After acquiring the 135th and 181st pick from Chicago, the Canucks used No. 135 to select double-overaged defenseman Kristoffer Gunnarsson from IK Oskarshamn in the Allsvenskan. Gunnarsson is set to play with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elite League next season.
As a 20 year-old player passed over twice, scouting reports were hard to come by. Courtesy of Elite Prospects, here’s one I was able to dig up on the 6’1″, 209 pound defenseman:
“Gunnarsson is a defenseman who plays a safe, defensive-minded game. Owns decent mobility and skating ability. Likes to hit and punish opponents physically. Doesn’t contribute much offensively.”
Although many will automatically come to conclusions and deem him a bust, it is encouraging to know that he has a relationship with the Swedish national team. Gunnarsson found himself throughout the lineup at the 2017 World Juniors, from the first pair alongside Anaheim Ducks prospect Jacob Larsson, and all the way down to the team’s seventh defenseman in the bronze medal game.
Despite going undrafted in the past two drafts, the Canucks obviously found qualities in his game they deemed worthy of a 5th-round pick. Having selected Jack Rathbone earlier in the fourth round, Jim Benning continued to add to the defensive depth of the prospect pool.
Although not much is known about Gunnarsson at this point, we’ll certainly get a better feeling for his game come development camp within the next few weeks.