It’s been an interesting few weeks for Canucks fans, with the trades, contract extensions, and head office moves seeming to grab headlines and overshadow what was a pretty solid draft for the Canucks.
I’ll break down the Canucks 2015 draft class in more depth after the jump.
Brock Boeser – RW – 1st Round, 23rd Overall
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|2014-15||Waterloo Black Hawks||USHL||57||35||33||68||27%|
Rhys did a nice overview on Boeser following the selection. As we can see in the scouting profiles, he’s a dynamic offensive threat with high-end scoring potential that needs to work on his skating and defensive game. At 23rd overall, Brock Boeser was picked right about were he was expected to go in terms of both PCS (27% – ranked 31st overall) and consensus experts. In a first round which saw teams make a number of eyebrow raising picks, from my perspective there’s a lot to like about Boeser.
At first glance, Boeser’s 35 goals, 68 point season may seem underwhelming in comparison to some of his CHL peers, but he actually was 3rd in league scoring, as the USHL tends to have lower scoring overall than the three CHL leagues:
|Goals per Game|
Boeser’s Waterloo Black Hawks were a middle of the pack offensive team (3.18 goals per game), and Boeser contributed a pretty impressive 19% of team goals and 37% of team points. Those percentages compare pretty favorably to some of the top names in this draft class, such as Mitch Marner (13%/47%), Dylan Strome (11%/29%), Matthew Barzal (6%/42%), and Timo Meier (13%/43%). Statistically, he’s a worthy choice in the range of a number of worthy choices.
Boeser will be attending the University of North Dakota next year, and should at least get an invite to the US National team’s World Junior camp.
This was a first round were some teams were given gifts (Jets) and lots of teams reached (Boston x 3).Vancouver didn’t reach, but didn’t get ridiculously lucky like teams picking after Boston. They just picked a really good prospect in Brock Boeser.
Guillaume Brisebois – D – 3rd Round, 66th Overall
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As Rhys noted in his introduction to Brisebois, we were a bit disappointed when he was selected 66th overall, given PCS favorites like Ryan Pilon and Mitch Vande Sompel were on the board at the time. His PCS was a bit underwhelming (11%), where we’d normally like to see it come in around the 16% mark for a selection at this stage of the draft.
However, when you dig a bit deeper, there’s actually a lot to like about this selection. First, Brisebois’ Acadie-Bathurst team has the second worst offense (2.3 goals per game) of all 60 CHL teams, which adds perspective to his 28 point in 63 game season. Brisebois actually contributed to 19.3% of the Titan’s points. According to CHLstats.com, Brisebois ranks 6th among 17 year-old QMJHL defenders, just ahead of Thomas Chabot who went 18th overall to Ottawa.
When thinking about Brisebois’ PCS percentage it’s worth trying to account for him playing on one of the weakest offensive team’s in the QMJHL. One method would be project Brisebois’ point totals assuming that his team mates scored at a shooting percentage consistent with the QMJHL league average 11.5% shooting percentage, whereas the Titan’s only managed 8.6%. We can estimate that the impact of having his teammates convert at a league average rate would result in an additional 7 assists for Brisebois. A 35 point year would have equated to a PCS of 15%. This wasn’t the highest PCS player available, but is right in range with what we’d expect for a 66th overall pick, and does shed some light as to why he was ranked so much higher by our consensus experts than he was by PCS.
It’s also interesting to note that Brisebois was the first of a number of draft selections who played at the WJC-18 tournament. This is an interesting strategy, as obviously these players left a good impression with Benning, but more importantly, they have cleared a hurdle in terms of their countries selection committee to get invited to the tournament in the first place.
The Canucks went into the draft with weak prospect depth on defense, so Brisebois is a nice addition that could pay dividends for the Canucks down the road.
Dmitri Zhukenov – C – 4th Round, 114 Overall
|2014-15||Russia U18 (all)||International-Jr||16||6||10||16||26%|
Zhukenov is a pretty interesting pick for the Canucks at 114th overall. As we detailed following the selection, his PCS numbers aren’t really that impressive, as its been pretty rare for a MHL player who posts only 0.54 points per game to go on to any sort of success at the NHL level. To provide context, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov scored at a 1.41 points-per-game rate at the same age, while Canucks Army favorite Evgeni Svechnikov scored at a 0.93 points-per-game rate as a 16 year-old.
