Canucks 2015 NHL Draft: 6 Months later

The NHL Entry Draft is where teams are built, and by all accounts at the time, the Canucks walked away from this past draft with a decent crop of youngsters despite not having a second round pick. Since we are now 6 months after the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at who they selected and how they’ve done since June.

Also, I looked at the players that the Canucks skipped on, which are included in the ‘notable passes’ section for each player. (*note: these are all players picked after said player, and before the Canucks next pick). They aren’t always players that the Canucks should’ve picked over their own pick, but definitely, players to keep an eye on going forward.

With MoneyPuck and Josh leaving Canucksarmy, we are unable to use the PCS system that was used before the draft, here is what it looked like right after the draft:

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The 2015 NHL Entry Draft was a draft where gaining as many picks as possible would’ve been a very good plan. The Toronto Maple Leafs followed this plan and ended up with nine picks while the Canucks had to trade away Eddie Lack and Patrick McNally to get back up to seven picks. With that being said, let’s dive in.

Brock Boeser (23rd overall – 1st round)

I will be the first to admit that I don’t follow the USHL very closely, so like many Canucks fans, I wasn’t sure what the Canucks had in Boeser. That ignorance allowed an open mind when taking an in-depth look into Boeser. The now deceased PCS looked very favourably on Boeser while scouting experts like Shane Malloy and Corey Pronman agreed that Boeser likely went later in the round then he probably should’ve.

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Boeser possesses a lethal shot, above average skating and seems to have a knack for being in the right spot offensively. Similar to many offensive players like himself, Boeser does need to round out his 200-foot game and work on being better in physical board battles. He has been working on his defensive game at the University of North Dakota and appears to be quickly working on this ‘weak’ part of his game. After the top 15 picks, you are usually looking for a player with fewer flaws and more upside. Boeser fits that perfectly, as he has the skill set to be a very good NHL scorer and the areas he needs to work on are very coachable. 

The Burnsville, Minnesota native will look to have a  good World Juniors and then return to the University of North Dakota with hopes of challenging for the NCAA title. I would expect Boeser to return to the NCAA next year, and likely the year after, and that isn’t a bad thing. Boeser is in the top 10 of multiple NCAA rookie categories and can only go up from here, so continuing to develop at the highly regarded UND is not a bad thing.

Notable passes

Travis Konecny (OHL – 45 points in 29 games) – Smaller centre who is currently playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Selected with the 24th overall pick by Philadelphia.

Anthony Beauvillier (QMJHL – 41 Points in 21 games) – A Canucksarmy favourite is tearing up the QMJHL after being a late cut for Islanders training camp. Selected 29th overall by New York Islanders.

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Grade: A

Guillaume Brisebois (66th overall – 3rd round)

As we all know, Brisebois was the player taken with the pick acquired in the Eddie Lack trade and Jim Benning has suggested that if he had received a second round pick, he would’ve taken Brisebois anyways. Guillaume Brisebois agreed to an entry-level deal earlier this month, so it’s clear that Canucks management is quite high on Brisebois. Brisebois was ranked in the mid-forties on most pre-draft rankings, so the Canucks being able to snag him early in the third round is a good thing.

With that being said, the St Hillaire native hasn’t been putting up big offensive numbers but that has more to do with the Acadie-Bathurst Titans than it does for Brisebois. The Titans are currently the second worst offensive team in the QMJHL with their leading scorer currently 31st in scoring. Brisebois plays big minutes, in all situations and drives the play regularly. When he does score, it’s usually a pretty nice goal, like this goal from  last month:

Brisebois was never going to be a ‘home run’ 3rd round pick for Jim Benning, it was always going to be a safe pick with a higher chance of working out but low upside. Brisebois is currently first in defenceman scoring for the Titans and has been a part of 19% of their goals. He does have 15 points (5-10-15) in his last 17 games, so he has been trending upwards.

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Notable passes

Martins Dzierkals (QMJHL – 33 points in 26 games) – Taken by Toronto with the 68th overall pick, Dzierkals moved to the QMJHL this year after playing in the MHL (Russia Junior) and Latvia. Did very well at the U18 last summer, so would not be surprised if he was on GM Jim Benning’s list for a later pick.

