3 Players the Vancouver Canucks Should Hope are Available at 33rd Overall

The introduction of a triple-threat lottery for the top three positions in the NHL Entry Draft has dulled the appeal of intentionally tanking for down on their luck franchises. Take the Vancouver Canucks, for one example. They finished third last in the entire league and are in line to pick fifth overall in the first round. 

I said the lottery dulled the appeal though because it doesn’t necessarily strip it entirely. Beyond the first round, the draft goes according to the standings – last place earns the first pick of each round, and so on. So the Canucks will pick no lower than third in any given round. That’s not a half bad spot to be in.

Luck permitting, that means there’s going to be at least one – perhaps many, even – first-round talent that slips through the cracks and lands right in their laps. And that trend will likely continue all the way into the seventh-round. Sticking strictly with the second, though, there’s bound to be a few great options for their choosing. Let’s look at five exactly that should of special interest to the Canucks.

Samuel Girard

Though undersized, Samuel Girard represents an interesting gamble on the blue. As the leading defender on the Shawinigan Cataracts, Girard put up points at over a point-per-game clip in both the regular season and the playoffs alike. Girard can skate exceptionally well and is a slippery player from within his own zone, though he’s just as adept at completing the breakout with a strong first pass.

The biggest knock of Girard is his in-zone coverage and defensive play on the whole. One scout I chatted with at the Top Prospect’s Game literally described him as “a fourth forward”. Which is to say that Girard is very raw as a defender and a long way from developing into a sound and viable option at the professional level. 

I still think we’re looking at a first-round player, though, if Girard were but an inch or two taller. He’s well worth the risk late in the first, or preferably the second-round.

Will Bitten

I can’t remember who said it, but I recall someone I respect highly in the industry describing Will Bitten as everything for the Flint Firebirds – in those exact words. If any one player is “everything” for his junior franchise at the age of 17, that’s lofty praise. If that franchise happens to be the Firebirds, we’re talking about a pretty special player and in all likelihood, a pretty special person, too. For those not up to speed, the team walked out on their owner upon his dismissal of the head coach, due in large to his reluctance to play his son more. That’s just the start, too.

Bitten is a well-rounded forward, best known for his gaudy work ethic and ability to process the game exceedingly well in all three zones. He’s a great passer too, with excellent anticipation. Bitten’s innate offensive abilities would likely show themselves better on literally any other team than Flint in the OHL. The next highest scoring Firebird has 17 fewer points than Bitten.

Tyler Benson

If Tyler Benson weren’t sidelined for the vast majority of the 2015-16 season by injuries, I think we’re talking about a player ranked in the top twenty, if not the top ten of the draft. It’s not as Benson is necessarily injury prone, either. Some of these injuries were born entirely of abysmally poor luck. 

Benson is still a former first overall selection in the WHL draft. The talent is definitely there. It’s worth noting that Benson was still able to maintain a near-point-per-game pace playing through injuries for the few games he was able to suit up in. If he’s available at 33rd overall, that’s a bet well worth placing.

    • Sami Ohlund

      I don’t think Johansen falls in the “should hope are available ” category.

      But then again I don’t think Bitten or Girard fall in that category either.

      I would say Grundström, Debrincat and Rubtsov are 3 that probably won’t fall but have an outside chance.

      • pheenster

        I hear what you are saying. The title to the article says “should hope” not should fall. I like the 3 defensemen I mentioned for the 2nd round pick. Assuming of course that we select a forward in the 1st.

        • Sami Ohlund

          I just don’t see the difference, it would be like saying Canucks should hope that Tkachuk and Dubois are available at 5.

          If they aren’t doesn’t that mean that one of the top 3 are available?

          • pheenster

            With Toronto & Edmonton picking ahead of us, with similar needs on the back end, I “should hope” that at least 1 of those 3 players mentioned in my original comment are available for us to select.

    • pheenster

      Logan Stanley is a beast and he’s still just 17 but doubt he’ll be available in the 2nd round. Van would would need to trade up to land him.If he’s still there @ #33 they would be very fortunate.

  • pheenster

    I really hope Benson lasts but I’d be really surprised if he did. Maybe Klague or Debrincat would be possible sliders.

    Getting that 3rd back (Pedan trade) in the Sutter deal (though we gave up the 2nd from the Bieksa deal) is looking good given how high it will be.

