When the Vancouver Canucks selected Owen Sound Attack forward Petrus Palmu in the sixth-round of the NHL Entry Draft, they sent a clear message to their fans about the change in philosophy taking hold in their front office. That message: skill is in high demand.
Canucks Select Petrus Palmu 181st Overall https://t.co/ca9fDYrkxU
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) June 24, 2017
Picking a player like Palmu suggests the Canucks are willing to go places they haven’t gone previously to find that skill. In year’s past, they might have overlooked a player standing at Palmu’s 5’6″, but not this time around.
This time they sacrificed a little defensively to gain a lot at the other end of the ice. And they leaned heavily on analytics to help them arrive at that decision. Palmu checks in as the 13th ranked skater in the Canucks Army Pre-Season Prospect Rankings.
We’ve changed the qualifications up just a little bit this year. Being under the age of 25 is still mandatory (as of the coming September 15th), but instead of Calder Trophy rules, we’re just requiring players to have played less than 25 games in the NHL (essentially ignoring the Calder Trophy’s rule about playing more than six games in multiple seasons).
Graduates from this time last year include Brendan Gaunce, Troy Stecher, and Nikita Tryamkin, while Anton Rodin is simply too old now, and Jake Virtanen is not being considered solely as a result of his games played.
What might surprise some of you about Palmu is the way he carries himself. He’s not a shy, perimeter player by any means. Palmu gets around the net and dominates from below the hashmarks. He’s crafty in puck retrieval, and his low centre of gravity makes him near impossible to push off the puck once it’s on his stick.
You can tell as much just by looking at where the majority of Palmu’s goals came from last season. The largest concentration comes from the slot, and particularly in the area we commonly refer to as the power forward’s office.
Canucks Director of Amateur Scouting, Judd Brackett, said it best “Physically, he’s short, but I would not call him small”. I tend to agree with Brackett’s assessment. Palmu’s stocky — built like a fire hydrant.
My one concern with Palmu is that he hadn’t dominated the OHL until last season, in his draft-plus-two campaign. Even with all Palmu surrenders in height, that puts him at a significant advantage concerning his development as a player relative to his peers in junior hockey.
Furthermore, Palmu happened to be playing on one of if not the best, most productive line in the entire OHL last season alongside Nick Suzuki and fellow Canucks prospect Jonah Gadjovich (taken four rounds earlier). I don’t think Palmu was a passenger — not by any means –, but I wonder how much his offensive outputs were elevated by virtue of playing on that line.
It seems, at a glance, that pGPS reflects these concerns. In Palmu’s draft season he had an Exp. Success rate of 4.1% by pGPS. That number dropped in his draft-plus-one season to 3.4%.
This season was Palmu’s first to sport a pGPS that suggests he’s worth the investment of even a late-round pick. It’s a good number, though. Based on Palmu’s last season, he currently carries a 25.6% Exp. Success rate and 54.7 Exp. Points per 82 games through pGPS.
One way we can find the noise through the signal is to use Jeremy Davis’ SEAL (Situational Era Age League) adjusted scoring. Those adjustments to Palmu’s scoring make his offensive output seem more human but don’t take the shine off of it completely. His 1.25 SEAL adjusted points per game rank 13th among first-time draft eligible players from his class.
What Does the Future Hold For Canucks Prospect Petrus Palmu? https://t.co/wzJI5Z4BMZ
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) July 5, 2017
Next season, Palmu will be playing with TPS of the Liiga in Finland. That’s a men’s league, so we’ll get a better grip on his ability to hang in there against heightened competition and more physically developed players soon enough.
For now, he seems as savvy a bet as one could hope to make in the sixth-round. The odds are stacked against Palmu, certainly. That’s always the case that late in the draft, though. Unlike most picks in that territory, the pay off could be huge.