Canucks Deep Dive: 2015 Entry Draft

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 

CSS NA Hockey Prospectus Future Considerations McKeen Button Pronman
27 25 26 28 9 31
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
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
USHL 3.14
WHL 3.31
OHL 3.5
QMJHL 3.51

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

CSS NA Hockey Prospectus Future Considerations Button Pronman
41 53 58 55 67
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
2014-15   Acadie-Bathurst Titan    QMJHL  63  4 24 28 11%
2014-15    Canada U18   WJC-18  7  1 0 1

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

CSS EU FC Button Pronman
61 168 101 101
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
2014-15  Omskie Yastreby  MHL 35 3 16 19 0%
2014-15   Russia U18   WJC-18  5 3 3 6
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

ISS
170
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
2014-15  Sherbrooke Phoenix  QMJHL 63 14 26 40 16%

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


CSS NA ISS FC Button Pronman
108 169 127 79 126
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
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

CSS EU ISS FC Button Pronman
23 128 134 101 76
 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
2014-15   HC Trinec U20   Czech U20  24  10 17 27 13%
2014-15   HC Trinec   Czech  27 0 2 2 31%
2014-15   Czech Republic U18 (all)   International-Jr  5 4 3 7 50%

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

 SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PCS%
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. 

Conclusion 

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: 

PCS 2015

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: 

van draft 2015

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.  

  • Vanoxy

    It’s sad that because the Canucks refuse to tank for a great draft pick they now have to look at their plate of spam and pretend how it’s as good as steak.

    Most of these guys if not all will make it or stay in the NHL.

    Like the Seinfeld show, the Canucks are a show about nothing.

      • Spiel

        Well my comments were never about something because they were always about the Canucks.

        The Canucks are NOTHING, get it? LOL

        Ah, you wouldn’t get it, you’re a fan. 47 years and you guys still don’t get it. You purposely don’t get it and the Canucks will never get “it” either. Haha

          • Larionov18

            If a burger joint fed you burgers with rat poison and lies about what they put in their food all the time would you keep going back for more?

            You would and you want everyone to know how delicious those burgers are. You’re not ashamed of eating rat poison and you want everyone else to do the same, that’s the kind of person you are. Damn anyone who sees the truth.

            It’s all about you and your little delusional world and everyone who doesn’t believe that the emperor has new clothes must be wrong.

            No one is telling you not to spend your money on the Canucks but don’t you dare expect everyone to praise your habit as well.

            The fact that you sound so self entitled says you probably live downtown and you’re the type of person that thinks that every car in front of you is holding you up. Bingo!

          • Larionov18

            Ok, if you say you don’t live in Vancouver then it must be true cause god knows the net is full of nothing but truthers.

            You question about me being concerned for you makes me laugh. But if you want to think I’m concerned for you then it must be true in your little world too. LMFAO

        • Larionov18

          Are you trying to be tiresome or is it just some unavoidable aspect of your personality? It’s simple. Sports are soap operas for men (and some women). It’s about much more than just winning or losing or else everyone in North America would be a Blackhawks fan.

          Fans form an emotional attachment to teams and players. That part of enjoying the game is purely and wonderfully irrational – and always should be. Why are people so tribal? Why do so many fans cheer for their local team or the team they grew up watching? Don’t ask me I’m not a psychologist, but they do.

          Red Sox fans cheered for the Red Sox. Cleveland Brown fans cheered for the Browns. LA Clipper fans cheered for the Clippers. Oiler fans kept cheering for the Oilers. Why? Their teams were atrociously bad for long periods of time. Because its fun to hope. Its fun to cheer for the underdog.

          So I don’t give even a single fcuk about your taunts. I followed the Canucks through bad times and then through good times and I will continue to through the bumpy times ahead. It’s joyfully irrational and I love it.

    • Larionov18

      Must be an Oiler Fan. REO SPEEDWAGON…. And that must be your fav band….

      Only took Oilers 10 years of tanking to FINALLY get it right. Ederle, Hall, Yakapov, all those tanks and It worked. Go back to playing the lottery rather than working and when you get that 10 Buck ticket…… You earned it genius.

      Troll your way back to Oilers forum

      • Larionov18

        Why would I go to an Oilers forum to “troll” the Canucks?

