Canucks Army Prospect Profile: #9 Tate Olson

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An unknown coming into this past season, 2015 7th round pick Tate Olson checks in as the 9th best prospect in our consensus rankings for the Canucks just a short year late.

Slipping under the radar for the first part of the season, TSN’s Craig Button had Tate Olson as the 4th best prospect in the organization in February. This raised some eyebrows amongst Canucks faithful but under further evaluation, it’s clear what Button sees in the Prince George defenceman.

Now the question is, how was Olson still available with the 210th overall pick?

Let’s start with the scouting reporting from Curtis Joe at Elite Prospects:

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.

Here is a good video package that highlights some of his goals, assists and hits throughout last season:

The rangy defenceman measures in at 6’2″ and 185 lbs, using that size effectively in all three zones. Olson is a very calm, cool and collected two-way defenceman who makes an impact everywhere. He has a knack for finding the open lanes for his shot or passing to his team-mates. While retreating to defending, he uses his long powerful strides to keep his opponents in front of him, wide, and away from the net. Although he isn’t a noted hitter, as we saw in the video above, he can and will take the body when the situation calls for it.

He also dropped the gloves on a few occasions. 

Olson saw an increase in all his offensive stats from his draft year. After posting 5 goals, 19 assists, 69 PIMs and -13 during the 14-15 season – he put up 9 goals, 38 assists, +16 and 90 PIMs in his D+1 season. His 47 points were ranked 17th in the WHL amongst defenceman, one point ahead of 2016 first round pick Lucas Johansen. Looking at just the 2015 draft eligible peer group, Olson was ranked 7th in total points and 7th in primary points amongst those defencemen.

So it’s clear, he was at the very least, in the conversation as one of the better defencemen in the WHL.

What is particularly impressive is that Prince George did not see a drastic increase in offensive production, going from 222 GF/PG in 2014-15 to 240 GF/PG in 2015-16. Olson just took on the added responsibility and ran with it – the next closest Cougar defenceman had 31 points or about 66% of Olson’s production.

The Cougars ran into the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round and were promptly eliminated. It was the Mathew Barzal show and Prince George was just a speed bump for the Thunderbirds. 

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When looking at the P/GP rate for Olson, he hovers around the 0.8 PPG mark for the majority of the season, but sees a slight drop off as the season wound down. Which isn’t surprising given that the Cougars went 3-7-0 in their final 10 games, with two of those wins coming against the Vancouver Giants.

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I hoped that Olson would get an ATO with the Comets and at the very least practice with Utica, but ultimately the Canucks management felt that Olson needed to get a head start on his training regimen. Which is a fair thought, as Olson needs to add some more strength and fill out his frame.

Using pGPS, 31.0% of comparable players to Olson went on to becoming NHL regulars, and looking at the Canucks prospect pool, that percentage is just below some of the other well-known names that will be coming up. (obviously well below the high-end guys). Some of his closest comparable players were Brent Sopel, Luca Sbisa and Richard Matvichuk. 

That chance of success is extremely favourable when we are looking at where Olson was taken in the 2015 NHL entry draft. 

Olson will return to the WHL this season and look to build on a very successful D+1 season. If the Cougars are not in the mix for being a contender in the WHL, Olson could be a very sought after trade target for teams eyeing the WHL title. Ideally, he will see some consistency in his production throughout the season, because as we can see his production dropped off in the final 15 games and playoffs last season.

I would expect him to sign an ELC with the Canucks at some point before June 1, 2017, the date in which the Canucks would lose his rights – there has been enough progress and development that Olson is worth it. He will then go to the AHL and try to adapt quickly and carve out a career as a pro. Olson just turned 19 in March, so there is plenty of time for development.

I will be curious to see how he will do in Penticton at the Young Stars tournament – there will be some serious talent to defend against and he should be paired with some decent partners as well. Hopefully, he can take advantage of the situation and earn himself another invite to main training camp. 

So far, that 210th overall pick is looking pretty good.

  • cupnucks

    5 years down the line, I think we’ll be look back and see how good Benning’s 2014/2015 drafts were.

    From 2014, 3 players have already had a cup of coffee in the NHL (Virt, McCann,Tryamkin), Demko will be knocking on the door soon and it looks as though Forsling has a shot of making it. Petit and Stewart were waste, but even then when have the Canucks ever had a draft where the first 5 picks they made ended up making it?

