3 Players the Vancouver Canucks Could Select 5th Overall

The NHL’s Draft Lottery has come and gone and the Vancouver Canucks landed exactly where they were most likely to, at fifth overall. Put in those terms, it’s nowhere near as devastating as many Canucks fans, myself included, are taking the news of today’s events.

Besides, it’s not like there won’t be many great players available at fifth overall. Best of all is that there’s a tonne of discretion involved once you get into that range. Ask any two scouts to fill out the fourth to tenth overall picks and you’re likely to get two very different answers.

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I’m no scout, but I’ve followed many of the highly sought after prospects in this year’s draft and have a list of my own in the works. Nowhere near ready to publish it in full, but I can provide hair insight into what I’m working with by detailing three such prospects that the Canucks are likely to take in their newly resided fifth overall spot in the upcoming draft.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

The Edmonton Oilers would have to make a terrible mistake to afford the Canucks an opportunity to select Dubois. Then again, given the Oilers history at the draft, that’s not outside the realm of possibility. Dubois is an excellent prospect and one that Canucks general manager Jim Benning has scouted extensively this season. I’m sure he’d be thrilled at the prospect.

Dubois is one of the most versatile prospects in this draft, as he’s played both center and left-wing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, since joining them in the 2014-15 campaign. His statistical profile is impressive, as Dubois was a near-point-per-game player in his rookie campaign, with 45 points in 54 games. This season he took that production to yet another level, shattering the point-per-game mark with 99 points in 62 games.

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As the season’s wound down, the scouts I’ve spoken to have grown increasingly fond of Dubois, which makes sense given his meteoric rise up Central Scouting’s draft rankings – jumping from about seventh to first overall among North American skaters. At 6’3, Dubois has an NHL ready body and should be physically mature enough to compete as soon as the 2017-18 season – though I wouldn’t rule out Dubois making the jump next fall. 

Olli Juolevi

If there’s any one reason the Canucks brain trust won’t be overly upset with today’s results is that it grants them licence to select a defenceman of their choosing – in all likelihood, it’s going to be forwards across the board going one through four. The Canucks have gone on record (although, that was in the middle of the season) as wanting to take a defenceman in this draft.

One of the worst kept secrets in hockey is Benning’s affection for Olli Juolevi of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. Just as poorly guarded is the order in which the Canucks have placed the high-end defenders in this year’s draft. Spoiler: Juolevi is at the top of the list.

Though I might quibble with the Canucks rankings, and Juolevi as the highest defender in particular, it’s an entirely defensible and sound position. Much like Dubois, Juolevi is seen as a late riser in scouting circles. His hugely successful showing at the IIHF U-20 World Hockey Championships helped his stock, as he led the Finnish team from the blue line with nine assists in seven games. In 57 games with the Knights, Juolevi has 42 points this season.

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Mikhail Sergachyov

Though it often goes unnoticed, Benning’s mentioned Sergachyov’s name a few times and it’s always positive. Which is to say that the Canucks think very highly of Sergachyov. With good reason. He brings everything you could want from a defenceman to the table.

Though he’s a relatively modest 6’2, Sergachyov plays much larger than his frame might indicate. He’s a smooth-skating defenceman, that can skate well, pass well and do everything in between. Sergachyov was the first-round pick of the Windsor Spitfires in the CHL Import Draft. In his first season with the Spitfires, Sergachyov is firing at a near-point-per-game pace, with 57 points in 67 games.

If the Canucks are dead-set on taking a defenceman at the fifth overall spot, Sergachyov should be their guy. He makes the game look effortless and I’ve heard him compared to Mattias Ohlund by a very well-respected scout in the hockey community. Landing another Mattias Ohlund would be pretty alright. 

  • andyg

    I’d be happy with any of the top three defensemen, its hard to really differentiate amongst them. I would be really happy with any of them joining our blue line.

    The only caveat would be if Tkachuck fell down to 5th, he scores and isn’t shy about going to the front of the net….don’t underestimate how valuable that is compared to the Nylanders or Ehlers of the drafts we’ve been in. He gets some flack for being on a line with Marner and Dvorak but it’s not like he’s a total plumber out there.

