With the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in the rearview mirror, the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Canucks, Judd Brackett, made himself available for the media.
In the scrum, Brackett gave his thoughts on each of the players selected on the second day of the draft and provided some insight into what the Canucks thought process was.
The Canucks took Kole Lind with the 33rd overall pick and was someone they thought had first round talent. They liked his game and Brackett spoke highly of Lind’s hockey sense.
Another player that we think has really good hockey sense, awareness, spatial recognition and shot. He protects the puck well and has some ability to get to the net.
With the 55th overall pick, the Canucks selected Jonah Gadjovich from the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL. Brackett spoke about the wingers’ game:
Obviously, Jonah is a high character guy with a big net-front presence. He’s always there and helps their powerplay. He gets his stick on the puck and good on rebounds. Good in front and around the net. He has a high motor and big body.
He’s going to keep coming with his skating, he knows it and we talked to him about it with him at the combine. But we believe in him as a kid. Good character and we really think he’s going to get there.
With their 3rd round pick, the Canucks selected Michael DiPietro from the Windsor Spitfires. Brackett spoke highly of the netminder, pointing to his work ethic multiple times:
What resonates with us is his compete and battle. He’s very athletic, he’s powerful in there. By standards, he isn’t the prototypical size wise. But we feel he makes up for it with athleticism, his speed, quickness and his determination. He doesn’t give up on pucks. He’s a winner, which was proven this year in the Memorial Cup. He was young for his year, leading that team. You can see the presence he has.
The Canucks took US born defenceman Jack Rathbone with the 95th overall pick. The Canucks seem to be very high on the young defender and will have to be patient.
Jack Rathbone is a smaller guy who is an excellent skater who plays with a lot of energy. He gets up in the play, good puck mover with a heavy shot from the point. He’s going back to high school and off to Harvard after that.
With the first pick acquired in the trade down with the Blackhawks, the Canucks selected D+2 defenceman Kristoffer Gunnarsson from Sweden. Obviously, he is a little more developed but Brackett had very good things to say:
Gunnarsson is a 97, we saw him at the World Juniors this year. He’s a very different style. He’s an abrasive, hard defender who contains really well and has a good stick. But he’s very smart. His first reads and first passes are clean. He is playing in the senior leagues and is more experienced.
On the flip side of the size spectrum, the Canucks selected overage forward Petrus Palmu from the Owen Sound. The shortest player selected by any team in the NHL this year, Brackett spoke highly of the young Finn:
He was tremendous this year. Owen Sound was very successful and high powered but Palmu, for us, was one who drove the offence for them. He’s a two-way guy. Obviously, when you look at him on a roster, the height catches you by surprise but I think in our eyes, he’s a stocky fire hydrant type. Can play through traffic and sticks. Has a high hockey sense.
With the last pick of the draft, the Canucks selected D+1 defenceman Matthew Brassard from the OHL. He was a player they had an eye on last year too:
Matthew is someone we identified a bit last year in Barrie. But he had limited games and reps so he was a player that we wanted to keep an eye on. Traded mid-season to Oshawa and at that point took over their powerplay. Was a guy who we targetted early on.
Before the scrum broke out, Brackett had some interesting thoughts about their thought process in their selections.
We identified players and targetted them in certain rounds and they were there. We were fortunate in some spots. Now we turn them over to player development. Some of it is on them, and some of it on us in their development paths.
Knowing that we had the second pick of the second round that we could really target a player or two. Kole did things that were certainly deserving of being a first round pick, so we feel fortunate and got good value there.
Teams were active and calling, and so were we. We thought where we targeting players that they might still be there. A chance to add another pick in the later rounds and just increase our percentages of finding players.
Brackett was asked again if he felt that things shook out how he expected it to go
Yeah, the players that were there were still there. It was a wise decision [trading down] and it is certainly looking as something we do again in the future.
Looking at the Canucks draft class in their entirety, there is little doubt that the Canucks did very well with their crop. But those final comments from Brackett are extremely encouraging as it shows that they are trying to increase their odds of extracting players from the draft while still getting the players that they are targeting.
Obviously, we won’t know for a few years how this draft class will shake out, but overall there is a lot to like about what the Canucks did here in Chicago.