Vili Saarijarvi (OHL – 19 Points in 28 games) – Saarjarvi played for Green Bay in the USHL last year, so would’ve played against Canucks prospect Boeser. So far, looking like another savvy pick by Detroit. Currently playing for Team Finland at World Juniors.

Grade: C+

Dmitry Zhukenov (114th overall – 4th round)

Without a doubt, Dmitry Zhukenov caught Jim Benning’s eye with his performance at the 2015 U18 World Championships where he had 6 points in 5 games. After being drafted by the Canucks, he was selected 10th overall in the CHL import draft by Chicoutimi. 

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Zhukenov started on the wing and had a bit of a slow start to his career in North America. He was moved to centre on October 4, and since then has 30 points in 28 games. Although Zhukenov only has 9 goals this year, where he is scoring them is impressive:

Zhukenov goals

Zhukenov is getting to the ‘dirty areas’ to score his goals.

The Omsk, Russia native will need to add size and strength to have a chance in the AHL, let alone the NHL. But Zhukenov has been trending in the right direction since being taken in June and will be fascinating to watch. Some of the ‘notable passes’ below may end up being better picks, but the Canucks were not far off with this selection.

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Notable passes

Conor Garland (QMJHL – 80 points in 33 games) – Taken by Arizona nine picks later, Garland has been downright dominating the QMJHL this year after putting up 129 points last year. Garland is only 5’8″, thus, he was passed over in the 2014 draft, then taken 123rd overall in his D+1. But he oozes talent and competes every shift, and Arizona seems to think that he may just make it after signing him to an ELC last week.

Dmytro Timashov (QMJHL – 53 Points in 29 games) – Another small forward who is tearing up the QMJHL. Taken by Toronto with the 125th overall pick, the young Swede leads the Quebec Ramparts by 13 points even though he is at the World Juniors. 

Grade: C+

Carl Neill (144th overall – 5th round)

After being skipped over in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Canucks selected Carl Neill late in the 5th round and it is slowly looking like a good gamble. For comparison’s sake, Neill had 40 points in 66 games last year, compared to 3rd round pick Brisebois’s 28 points in 63 games. Neill was ranked 170th for the 2015 NHL entry draft, so GM Jim Benning did take him a little ahead of where he could’ve gone but he obviously sees the potential and Canucks fans are starting to see it too.

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The Sherbrooke Phoenix live and die with their first pairing of Neill and San Jose Sharks second-round pick Jeremy Roy. Honestly, the Phoenix have the Roy/Neill pairing are out there for every second shift with their 2nd and 3rd pairings fighting over the rest of the ice time. (They were split on Monday night against Quebec). Neill does need to work on his skating and decision making but they aren’t awful. His ability to drive and control the play usually makes up for these weaknesses. Neill also has that lovely ‘intangible’ called leadership as he is the captain of the Phoenix.

When you get into the 5th round, taking risks is the name of the game. Generally, all the players available are flawed in some way, whether that be a lack of size, weak skating or compete level. Betting that Neill will be able to improve his skating enough to be a professional was the right call at this point in the draft. 

Notable passes

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Luka Opilka (G – OHL – 17-3-2, 2.40 GAA, 0.918 SV%) – A goalie who played in the USHL, took a different route and now plays for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. Was cut from the USA World Junior team this year, but should be in the conversation next year.

Grade: A

Adam Gaudette (149th overall – 5th round)

Like Boeser, Adam Gaudette was drafted from the USHL, and was already committed to the NCAA. Gaudette was taken 5 picks after Neill and is now attending Northeastern University. As I mentioned above about Neill, at this point in the draft, every player is flawed and it’s about trying to navigate around those flaws. I’ll be honest, there isn’t a lot of information about Gaudette but to summarize his play, he is a hard working player who plays a 200-foot game. Although the old PCS didn’t look favourably on Gaudette, you can understand why he might be attractive to have on your team. 

I don’t necessarily think he is worth using a draft pick on, where inviting him to a development camp and then keeping tabs may have been a more prudent way to go about things. He will likely spend the full four years at University to earn his degree and then maybe try his hand at professional hockey.

Notable passes

Andrew Mangiapane (OHL – 35 points in 24 games) – A D+1 eligible player who put up 104 points in 68 games for the Barrie Colts last year. Would’ve been a more worth while gamble compared to Gaudette. 