    And Benning really values players that go to the front of the net, we’ve seen that with the selections of Virtanen, McCann, and Boeser. None of them are shy about going to the tough areas to score where others (Shinkaruk) were more perimeter players.

    • TrueBlue

      I saw Tkachuck at the prospects game and was not impressed. I spoke with a scout friend who was there and he said that he agrees that he is slow a foot and benefits greatly from his line mates in junior. I would not take him 5th and frankly would not take him in the top ten. One of the top dmen would be a much better use of this pick.

  • andyg

    Ok we have a need for defence but the top defence men in the league are not usually first rounders or are near the bottom of the round.

    We need to replace the sedins and have sold secondary scoring until they drop to a second line role.

    Not taking a forward with our first pick would be a mistake.

    • Spiel

      I’m not convinced on this line of thinking that defense can be taken later.

      Sure Subban and Weber were 2nd rounders, but Doughty and Hedman were 2nd overall.
      There are also great forwards taken later in the draft like Jamie Benn (leading NhL scorer) and outside the top 5. Plenty of bust forwards too.

      My thinking is that if you are confident you can draft a #1 pairing D, you do it. Wingers are much easier to obtain outside of the draft. Drafting a d-man puts more pressure on your scouts. Forward could be the safe pick but not the better long term choice.

      I hear Dubois being compared to James Neal. Good player, but a #1 D is more valuable than James Neal in my opinion.

  • Hockey123

    Lots of people clammering for Benning to draft a d-man. It’s worth pointing out that only two of the top 20 scoring d-men in the NHL this year were drafted in the top 5. D-men’s development seems harder to predict than forwards’.

    Look at the Canucks’ 2011 team, which had the second lowest GA in the league. Not a single d-man was a top 5 pick. Some of their current most promising d-men were either late draft picks (Hutton, Tryamkin) or undrafted (Tanev).

    If Juolevi, Chychrun or Servachev is the real deal and a future top pairing defender, Benning should go for it. No question. Hopefully he and his scouts are as astute as reputued. But the Canucks have a lot of needs, including a relative shortage of prospects at left wing. Tkachuk might be a good pick – so might Nylander.

    They should draft the best player available, regardless of position. They’ll have plenty more chances to draft defensemen.

  • andyg

    We will still get a very good prospect but not one who will play next year.

    So no one to excite the paying fans. I am sure that is what Linden was hoping for, it would have made selling season tickets a lot easier.

    • andyg

      Even though I believe that hockey Gods have given us a pick outside of top 3 so that we can pick a Dman, maybe dropping Oilers in front of us is also by design. What we’ll pick will be much in response to what Oilers do but in the end it will fill one of the voids on our team. Dubois to cover cente/wing positions that will be eventually vacated by Sedins or Juolevi to draft that to Dman we so desperately need.

  • Hockey123

    Kind of ironic that the lottery was put in place to limit a team’s desire to tank yet the team who clearly tanked this year picks first.

    I feel frustrated but glad Winnipeg got #2 and not Edmonton. Although, Columbus getting #3 seems like such a waste.

    Hope Benning has his eye on someone good.

  • Cyclone16

    Let’s assume Benning is a good judge of prospects. Why not trade down to a spot we’re going to find one of the top 3 defence, and take another diamond in the rough left winger in return? I think we’re better off right now with lots of potentials rather than a few “sure things”.

  • Cyclone16

    I see a lot of chatter that sort of presumes the Canucks are better off getting a defenseman. If even a Hanifin-type dman was available this year I could get with this assumed logic.

    But as far as I can tell, it seems like both Dubois and Tkachuck are better prospects than someone like a Sam Bennett.

    True, it’s not as easy to grab a top four dman outside the draft as it is a winger. At the same time, I have to agree with Jason Botchford: we’re just nowhere near as poorly set up on defence as it’s often just automatically presumed.

    Ask yourself what was the more serious issue for the Canucks this years: offence or defence? Pretty sure it’s offence. If anything, the biggest issue we have with our D is their lack of offensive production.