        Should I go to a Canucks forum to “troll” the Oilers?

        BTW I think of the Oilers as another loser Canadian team so what are you going to say now?

        The more you try to shut the truth up the more you look like a paid liar.

        I guess you want your rat poison cake and you like to eat it too, right?

        • Larionov18

          What you don’t seem to get is that everyone here is tired of your man child act. If you have something constructive to say, we are all interested to read it, but your comments usually constitute Childish little rants.

      • WTF2

        Yeah but you can bet the high draft picks have a better chance of staying… the canucks have no such pick and they feel they do not need young stars, that they alone are above everything, that their way is the best way, which has failed miserably…miserably in almost 50 years.

        So please tell me you want another 50 years of the same, Please do.

      • Double Dees

        Linden And Bennings offseason grade.

        Look at how many comments u guys get. No one cares about ur prospects… Cuz u AINT got one. Virtanen barley scores in last yr of junior. What does that say? If he’s ur #1 prospect… Sad….

        A no experienced president and an assistant GM at best running the show??? You can’t really be hopeful can ya?

        And I don’t know what lame school u went to but U should double check what grades they give out. Failure.

  • Larionov18

    All in all I think there is reason for optimism based off of the last two drafts. Furthermore, we are seeing certain prospects picked by Gillis becoming a surprise after everyone had written off almost every pick from that era.

    What we need to see now is Benning start winning some trades. Not just “yeah it needed to be done and that was the best offer,” legitimately taking advantage of other teams. The surplus of expiring contracts that can be moved at this coming trade deadline will be a pivotal point of the franchise. Recouping at least another first round pick out of Vrbata/Hamhuise, as well as a series of 2nd and 3rd rounders may allow them to really fortify the support cast of the future of the team, or even trade up.

    And it will allow the team to sink to the depths needed to get picks that correspond to a 1A defensman and a dynamic offensive #1C.

    • Double Dees

      I think winning trades would get easier if Benning had more cap space. I would look towards next year, when he has a better idea as to how good the prospects are and when a few contracts (e.g. Hamhuis, Vrbata, Prust) expire.

  • WTF2

    To me it seems like Jasek and Brisebois have a chance to make the show in the long term. Not sold on Boeser. Nothing against him it’s just at first glance, he doesn’t appear to have his heart in the game.

  • Double Dees

    It occurred to me that the Canucks will have two guys with the most macho names in the world in their lineup soon: Brock and Bo. So manly.

    Benning has to be looking out for a Lance, Pierce or Rocco to fill out that rugged line.

    • Dirty30

      Better situation than McDavid who has to work on his response to “so, how do you like Edmonton?”

      You can teach a chimp to skate better, don’t know how you can teach anyone to like Edmonton.

    • Dirty30

      He needs to work on his skating because it is his weakest link compared to his shot, hockey sense, etc. At no point has he been called a bad or below average skater

      • Spiel

        Anyone who is drafted and wants to play in the NHL needs to keep working on skating, it is just some more than others. The video clips show that he does not have the best stride. No one is expecting this guy to step in next year.

        Remember, the draft is not about picking the best 18 year old player, it is about picking the best player at 25 years old. Give him time.

        Plenty of big time scorers were given the “can’t skate” label. Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille are at the top of that list. More recently there was Tyler Toffoli who was labelled as a scorer who lacked skating. He has turned in to a very good player.

  • Dirty30

    I like what Bosner brings in terms of skill and size, but I do wonder if he will ever actually play for the Canucks. At least in interviews he sounds very determined to get his degree.

    If the Canucks can’t talk him into forgoing the last 2 years and sign him, he goes back into the draft, or more likely he ends up following the trend of bigger name NCAA players and coming out as a free agent.

  • Spiel

    With Brisebouis CArmy are missing two points that Benning takes into consideration…

    1. He is a 17 yr old Captain, which shows his leadership skills and respect he gets from teammates and coaches.

    2. He is 6’2 and 175…. In 3 years, 6’2 200 will look a lot better.

    Dimitri is a flyer that guys on this forum like all the time. He is not as well scouted as the Junior kids, so with the small percentage possibility of a fourth round pick playing in NHL…. Why not!