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Photo Credit: Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

What Does the Future Hold For Canucks Prospect Petrus Palmu?

The on-ice sessions of Vancouver Canucks development camp officially got underway today, as did the prospects media availability. For many, it was the first chance to see some of the Canucks newest players and interact with them in person.

One player that has been generating some intrigue is certain factions is Finnish born Petrus Palmu, a 5-foot-7 winger that the Canucks took 181st overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft two weekends ago, after he scored 40 goals and 98 points in 62 games with the Owen Sound Attack this past season. Palmu, who was in his third year of eligibility, was the shortest player taken at the entire draft. As surprising as it is that an NHL team would draft a 5-foot-7 player, it’s even more surprising that it was the Canucks that did, after years of rolling the dice on size and character and hard-to-play-against in the later rounds. That certainly speaks to their new mandate of speed and skill.

Palmu’s junior coach certainly didn’t think size was going to hold Palmu back. Owen Sound’s bench boss Ryan McGill, a former NHLer himself, didn’t mince his words, flat out telling TSN 1040’s Blake Price and Jeff Paterson that Palmu “will play in the NHL”.

“Well he’s gonna turn some heads in training camp,” McGill said.   He’s quick, he’s dynamic side-to-side.  He’s got one of the hardest shots in the league, and I know it’s not pro but he’s gonna surprise a lot of people with his release, and he’s going to surprise a lot of people with how hard his shot is.”

Part of what bodes well for Palmu is how highly skilled he is, but his sturdy build is a boon as well. He weights in at about 180 pounds, meaning that despite his diminutive height, he’s already got about 15 pounds on Canucks’ 5th overall pick Elias Pettersson. “This kid is such a dynamic player, he is so strong, he’s built for sure to play in the NHL.”

Our statistical measures are generally supportive of that bold statement, with pGPS giving Palmu an expected likelihood of success of 26%, as well as a relatively high expected production rate of 55 points per 82 games. All of this leads to an expected value of 14 (the product of Exp. Success and Exp. Production Rate), which is about what you’d hope for in the early-to-mid second round. For a 181st pick, that’s incredible value.

Even if McGill hadn’t accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Vegas Golden Knights, it isn’t likely that he would have Palmu again next season. Though he’s still technically a teenager, Palmu will turn 20 in less than two weeks, making him eligible to play in the American league this fall. He’s technically allowed to play another season as an overager in the OHL, but given that he’s also an import player, that’s highly unlikely. CHL teams are allowed just two import players and four overaged players, and a player that qualifies for both essentially takes up two slots instead of one. There’s also the fact that Owen Sound just picked up another import forward, Belarusian Vasili Filyayev, at the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

From the Owen Sound Times:

With each team eligible to dress two import players, Filyayev could take Petrus Palmu’s spot in the lineup should he not return next season. [Attack General Manager Dale] DeGray expects Palmu won’t be back, though the door has not entirely closed on him. As an import player and an overage player, he is placed on a frozen list.

“I don’t have to discard him. He is still a part of the Attack,” said DeGray. “If Vancouver ever said, ‘Hey, would you ever take Petrus Palmu back,’ then we have to look at that.”

After a 98 point season, it’s likely that Palmu is ready for more of a challenge, and the AHL is far from his only option. In fact, he’s already signed on to play in the Finnish Liiga with TPS Turku for the next two years.

“Maybe AHL or pro league in Finland,” he responded when Canucks Army’s Ryan Biech asked him about his plans for next year. “I have signed with TPS but we need to discuss that with the agent and with the Canucks.”

If the Canucks were to insist that Palmu stay and play in the AHL, he’d join an already formidable looking Comets squad that looks like it’ll get at least a couple of high end forward prospects. On the flip side, if he heads overseas, he’ll be one of a handful of young Canucks prospects plying their trades in Europe, with Nikita Tryamkin and Dmitry Zhukenov in the KHL, Lukas Jasek in the Czech Extraliga, and Elias Pettersson (and possibly Jonathan Dahlen) in the SHL.

You can’t really go wrong with either option, as the two leagues are comparable in terms of quality of competition. The obvious benefit of staying in North America is that he’ll learn Canucks systems under the close eye of Canucks management.

“I’m telling you, the sky’s the limit for this kid,” McGill proclaimed. “He will play in the National Hockey League one day and he’ll be a fan favourite.”

We’ll have to see how (and where) he develops next season first, but at this point I’m inclined to believe him.

  • Peachy

    Huh. I hadn’t realized his projections were that good. And the mic’d up video with emphasis on speed and skill was interesting. I’ve disagreed with basically everything GMJB did prior to this year’s deadline, but since then… Impressive body of work. Now if he could just find a home for Tanev in exchange for a very high end 19 or 20 year old prospect…

  • Steamer

    Thanks Jeremy – Same size as Cournoyer – & 2″ bigger than Bobby Lalonde, who played 641 NHL games. Like Palmu a lot, watched him – & Gadjovich – play some great hockey for Owen Sound this year – it wasn’t just Nick Suzuki, Palmu & Gadjovich were factors on that line. Particluarly interesting was how he was used QB’ing the PP.