    But let’s catalogue. Tanev is still young, a decent contract, and one of the best first outlet passers in the league. Edler may never be ‘that guy’ we were hoping he could be but he will be a top four for at least another two-four seasons. Hutton is found money: he’s already a top four defenseman with the potential to improve much more yet. Do we really imagine that Hutton is somehow going to regress out of the top six anytime soon? He’s 22 without a history of injuries that could leave some doubt. Tryamkin it’s obviously still too soon to say but even in the small sampling we got it seemed like he was already capable of being at least a bottom pairing guy with a potentially high ceiling. Pedan didn’t thrill but I feel pretty confident with him as a bottom pairing guy last year. We’ve got Stetcher, Suddan, Larsen, Brisebois…if even one of these players turns into a bottom pairing we’re laughing.

    Sure, we don’t have that stud 1D, and someone in this draft may be that 1D, but which one is it? Should we pass on what seems like fairly surefire first line forward talent when it’s on offer when it’s not as though we can feel any real confidence that we’re getting a potential 1D stud?

    Do we expect Baertschi to put up 25-30 goals and 55-70 points? Is this not the best out of what we can expect from Boeser? Are Virtanen and Horvat likely top line players? They seem like, at best, good second liners on a good team. We need scoring more than we need anything else.

    Especially if Dubois is still available at 5, it just seems insane to pass on the opportunity to have a clear succession plan for Henrik to take a Hamhuis-like player.

    Aside from how great it would be to have a 1D stud I have no idea why it’s popularly perceived that Vancouver is somehow much better set up in the future at forward than defence. Yeah, you can sign wingers but are you ever going to sign a core-quality winger in his prime for decent money? That’s even more rare than picking up a dman through a trade or signing.

    It just has to be Dubois or Tkachuck from my perspective. To go through this season and only get a solid, Hamhuis-like prospect out of it really just doesn’t get the juices flowing like a potential offensive dynamo with grit and heart. Both my head and my heart wants a forward and I will be quite disappointed even with Juolevi, whom I otherwise presume will have a very solid NHL career and could very well be a top pairing guy.

    But we need top 6 guys who can potentially get 70 points. We have done nothing to ensure a transition away from the Sedins. This is the glaring issue.

  • Cyclone16

    Pardon my ignorance, but can someone help me get my head around this statement:

    “the Vancouver Canucks landed exactly where they were most likely to, at fifth overall.”

    They had third best probability to draw at the top. How come the Canucks have most likely chance to draw fifth?

    Is that a simulation result black magic monte carlo computer voodoo? Would love to understand how this can be correct!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Andy

      Lottery odds for bottom 3 teams were 20%, 13.5%, and 11.5%, totalling 45%.

      That means there’s also a 55% chance a team outside the bottom 3 wins a lottery pick.

      As teams win lottery picks, the odds redistribute to other teams.

      If bottom 2 teams win picks, Canucks draft spot stays.

      Any team ‘above’ the bottom 3 win picks, the Canucks draft spot drops.

      Toronto’s first overall win shifted Edmonton and Vancouver’s odds to ~16% and ~14%, totalling 30%. That leaves a 70% chance that a team below Vancouver’s draft position would leapfrog ahead in draft order, which did happen.

      I’m not able to prove that it’s the most statistically likely option, but it was definitely plausible. In Toronto’s situation, they actually had a >50% chance of NOT getting a top 3 pick at all; the lottery balls just worked in their favour this time.

    • andyg

      The likeliest outcome is one of the bottom three teams getting a top-three draft pick. This moves the other two bottom teams to finish four-five.
      If if all three bottom teams came up empty in the lottery, Vancouver finishes six; whereas if both Toronto and Edmonton were lottery winners then Vancouver would finish fourth.

  • RandomScrub

    It´s hard to imagine that the Oilers would pass take Chychrun unless they trade one of their top for D, so the there is big chance to Dubois. Yes, D-man is priority, but Dubois is player that is hard to pass.

  • andyg

    Benning told Dreger that if the D they want is not there that they would look at Dubois or Tkachuk.

    They all say that it is no secret that he likes Juolevi. But so do a lot of others. My bet is that Oilers take Juolevi at 4th.(he is what they need)

    If we have a choice between Tkachuk and Dubois then we can’t go wrong. Not a bad consolation prize!!

    We can go after a D like Johansen in the second round.