    And despite all our moaning about losing our draft spot, it’s not like we were WAY behind CBJ or WPG…

  • Condorman

    I really think that if ,benson falls, and teams hate declining stats, that Tyler will be a steal at 33. He would have definitely gone top 10 had he not suffered freak injuries. I’ve watched a lot of Giants games and Benson is ALWAYS a threat and in the middle of the play every shift. This is a guy that competes and already has an NHL body. May be better suited as a 2nd liner but can play up Or down as needed. Competes like Bo but with more skill. If Bo can improve his skating to elite and Tyler gets the same help, he could be the steal of the draft.

  • Condorman

    Tyler Bensen if he is still available but not the other 2, they are smurfs. Vancouver needs to get bigger. I understand them going after Drake Caggiula because he has a pesky Marchand-like personality but you can’t have too many small guys. If anyone watched game 7 of Ducks VS Preds, it was “big-boy” hockey and the Preds got slapped around pretty good even though they have a big team.

    To compete with the teams like Ducks, Sharks, Kings in the west, Van needs to try and develop role players like Mackenze Stewart and Pedan for those roles. I don’t see superstar qualities in Stewart (but apparently he has a never die attitude which might get him here one day.

    Please don’t draft smurfs Mr. Benning.

    • Condorman

      Yes, too bad for the Predators, right? They’re just devastated right now.

      On the plus side, I have heard that long arms make it easier to swing a golf club.

      It sounds like you are advocating that Mackenze Stewart should be groomed to line up against Ryan Getzlaf. I’m glad you aren’t the GM.

  • Vanoxy

    Draft Will Bitten, Sign Drake Caggiula, Bring back Burrows.

    Just 1 pre-season game with a line of Bitten, Drake “Dracula” Caggiula and the notorious Cannibal Burrows please!!

  • Condorman

    I think this teams needs on defense are pretty obvious and well discussed, but if we walk out of this draft with Tkachuck and Benson then we don’t have to worry about the LW position for about 10 years…and that’s not something to scoff at.

    Imagine a day in the near future where one line has Tkachuck-Horvat-Virtanen and another line has Benson-McCann-Boeser…not shabby.

  • Sami Ohlund

    Here are three other players who may be available in the 2nd Round when the Canucks take their turn. All are D-men and all shoot left. In a consensus draft list article that blended 7 different lists (http://flamesnation.ca/2016/5/9/2016-nhl-entry-draft-consensus-rankings-may-9-2015) each one of these players made the top 30 only once – so possibly one or more of them will be available when the Canucks pick at 33. One thing to note is the birthdates of these players. Cam Dineen won’t turn 18 until June, Jacob Moverare is younger and won’t turn 18 until the end of August. Dennis Cholowski turned 18 in February. If Moverare had been born a couple of weeks later, he wouldn’t be eligible for this year’s draft and would have another year to develop. Where would he then be taken if he were being drafted in 2017?

    Cam Dineen – jumped from 117th in the rankings to 39 North American list, that’s trending upward. Numbers 13-46-59 in 68 games for the OHL North Bay Battalion – 3rd in team scoring. According to articles I read, he is a defender who relies on his mobility and his skill in driving the play. He is not overly big but uses sound positioning in his own end. He can add strength to his 5-11 frame but having a head for the game is a more difficult trait to acquire. One scout compared him to Duncan Keith at the same age – ooh, I hate that guy.
    Defense — shoots L
    Born Jun 19 1998 — Toms River, NJ
    [17 yrs. ago]
    Height 5.11 — Weight 182 [180 cm/83 kg]

    Jacob Moverare – combination of size, skill and mobility. He is not only very mobile but he also possesses smooth hands – can move the puck smoothly and often uses a toe-drag to buy himself time when under pressure by fore-checkers. Moverare is a decent three-zone-player as he works efficient at both ends of the ice and can be used in both special team units. And he is a big seventeen year-old.
    Defense — shoots L
    Born August 31, 1998 – Ostersund, Sweden
    [17 yrs. ago]
    Height 6.02 — Weight 198 [188 cm/90 kg]

    Dennis Cholowski – a local kid, he played spring hockey growing up under former Canuck Cliff Ronning. And he’s gone through a recent growth spurt: he was 5-foot-9 two summers ago, and he’s currently listed at 6-foot-1. Some say 6-2. Getting bigger and stronger, a smooth skater with a high hockey IQ and a competitive edge. Played for Chilliwack in the BC League.
    Defense — shoots L
    Born Feb 15 1998 — Langley, BC
    [18 yrs. ago]
    Height 6.01 — Weight 165 [185 cm/75 kg]

    Pretty good chance one of these guys will be there, and Canucks need prospects on D, especially if they grab a forward with their first pick.