Grade: C

Lukas Jasek (174th overall – 6th round)

The Lukas Jasek pick makes up for the Adam Gaudette pick.

A player that the PCS rating looked very favourably on, and ranked 23rd for European skaters by NHL central scouting, it’s still amazing that the Canucks were able to snap him up this late in the draft. Jasek has continued to play in the Czech men’s league this year where he is usually playing fourth line duties. He was assigned to the junior team in November and put up 16 points in 6 games before coming back up.

Jasek was a late cut for the Czech World Junior team after disappointing summer and winter camps with them. It isn’t the end of the world because even being in the conversation is a good thing for a 6th round pick but making the team would’ve helped his development and allowed Canucks fans to see him play. I would expect him to make the team next season as a 19-year-old.

The Trinec, Czech Republic native has high-end hockey IQ, good skating, and a decent shot. He has all the tools to be a good player in North America, and there are rumours that the Canucks want him to come over and play in the CHL next season. Which I don’t think will be the best development route, as playing against men in the Czech Republic probably is the best place for him until he tries his hand at AHL hockey.  

Keep an eye on him, he has all the makings of a late round steal for the Canucks.

Notable passes

Nikita Korostelev (OHL – 21 points in 32 games) – Selected by Toronto with the 185th overall pick. Big bodied player who can play in all situations and make his chances count.

Gustav Bourannan (OHL – 17 points in 33 games) – Selected by Minnesota in the mid 7th round – smart and well rounded defenceman who is playing on the top pair for Sault St Marie.

Grade: B+

Tate Olson (210th overall – 7th round)

Taken with the pick acquired for prospect Patrick McNally, Olson is a well-rounded defenceman who doesn’t do anything flashy.

Tate Olson is famously remembered for the guy that Canucks prospect Jake Virtanen sent into the bench.

Joking aside, Olson looks to be a decent bet by the Canucks with the second to last pick in the draft. Curtis Joe at Elite Prospects summarizes Olson’s game well: 

A solid yet competitive defenseman that elevates his level of play at the game’s key moments. Plays safe and always makes the high-percentage play. Never takes himself out of the unfolding play and gets involved in all areas of the ice. Strong physically and asserts himself through winning board battles. Excellent transition game and makes seeing eye passes look easy. His composed demeanor lets him overlook some dumb penalties that would be very easy to take; that being said, he isn’t afraid to stand up for himself or teammates. All-in-all, a determined, hard-working defenseman that makes all of the right decisions in helping his team win.

Olson is already one point from matching his point total from last season. He likely will never develop into a top four defenceman but if the Canucks are able to snag a 5/6/7 defenceman with the 210th overall pick, then that’s a win.

Notable passes

No one.

Grade: C+

All in all, 6 months later and the Canucks still look to have done well with their draft pick haul. Ideally, the Canucks would’ve used their Gaudette pick to take more of a risky choice like Garland, Timashov or Korostelev but thats not something vilify them for. 

Without the lovely PCS rating to help me out, overall I would give the Canucks a solid B on this draft.

  • TrueBlue

    Nice article.

    I would have liked to see the position played, weight and height of each player, but I can find that elsewhere. Brisebois is also the captain of his team at a very young age compared to his team mates. This counts for something.

    Carl Neill is a machine. T1000 I believe.

    Also, our second round pick was turned into Sven Baertschi.

  • Pretty interesting that Toronto had one of the notable passes in almost every round.

    It’s nice that after a decade of terrible depth picks, over the past few years the Canucks seem to have started taking some good gambles – guys like Jordan Subban, Cole Cassels, and Frank Corrado in the last couple years under Gillis, and Jasek, Brisebois, and Neill under Benning. Having a few of those guys work out is a big part of what makes a competitive team – fingers crossed on a couple of these guys becoming NHL regulars.

  • Brock has been playing very well in a ND system that has produced some very very good players. The fact that is is making a similar impact as a freshman is very encouraging.

    Bruise outs may not be a point scoring machine, but who is to say you have to be on D? Tanev impacts a game with minimal Offensive output. He was an 18 yr old C and now 19. I like his pick and think he will make a good pro.