    2015, Boeser is gonn be gud, and every other pick that year (Brisbois, Zhukenov, Neill, Gaudette, Jasek, Olson) has the potential to make an impact.

    Damn, begone bad drafting woes

    • JMoney

      Agreed. For all the teeth gnashing about Benning, this is the one thing he does really really well and in my opinion it’s the most important thing.

      In every single sport, it’s the teams that draft well that succeed.

      He’s signed some bad contracts but nothing that’s debilitated the franchise or crushed the cap. There are question marks about some of the trades but there’s still no “smoking gun” of incompetence that any critic can point to.

      So for me, if we’ve seen the “worst” Benning’s management style has to offer, I’ll gladly take it in return for his “best” – drafting. All in all I’m glad to have him around.

      • I agree with your comment. The signing of Sbisa and Dorsett has been criticized. Perhaps Miller too, but all three guys play regular minutes in the NHL. There is no talk or need to buy them out.

        Mike Gillis signed Ballard and Booth. Oilers have Ference and Nikitin sitting in the press box. Fayne cleared waivers. In total Oilers have over $10M in cap space tied up in defensemen who can’t play. Columbus has plenty of bad contracts on their books. But not us.

        • Vanoxy

          Ballard,Booth and…

          $800k sent to FLorida every year with a superstar goalie that took two years to trade in return for a second line winger and a prospect.

        • TheRealPB

          They only play regular minutes because our team and coach are lousy. Doesn’t make them defensible contracts (I grant that Miller is overpaid but not an anchor like the other two). By the way, we’re also paying top 6 money for Sutter (not a top 6 forward), and pretty soon are going to be paying top 4 money for Gudbranson (not a top 4 defenceman). The problem I have is that, apart from Baertschi, I can’t see any good trades that he’s made. That’s 1/a lot.

          Gillis didn’t actually sign either of those players, both were signed by Florida and traded here. I don’t deny that neither was particularly successful in Vancouver, though I would take the two of them over Dorsett and Sbisa in a second. Get your facts straight.

          The fact that we’re comparing our current GM against a fired former one and incompetent regimes from Edmonton, instead of against actually good management elsewhere, should tell you all you need to know about how bad it’s been. If he’d stop trading draft picks away and actually used them (ie: the one place I think he isn’t inept) I think we’d be far better off.

          • TheRealPB

            Gudbrandson was a top 4 D in Florida (actually top 3 by usage and tops by defensive deployment balanced by having zero offensive role) and Sutter was used as a top six F by Pittsburgh depending on injuries (and if the reason you’re the 3C is because Malkin and Crosby are ahead of you I think it’s a little different than if you’re the 3C on a team with say Kadri and Bozak in front of you). You’d really take Ballard and Booth — who went on to wash out with the Wild and Leafs respectively — over Dorsett and Sbisa? None of them are particularly good but the latter two cost far less (in salary and assets) than did the Gillis acquisitions.

            I think the facts you might want to get straight are yours. There’s still in my mind only one truly puzzling verging on bad trade and that’s the Shinkaruk one. The rest are reasonable gambles.

          • Cageyvet

            Gudbranson was passed on the depth chart by at least 4 players, and has plainly demonstrated that he was not worthy of his draft slot. His advanced metrics say he’s a bottom pairing guy who despite his billing as a defensive stalwart gives up way too many scoring chances (controlled for quality of competition).

            Sutter has scored 20 goals once in his career, a fluke, and is a negative possession players who makes his teammates worse. He’s a defensive center who isn’t very good at faceoffs. There is absolutely nothing top 6 about him, at least not on a good team (which I want ours to be).

            Booth was a passable 3rd liner, and Ballard a passable 3rd pairing guy. That’s compared to Dorsett, a 13th forward and Sbisa, an AHL level defenceman. Neither Booth nor Ballard lived up to their billing, but they were plainly, unequivocally, better hockey players than Dorsett and Sbisa are with us. There’s a bit of logical fallacy built into your assertion about washing out, because Dorsett and Sbisa should have washed out with the Canucks, it’s only the management’s incompetence that has prevented this. Ballard and Booth were also guys acquired to try to bolster a winning core, whereas Dorsett and Sbisa were scrubs who were acquired and re-signed during a building phase.

            Your opinion is your opinion. I haven’t liked any of the trades apart from the Baertschi one, and none of the other ones has particularly worked out (jury still out on Gudbranson, I will grant). Reasonable gambles, maybe, but most reasonable people who lose time after time figure out it’s time to get of Vegas.