    • allsportsfan

      I think you’re right — I’d be really surprised if the Oilers didn’t either take a D or trade down to take one of those 3 defensemen. I think people are continuing to underrate Chychrun just because of the progress of some of the others or because a guy like Bean is flashier. I think the Oilers either take Chychrun or Juolevi or figure out another team in the top ten really wants them and plays them to move down (I hope that’s not us). I can’t see them taking another smallish winger (Tkachuk or Nylander) or a C (Dubois) given their strength down the middle.

      I also think it’s a terrible idea for us to move out of the top 10. There is a significant drop off in tiers — Tier 1 is Matthews, Tier 1A is Laine and Pulujarvi, Tier 3 is two brackets — probably Dubois, Chychrun and Juolevi, and then Tkachuk, Sergachev and Nylander. I don’t think we can go wrong with any of those 9. I think we would be fools to go for a lower pick and take an established top-four d-man or whatever else others are saying. Much higher reward with another blue chip prospect.

      If everything were to work out — and that’s a huge if — we wouldn’t be in a really competitive state for another three years, in a team built around a core of Horvat, Virtanen, Demko, Boeser, Tanev Hutton, and McCann. I would want to add more blue chip prospects to keep us competitive for a while, not just in the short term. This is a fantastic opportunity that I HOPE we don’t keep having but we should take advantage of high picks when we have them.

  • Almo89

    I’m looking at the 3-4 year window, when we might be able to challenge for a Cup if things go our way.

    Edler just turned 30 so he could still be a good D-man. We’ll have Hutton and Tanev too.

    A team needs to have about 4 big time stars on the team to win the Cup. Almost all of the recent Cup winners had a superstar C, and most have a superstar D. Either way the Canucks need to focus on those two positions, because we don’t have either right now, and they’re almost impossible to acquire via trade.

    Looking at the Center position, here’s where recent Cup winning 1st line centres went:

    Doughty (2nd, LA)
    Keith (54th, CHI)
    Chara (56th, NYI)
    Letang (62nd, PIT)
    Lidstrom (53rd, DET)
    Niedermeyer (3rd, NJ)
    Pronger (2nd, HAR)

    Kopitar (11th, LA)
    Toews (3rd, CHI)
    Bergeron (45th, BOS)
    Crosby (1st, PIT)
    Malkin (2nd, PIT)
    Zetterberg (210th, DET)
    Datsuyk (171st, DET)
    Getzlaf (19th, ANA)

    Man, Detroit had horseshoes.

    Hard to really draw a lot of conclusions. But I was surprised how many top flight D weren’t even 1st rounders.

    I think that the best route would be to pick duBois if he’s available, but if not, trade down and get a defenseman.

    • allsportsfan

      Based on top 60 dmen in scoring in the league last year, not this year. Why 60 because take 30 teams and factor top 2 per team. Here’s where they were drafted.

      Round 1: 29 or 52%
      Round 2: 10 or 18%
      Round 3: 5 or 9%
      Greater than Round 3: 12 or 21%

      Bring it down to top 32 or 16 teams in playoffs

      Round 1: 16 or 29%
      Round 2: 6 or 11%
      Round 3: 2 or 4%
      > Round 3: 2 or 4%

      So round 1 is by scoring is where you will find your top dmen, round 2 has only 18% of the top 60

      Let’s put this arguement of we can find top dmen from other rounds other than round 1.

      Losing Luc Bourdon really hurt us as well as not drafting a dman in round 1 since him.

  • Dirty30

    Now I want to sign Lucic just to spear Bettman in the groinery 17 times.

    Okay, now that that’s out of my system, this exercise was really about what to do next.

    I don’t think this team, even with a top three pick would be a contender, let alone make a deep run.

    Too few healthy vets, too few proven middle range guys, and too many rookies still finding their way.

    Now, the potential is there in some pieces — and JB and crew now know what they can pick and what they need to do from here for now and the future.

    Goalies — looks good for now.

    D — not great, but not bad either. Tryamkin brings that size, Hutton will only improve, and Larson, Pedan and Biega can do for now.

    Centre — Hank, Sutter, Bo, Gaunce/McCann … Yes, could use a better C in that mix.

    Wingers — Dank, Hansen, Baer, Rodin, Virtanen, Etem … Yes, could use an upgrade here as well.

