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Photo Credit: Jukka Rautio

CanucksArmy’s 2018 “Midterm” Prospect Rankings: #10 Petrus Palmu

Author’s Note: The long-awaited moment is finally here. Today, we kick off the top ten of our “midterm” Canucks prospect profiles. As many readers have probably noticed, the series went a little off the rails this year in terms of scheduling. There are a number of reasons for this that all mostly relate back to the fact that for most of the writers here, hockey is still a side gig and life gets in the way. I was finishing my college program; Jeremy divided his time between fatherhood and completing his practicum; Ryan Biech’s family added another baby into the fold; and both he and J.D. are dividing their time between CanucksArmy, The Athletic Vancouver, and their respective radio gigs. Four of the site’s biggest contributors were severely limited in their ability to produce content, and the consistency of the prospect series suffered as a result. Luckily, it looks to be back on track and the remaining profiles should be out in relatively short order. So, before we get into our #10 profile, I’d just like to extend a sincere thank you to all the readers for their patience.

On day two of the 2017 draft, there was one quote from Judd Bracket that stood out above the rest, regarding 6th round pick Petrus Palmu:

“He’s short, but I would not call him small.”

Standing at just 5’7″, Palmu was one of the shortest players in his draft class, but he tips the scales at a healthy 180 pounds. For comparison, that’s just a few pounds shy of the weight Brad Marchand is listed at, and he’s no wilting flower.

Palmu was a swing-for-the-fences pick at the tail end of last year’s draft. His height makes him a long shot to make the NHL, but he appears to be one of the most skilled players in the Canucks’ system. His great rookie season in Finland’s SM-Liiga has done nothing to make any of us reverse that position, so he checks in at number 10 on our list.

Numbers:

Petrus Palmu 2017-18 SM-Liiga Statistics

GP G A P S S% CF%
59 17 19 36 217 7.8% 56%

Palmu had a very impressive rookie year for TPS Turku, finishing 35th in league scoring and first among rookies (albeit at a slightly older age than some of his peers). His numbers are particularly impressive considering his shot rates and relatively low shooting percentage. Palmu averaged over three and a half shots per game and finished the season with a 56% Corsi, which puts to rest any doubt that he could succeed against grown men.

pGPS:

In spite of his impressive rookie season, Palmu still looks like a long shot to make the NHL when viewed through the lens of the prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS). Based on pGPS, Palmu has an expected likelihood of success of 13%. While this may not seem impressive, it’s great for a sixth round pick especially considering his upside and the Canucks scouting department deserves full credit for unearthing him. Real Canucks heads will notice that one of Palmu’s successful matches is Petri Skriko, who was a good player on a very lackluster Canucks team in the ’80s. While the scoring rates pGPS uses to determine matches are adjusted for era, pGPS still undersells Palmu’s likelihood of success, if only because NHL teams seem more willing than ever to take chances on shorter players.

Scouting Report

Petrus Palmu is one of many fantastic-looking products of a 2017 draft that appeared to be largely the brainchild of Canucks Head of Amateur Scouting Judd Brackett and Analytics Department head Jonathan Wall. Jason Botchford penned a great piece on Palmu in early July of 2017 that explained how the Canucks leaned more on data in their most recent draft to help them unearth players like Palmu:

For years, perception has been the Canucks use data like Alain Vigneault used Keith Ballard — as little as humanly possible.

This past draft, however, the Canucks set aside their affinity for big players who are difficult to play against, and focused on skilled players with big data instead.

Has their little analytics heart grown three sizes right before our eyes? Is there now a bigger role in this organization for data?

“I think we’ve been incorporating that this past season as well as parts of the season before,” Linden said. “I think we’re relying on Jonathan Wall and Aiden Fox more to run data and see what pops out. Then we can talk about those players. Some aren’t fits, some are.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s a tool. Maybe a guy pops up and a scout will say, ‘you know I’ve always liked him’ and the (data) can be a piece that supports it. Or maybe a guy has great data and a scout will say ‘he’s not for me.’