  • TheRealPB

    I’m not sure what’s more impressive Benning’s drafting prowess or the absolute travesty that has been the Canucks record over the years. Even in the Sedin’s draft armed with the 3rd selection through the rest of the draft they literally picked no one who played a single NHL game. Their best year in terms of quantity of quality NHLers produced was 2004. If Olson can make it as a 7th rounder that is pretty impressive stuff. Now that the prospect depth on the back end has been stabilized and the goalie depth as well, I wonder if some of them can be used as chips to prop up the C prospects.

    • A much as we like the defensive prospect depth, the only way I can see a team willing to give up a young center, or most likely the pick needed to draft the center, is trading a d-man from the current roster. It will take a Tanev or Hutton to get that centre man.

      For this to happen in the immediate future, one of Pedan, Tryamkin, or Subban really has to open eyes, or Sbisa markedly improve. And frankly, for a variety of reasons, I think this market has soured so much on Sbisa I don’t think he’ll get fair shake here. If he improves next year people will just clamour for him to be traded for whatever can be acquired opposed to seeing an uptick in his development curve.

  • I can’t help but smile. Our D depth is looking good.

    For Tate Olson(or is it Olsen) to crack our top ten is impressive. Next year, Uticas defense will overflow with Canucks draft picks. Olson, Neill, Brisboise, Stecher, Subban, and off course Juolevi. It’s gonna be fun to watch these young guys develop into future Canucks, and possibly NHL stars.

    For all the belly aching surrounding our team, our prospect pool is the best it’s been in years.

  • Vanoxy

    The Defensive depth has really improved, mostly through understated picks like this.

    Nobody was excited when Olson was drafted, or Candella or McEneny or Sauntner but these guys have all improved since being drafted and seem like real prospects.

    I think we all became accustomed to any pick after the 2nd round just withering on the vine, during the Gillis era.

    • Bob Long

      Gillis. Schneider and Luongo traded. God it still irks me to the point where you forget how bad he was at drafting. How he managed to pick Horvat and not drop down to Morin is beyond me.

      • TheRealPB

        Sautner was also an undrafted free agent.

        And in response to Cageyvet above, I do think that having a lot of waiver-claim eligible players is a risk of Benning’s strategy of trying to jumpstart a rebuild by opting for slightly older prospects with a decent track record — it leaves them much more vulnerable to being picked off by other teams. That’s not really a huge issue when it comes to players like Megna or Chaput but it is definitely a concern when it comes to a player like Pedan. It’s not the end of the world — the endless tears over the Corrado situation makes it seem like that was the worst mismanagement ever (even if it was kind of unnecessary) even though several other more highly regarded players were also lost on waivers last year (Ferraro, Tikhonov, Warsofsky).

        • Cageyvet

          I understand the risk, but these guys cost you nothing to sign. You can lose, or not lose, a player like Pedan regardless of how many other unprotected-from-waiver players you sign.

          I fail to see the correlation with our core prospects, these are depth signings and players you won’t lose sleep over if someone takes them off your hands. Adding 6 players who don’t need waivers doesn’t help you protect Pedan, any more than adding 6 players who require waivers does anything further to expose him.

          For the record, I find Pedan a roster spot and play him at D, not forward, let the Stecher’s of the world work their way into the lineup. I think Pedan will be an NHL regular and it would be a shame to give up on him this early in his career, if we let Hamhuis walk and don’t play guys like him, what was the point? And why is Larsson gift-wrapped a job but Pedan has to earn his? I hope training camp is an open competition again this year.

          • TheRealPB

            Agreed regarding the core prospects we are holding onto but we have sacrificed at least two who might have been considered core (McCann and Shinkaruk) in favor of this strategy and Pedan wasn’t a free agent signing, he cost us Mallet (no cost) and a third which we reacquired at the price of the 2nd we got for Bieksa.

            I do agree that it’s easier to waive depth signings for sure but the decisions are more challenging with some we’ve added through trades.

            As for the Larsson situation I think it’s more that we have a lot of D who are of a similar type — large, physical, supposedly mobile (Sbisa, Gudbrandson, Tryamkin, Pedan) — and very few offensive D. In the offensive D mold we basically have Larsson, Stetcher and Subban, so the hope is that he is able to play. I don’t think there are any guarantees any more than with Rodin.