    • TheRealRusty

      Great to see that you don’t take the summer off carrying GMJBTL’s jock straps CoolAid Bud. 😂 As much as i wish this prospect well, comparing him to past and future HHOF players at this early stage in his development is borderline insane. With a 25% chance if success, we will just be happy if he turned into a serviceable player for us….

  • Steamer

    Columnist Jim Taylor once referred to the Canuck scouts ( of the 70’s ) as ‘being the guys who tried to draft the 7 Dwarves’ , as Van had Andre Boudrias, 5’8″, Richard Lemieux, 5’8″ & Bobby Lalonde, 5’5″. I was at a Canuck vs. Minn North Star game in that era & saw Lalonde fight 5’11” tough guy, Dennis Hextall. Lalonde was a gamer, real pro. Expect Palmu is the same – great draft pick.

    • wojohowitz

      The one I will always remember was a playoff series against Calgary where Lupul was matched up against Joel Otto so Lupul tries to start a fight with him but Otto doesn`t want to fight him but just laughs.

      • Bud Poile

        Gary always reminds me of another great Canuck-Cliff Ronning:
        It’s an interesting fact about Gary (and I was too young to remember) that he signed with the Canucks as a free agent, and his first day of training camp was in none other than Powell River. Gary, just 5’7″ and probably not 165lbs soaking wet, squared off for a scrap with the biggest enforcer at the camp. As a first impression, it must have worked. He went on to not only make the team, but become one of the most exciting players on the roster. In fact, another all time great Canuck, Cliff Ronning, who would arguably go on to make Gary’s number 7 even more famous, insisted on wearing the number because Gary was his hero. “Gary Lupul was my idol,” Ronning said. “He was my inspiration as a young kid growing up.” Ronning was also a small forward, so he must have known that there were long odds against Gary’s success in the league, given his stature. But if you asked me when I was six years old, I’d have told you Gary was 10 feet tall.
        http://powtownpost.com/gary-lupul-the-pride-of-powell-river/

  • defenceman factory

    The clips of this kid sure do show a strong skill set.Good vision, lots of speed, hell of a shot. It would be interesting to see him in Utica this year. Hope Canucks make it happen.

  • Steamer

    Let’s not forget Gadjovich; really excited when Canucks chose him – can’t remember a draft when I was sold on nearly every pick, but especially so the first 3 this year. Was hoping we’d get Gadjovich, had watched him so many times, very heavy game down low & simply superb hand-eye – like Tanti or Burrows with the deflections.

    • Jimjamg

      Tanti level deflections is high praise. To this day I still think Tanti had the best ability to tip a slapper I have ever seen. His eye-hand coordination was off the charts. Probably scored 80% of his goals on deflections.

    • Elliot McKenzie

      Really? I liked some of the later picks but still unconvinced on the first two rounds. Would have preferred 6 foot 6 Nic Hague to replace Tryamkin for starters.

  • ENFORCER

    Unlike Theo and Kariya etc these tiny midgets don’t have ‘minders’ to look after them on the ice these days. The Ducks, Kings and Oilers will swat these little punks like flys. Should be fun watching that happen though.

  • TD

    From watching the video and seeing pictures of him from rookie camp, Palmu looks very stocky and and willing to engage physically. The fire hydrant definitely seems like a good analogy. Lots of skill. Awesome pick for 181st, just trying to stay tempered to the fact that he is almost 20 and just finished his D+2 season. He’s the same age as Zhukov, but put up way better numbers in a tougher league.

  • Beware of the little man. They make up for their shortness in other ways.
    This should give a glimmer of hope to Jordan Subban, if the NHL really does move towards skill first and away from brute strength and physical play.

    • jaybird43

      I think it’s a bit easier to be undersized as a forward than a D man. The forward gets to pick his location, whereas good D requires intersection at that point. To be a really small defenceman, you have to have a through the roof package. Hard to see Pat Kane or Johnny Hockey sized guy playing D. Your thoughts?

      • Bud Poile

        Generally,yes.
        Specifically individual d-men all bring different sizes and skillsets.
        Subban would have to have accumulated/demonstrated enough defensive skills for the NHL level in order to give him offensive placements.
        Krug is 5’9″ and Ellis is one inch taller.
        Subban is 5′ 9″.

  • SJ

    I ran into (almost literally) a bunch of the prospects in Whistler this past weekend while they were running around doing their scavenger hunt, then sat behind a group of them at a restaurant later that night (including Palmu, Juolevi, Chatfield, and Gadjovich). Palmu definitely surprised me. He may be short, but he’s really thick. He looks built to make the NHL for sure. If he doesn’t make it, it’s definitely not for lack of strength.

    • Marsh

      Never mind…I see he’s signed a two year contract with Orebro of the Swedish Elite League. Presumably the Csnucks retain his rights but this could be the best for his developmen