While data obviously played a role, the Canucks scouting department likely saw a bevy of attributes they believed could translate to the pro level. Palmu has skill and speed to burn, showcasing great stickhandling ability in tight and the acceleration needed to separate himself from defenders at both the junior and professional level. Palmu has excellent vision, as his relatively equal goal and assist totals indicate. He has a great shot, which he is able to get off frequently. The release on his wrist shot is extremely quick, and he has an impressive slap shot as well; he even manned the point at times on Owen Sound’s power play during his junior career. Palmu is also extremely creative with the puck both individually and when feeding a pass to his teammates. This goal from his last season with the Attack perhaps best showcases his willingness to innovate offensively, as he scores what can only be described as one of the most unique and lacrosse-like goals in OHL history:

(Something I love about this goal that’s extremely underrated is the way he passes to himself under pressure by banking the puck off the back of the net.)

There will always be worries about the physical aspects of the game for players of his height, but Palmu’s performance against men in Finland’s top professional league will go a long way towards alleviating those concerns. I got the chance to watch a few TPS Turku games this season and was astounded at how good Palmu was at staying on the puck. So much focus is placed on the disadvantages short players have in professional hockey, but Palmu can actually use it to his benefit. Short players with a low centre of gravity can actually be incredibly difficult to knock off the puck, especially when they’re as well-conditioned as Palmu. I wouldn’t quite describe him as someone who “plays big” for his size, but he’s broad-shouldered, muscular, and his size has not deterred him whatsoever from the toughest aspects of the game. Palmu does some of his best work below the hash marks, and he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals. It’s that diversity in his offensive game that has helped him be effective at the pro level.

In short, I would not sleep on this kid. He’s the real deal. He proved he can succeed on the small ice surface in the OHL, and he proved he can succeed against men in Finland. Now all he has to do is put the two together.

The Canucks Army Midterm Prospect Rankings

#11: Jalen Chatfield #12: Evan McEneny
#13: Zack MacEwen #14: Guillaume Brisebois #15: Jack Rathbone
#16: Michael Carcone #17: Cole Candella #18: Brett McKenzie
#19: Matt Brassard #20: Lukas Jasek #21 – #22
#23 – #24 #25 – #27 #28 – #31

  • Bud Poile

    5’7″ and unafraid to make a living down below the hash marks.
    Many skilled players five-eight inches taller might draw inspiration just by watching him play.
    Like Ronning and Lupul,it’s hard not to root for this young man.

  • North Van Halen

    Nice to get the Canuck’s Army update and we all look forward to the completion of this series. Who doesn’t root for the underdog and hope for success for this guy.
    That said, is it not possible for you guys to give Linden or Benning credit for anything? Palmu “appeared to be largely the brainchild of Canucks Head of Amateur Scouting Judd Brackett and Analytics Department head Jonathan Wall.” Did Benning have any say you think? No? How about credit for overhauling the scouting department and putting those 2 in charge of late picks? No? Neither?
    That’s right, Benning is braindead. He ignores analytics and hates anyone with a different view especially those hired by Gillis. Thus he put Brackett & Wall, a Gillis leftover and an analytics guy, 100% in charge of the draft and left the room.
    Jackson try this mantra, ‘Maybe Benning is just as smart as me.’ Repeat it until you believe it then try writing an article using it as one of the truths….cuz it is.

    • Ryan Biech

      Not everything is about Benning… should credit not be placed on the people who are in charge of making THOSE decisions?

      It’s widely known that the later round picks are due to the director of amateur scouting and thus shouldn’t they get praised when it works out – instead of the GM. Yes, Benning put those people in charge of making those decisions and should/does get praised for that. But each individual decisions praise should not be placed on Benning for just putting that person there.

      If anything, Benning gets the praise for changing what they were looking for in their draft picks AND then the praise goes for the other two for operating under that and finding someone like Palmu.

      • bobdaley44

        The buck stops with Benning and he’s the one making THOSE decisions. The other two present their case but ultimately Benning decides. Don’t discount Bennings frequent scouting treks during the season. He doesn’t go just to drink the coffee and mingle.

      • myshkin

        i heard a benning interview where he said that he personally watches the first round picks but for all the later picks he relies on his amateur scouts. if he was really sold on palme, he would have picked him in the 5th round.

        it’s the canuck pro scouts that seem to be the weak link.

        • Fred-65

          I think there’s been an uptick since Brackett was promoted to head amateur scout. While we all like the picks we don’t maybe recognize that Brackett has been a tonic to the amateur scouting. Good for him and good for JB to recognize his abilities and put him in place to flourish. There’s hope this guy will be with Vcr for a long time to come and we should relish that! For the record Brackett was promoted prior to the 2016 draft so he has to take responsibility for the Juolevi pick too.

