virtanen pick, but have fingers crossed that he pans out. I am more disappointed by the later round selections of larger, or older, and less skilled players. This is where the Canucks’ local scouting should come into play. I’m referring to Joe Hickets from the Victoria Royals, who is an undersized, but tough D-man who scored at about a 0.8 ppg clip this season. Some dude named Cam Charon wrote an article about him earlier this season, which you can read here,https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/buzzing-the-net/return-defensively-talented-yet-small-joe-hicketts-provides-203628102.html
    Homegrown talent that could have been gambled on in the seventh round. Instead, it is what it is.

  • Fred-65

    I blame Gillis and his strategy of sacrificing skill for size and drafting 19 yr-olds. The Canucks shouldn’t have let Gillis make the picks this draft…

  • Graphic Comments

    Interesting piece of info regarding average size (I assume he means height as the kids will put on weight) of a draft pick vs NHL.

    I’d be curious to seen an analysis of # of NHL games played by draft picks in the top and bottom 10 percentile.