      • Vanoxy

        You are correct. Thanks for pointing it out.

        One area Gillis did OK was going after college free agents and undrafted players.

        Benning did a nice job landing Stecher. Maybe he can land Matt Benning, who is the last of the big NCAA guys looking for deals… and his friggin nephew.
        C’mon JB, no excuses on this one.

  • cupnucks

    one way to judge prospect depth is to look at how many waiver eligible guys they have in their non-roster pool.

    if you look at the leafs right now they have 2 contracts in their non-roster contract list. (capfriendly)

    if you look at the canucks

    the canucks have 8 non-roster contracts that require waivers.

    This means we cannot call them up and down because they are too old because we have not drafted well and had to sign our draft picks so we have to fill out our non-roster player contracts (which should be a bunch of great drafted prospects) with 26 year old AHL’ers like Chaput, Megna, Hulak, Rendulic and Billins
    (they sound like random made-up hockey names)

    • Cageyvet

      Really? You must be a Leafs fan. Who cares if they are waiver eligible or not? Yes, it’s a factor, but it’s not the main criteria, I care whether they can play.

      The Canucks history is littered with guys who didn’t need waivers to move up or down, and that didn’t help since calling them up was a waste of time, they weren’t good enough.

      As others have said, the prospect pool looks good, and filling out your AHL roster is not a crime. Benning didn’t empty the cupboards, he’s refilling them. Signing depth to provide a competitive team in the minors is a prudent move that helps your younger prospects develop in a winning environment.

      If I have to read another post about how the Leafs and Oilers are ahead of the Canucks I’ll puke, try posting about the horrific management that has seen both teams in the basement for a decade. Call me when they crack the 90 point mark and I will (maybe) consider your comments.

    • Vanoxy

      Waivers are a big concern this year, for sure.

      I hope he makes a move or 2 prior to the season to recoup some picks for a few of he waiver eligible guys.

      If not, that’s ok, because we have enough prospects in Junior, and he will draft more next year, that having open contract slots available is actually a good thing.

      I suspect some of his signings, like Chaput, Megna etc are to basically flood the waiver wire with NHL ready prospects, in order to sneak a few others, like Biega, Pedan etc down to Utica under the radar.

      We will lose a player or 2, but we can afford it.

  • Whackanuck

    Chaput, Megna and the like are signed to create a very competitive, winning team in Utica. That’s been a priority for the Canucks since they bought the team. The fact thay these vets have a modest NHL upside doesn’t hurt. Mix in top prospects and you have a good development system.

      • nomadenhaft

        Sure, but the the article basically leads off with that question, then goes on to say:

        “…he was at the very least, in the conversation as one of the better defencemen in the WHL.”

        If that’s true, the 7th round is an awful lot of cracks to slip through.

        This isn’t meant to trash the article BTW — it’s another great entry in the series. But the author himself asked an intriguing question, and now I’m curious as to possible answers.

        (Full disclosure: this is still Kyle, only now I’m properly logged in. Didn’t mean to boost my argument with fake accounts lol)

          • Cageyvet

            I gave you the thumbs up for that clarification, but I felt the same way after I read the article.

            It was good, but the question you raised a to how he fell that far was not answered with the good-to-glowing reviews you provided.

            Not much mention of weaknesses, injuries, or any clear reason why other teams would pass him up, or even why Vancouver wouldn’t draft him earlier.

          • Ryan Biech

            That’s a fair point/criticism and I should’ve explained in the post.

            Simply put – Olson didn’t really do anything above average in his draft year – so just appeared as a run of the mill sized defenceman who didn’t excel at any one thing.

            He was then thrust into the #1 spot with the Cougars and then ran with it.

  • Fred-65

    Gillis new the gig was up in 2013. We had to put 2011 in the rear view mirror & move on. Luongo and Schneider were of little use to a team that was going no where. In return he got Horvat ( Morin taken in the same draft has yet to make the NHL and frankly not doing brilliantly in the AHL either ) And managed to satisfy MRS Luongo by sending him to Florida ( the only place he would go and she would allow ) for Markstrom. Neither were any good to Vcr. That was the start of the Vcr rebuild. Remember Gillis never got to draft where Benning drafted, primarily because Vcr was a good team, won the Presidents Trophy twice and went to the 7th game of the SC. That ensure one thing you get lousy position in the draft.