However, we know Benning spent considerable time scouting international tournaments, including the WJC-18, where Zhukenov shined. In 16 international games for Russia last year, where Zhukenov displayed pretty slippery offensive instincts en route to 16 points in 16 games. His international play translates to a PCS of 26%. Close comparables in his international cohort include players like Alex Steen, David Krejci, Ondrej Palat, and Michael Granlund. Not to say he’ll turn into a player of this calibre, but it does explain why Benning thought highly enough of him to select him in the fourth round, which is where both Craig Button and Corey Pronman expected him to go.
Zhukenov was selected 10th overall in the QMJHL import draft and will make his North American debut next year with Chicoutimi.
Carl Neill – D – 5th Round, 144 Overall
This was Neill’s second year of draft eligibility after being passed over at the 2014 draft. He saw his offensive production almost double this year (22 points to 40 points), which we see reflected in a fairly promising 16% PCS. Normally, we’d expect players selected in this range to have a PCS of around 8%, so this looks like a pretty strong bet for the Canucks. For a prospect pool deficient in defensive talent, the addition of Neill’s strong two-way game and size (6’3″, 214lbs) was a good bet at this stage in the draft.
Adam Gaudette – C – 5th Round, 149 Overall
|2014-15||Cedar Rapids RoughRiders||USHL||50||13||17||30||1%|
Gaudette was a guy that a lot of scouts had ranked going sooner than he did, but overall his numbers aren’t that impressive scoring 30 points in 50 games for Cedar Rapids in the USHL. He ranked 8th overall in team scoring, on what was a relatively potent Roughriders team.
It should be noted that the USHL has improved immensely in recent years in terms of being a legitimate NHL feeder league. In 2015, there were more players drafted from the USHL than the QMJHL, a trend we’ve seen over the past few years. Over time, we’ll see what percentage of those players will turn into NHLer’s, but for now there’s a good chance that Gaudette’s PCS understates his potential. There was only one player in his PCS cohort, Craig Smith, who has gone on to have an over 200 game NHL career.
He’ll be playing for Northeastern in the NCAA next season, so hopefully we see some signs of progress, although at this stage he looks like the weakest pick of the draft for the Canucks, in my opinion.
Lukas Jasek – RW – 6th Round, 174 Overall
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Lukas Jasek may very well be the biggest late round steal in the 2015 NHL draft. He played the majority of the year in the Czech elite league, which is very impressive as he was one of the younger players in the 2015 draft class. His PCS based on his Czech elite league comparables was 31%, despite scoring only 2 points in 27 games in limited minutes. His offensive prowess was far more evident in his 24 games played at the U20 level where he scored 27 points, and his play on the international circuit. As with Zhukenov and Brisebois, it’s likely Jasek was identified by Benning based on his strong play at the WJC-U18 tournament, where he helped the Czech Republic win a silver medal. His closest comparable based on international play? Nino Neidereitter.
Tate Olson – D – 7th Round, 210 Overall
|2014-15||Prince George Cougars||WHL||68||5||19||24||8%|
With the second to last pick in the NHL draft, you really shouldn’t expect all that much, and the best course of action is usually to select the highest percentage player you can. In Tate Olson, the 6’3 defender from the Prince George Cougars, the Canucks did well in accomplishing that. With only 8% of Olson’s closest peers going having gone on to successful NHL careers, he’s definitely a long-shot. However, we’d typically expect a player with only a 4% chance at this stage in the draft, so he’s definitely a solid choice among the players still on the board.
Below is a graph of the PCS for all players selected in the 2015 NHL draft, with a trend line indicating expected PCS. Typically, we’d like to see the Canucks pick players with an actual PCS better than the trendline:
We can gauge how the Canucks draft was by calculating the difference between a players actual PCS and the expected PCS of the draft position according to the trendline above. The is plotted on the graph below, with the bubble size representing overall PCS (PCSO) which is calculated by multiplying PCS% and PCS Points-per-game:
On an overall basis, the Canucks made a number of strong bets throughout the draft, typically selecting players with a PCS equal or better than should be expected at the draft position they were taken, particularly Lucas Jasek. On an overall basis, I think Canucks fans can be pretty pleased with how the team fared at the 2015 draft.