    JB has been scavenging the college players and who knows what can come out of there — no trading assets, no using up picks — so he still has some picks to work with and a lot of salary coming free to sign FA’s or take picks, prospects and poor contracts.

  • Fred-65

    I would take a huge centre to replace Henrik (Either Dubois or Brown). In that case Jared M could be flipped in a deal to get a quality D prospect coming back. I still think you take the best player on the board instead of need here. Should be interesting to see what Edmonton does. We may lose out on Dubois as they’d be likely to trade down to get a D-Man.

  • Andy

    Yrs.ago Ray Bourqe was the consensus can,t miss franchise pick,a dman. Before him Dennis Potvin and recently Drew Doughty, Brian Leetch and I do not think Duncan Keith was rated as high.

    Now if one of these types were avaliable then we would have heard this. But this yr its all about the big young forwards and so I hope we draft either Dubois or Brown or Tkachuk

    Then go after a dman in trade or free agency

    I bet you don,t even know who Potvin was right Ryan B,LOL???

  • Dirty30

    I’m a glass half full kind of guy so I look at the Canucks draft position like this: with the top three picks coming from the Swiss and Finnish leagues respectively, The Canucks will be drafting one of the two best players from the entire CHL. I find it hard to believe that we won’t find an impact player in a strong draft at the number five spot.

    I also don’t understand the contention that many are making here that whoever we pick at number five can’t or won’t immediately make the team. In the last two seasons alone we have had a 6th overall pick, a 10th overall pick, and a 24th overall pick all make the roster straight out of Junior. So while I would not be overly disappointed to see whomever we pick go back to play another your junior hockey, I’m also not going to be overly surprised if they are good enough to make the team immediately.

    I strongly favour taking the best available player regardless of the position that they play and I think looking at the draft objectively that player will be a forward and not a defenceman.

    • andyg

      They will not make the team as 18 year old’s. That does not mean that they will be years away. We had two 19 years this year so that would not be far fetched to foresee.
      If they go with a D man then it would be longer.

  • Fred-65

    A classic case of lipstick and pig. Pig tucked under right arm lipstick firmly held in left hand …… 1-2-3 GO. Men we missed the prize this is like a every one gets a participation ribbon

    • andyg

      What we miss will be seeing the player we pick on the NHL ice next year…

      We will get a very good forward or Dman, depending on how Edm picks. It’s a toss up between DeBois and Juolev…

      Canucks have 3 options, DeBois, Juolev Tkachuk. All great options, but not next year.

      • Fred-65

        What we will miss is a franchise type player that this team desperately needs going forward. We get a better than average player and are told to believe lady luck is by our side. Truth is no she ain’t and the rube Linden is trying to paper over the cracks In hope the plebs will fall for it ….most do

        • TrueBlue

          There is absolutely zero sense in crying about it. The lottery is a good thing. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t help us, but it’s luck of the draw. I get that we all wanted some luck, but lashing out at a 5th overall pick is ridiculous.

          This pick will go a LONG way towards helping us build a contender. It won’t be the end of the road, but make no mistake: a top three pick was not going to be the last piece of our puzzle either. And if mgmt sat back on their laurels to let one of the top 3 picks drive ticket prices, that would have been a bad scene.

          So if this means mgmt has to go into the draft, free agency, and next season’s youth development with a mindset to squeeze every last drop of value out of our prospect pool, then we will be in a good place moving forward.

        • Fred-65

          Sorry but a team is more than a “franchise” player…

          I am bummed we didn’t get a top three pick, but I missed the rule that says the only three franchise players are Mathews and the two Finns? One thing I do trust is Bennings eye as a Scout….

          He will pick a difference maker.

          • Fred-65

            You’re right in as much there MAY be a franchise player in the later in the first or even the 5th round or where ever. The top 3 were acclaimed franchise players Any one would be stupid to spend their money betting on a franchise player popping up just any where. The consensus of all the scouts and Central scouting ISS who ever have told us that the top 3 are a way ahead of the rest of the draft. There’s a reason for that. People giving you odds for which players are destined for greatness have spoken… you can bet against the field but I wouldn’t put a plugged nickel on it