          As to the Pro scouts, surely there has to be changes. Their record can’t be much better than 50% and that’s just not good enough IMO. Amateur scouts have a tougher time project youngster an all the frailties that accompany that. The pro scouts are dealing with mature veteran players

      • TD

        Ryan you are the most balanced and my favourite writer on the site and on the radio. Other writers do not seem to assess moves impartially and appear to have their own agenda. If you had written this article it would not have been significant that you gave Brackett the credit where it was deserved, but it seems more fair to criticize when a writer has an over arching focus on trashing Benning and rarely acknowledges the positive moves.

      • North Van Halen

        I have no problem with pointing out Bracket & Wall deserve credit, why can’t you guys give Benning the credit he deserves?
        This site lambasted Benning for letting Gilman go and there was more than a few writers basically saying it was because he was ‘too smart’ in the room and dissented to Bennings direction. It couldn’t have been because Gilman was assistant GM during the worst drafting period in Canuck history (which is shocking considering the awful teams we’ve had) and he may have wrote magic contracts for the 2011 run but these same deals screwed the team Benning inherited. And don’t get me started on how the ‘hockey man’ has been vilified here for eschewing stats and analytics. Yet somehow a Gillis era scout and an analytics guy are the sole reason we are drafting Petrus Palmu? C’mon man!
        Honestly, I’m not a Benning fan. Twice a year he does things that have me yelling at the tv. He has however, amassed the best group of prospects we’ve ever had. He’s also clearly bright enough to recognize the awfulness of the previous scouting staff and openminded and progressive enough to hire Wall & Brackett.
        Where’s those articles? I know, I know, Sutter, Gudbranson, repeat.

        • North Van Halen

          By the way, these comment are in response to what you said Ryan but not directed at you at all. Love the prospect report!!!! Hope daddyhood is treating you well!!!!!

    • Rayman

      guess what, GM only gets credit when they do their job good. Like going to playoff and winnig the division or something. Until than, they should NEVER get any credit what so ever.

      That’s why they are top dogs get paid top dollars.

  • speering major

    I watched the play twice before reading the next paragraph because on first glance it looked like an accident. After reading the claim he did this intentionally I watched it in slow motion and it is clear that the defenders stick causes a centering pass attempt to hit the net by accident.

    I don’t know the authors background and appreciate analytics but this is the concern. When you take someones POV you should take in to consideration their actual hockey sense. That will also play a role in what stats they value and by how much. The reason it looked like an accident on first glance is because of his body position and follow through. The direction of the puck didn’t react the way it should have (no I’m not a goalie). This is kind of intuitive to someone who plays the game or has experience. Maybe the author does have experience but I don’t know. Maybe he has already done a bio or perhaps he will create a multiple choice that includes being a former NHL’er to a part time beer league’r and then promise to never reveal the answer

  • ADS

    In terms of stature, I see slight similarities between Palmu and Martin St.Louis. Short but let’s like tree trunks which makes them very effective downlow because of their low center of gravity as well as added agility compared to the bigger guys. Not saying that Palmu has the same offensive ability as St. Louis but as a 6th round pick the early signs are very promising to become an NHLer in some fashion.

  • argoleas

    Taking a chance on this kid points to what is currently right in the Canucks organization. Hope to see more of this willingness to think outside the old-school box.

  • TD

    Thanks to all the writers for this series. An end of year prospect report series seems redundant at this point owing to the time of year, but it would be nice to see an report detailing an end of year list showing which players moved around in the order and why. I would imagine Sautner’s NHL showing, Jasek’s AHL performance and other playoff performances may have shifted the rankings around since this list was created at mid season.

  • DeL

    They’ve said for years that SM-Liiga was the elite European League closest to the NHL in physicality. Bring him over and see how he does in the AHL, at 5’7″ and 180 he sounds like a big man in a small package.

  • CanuckleheadOz

    BPA????
    All that is required is a cursory review of outcomes 5 and 10 years after drafts to recognise that this is an overused cliche used to support a position taken with the benefit of hindsight and frequently used to berate management of a team for their “obvious stupidity”.
    All that is required is a review of the exercise of “where would player x go in a redraft 5 years after the event” to realise that teams are working with varying versions of murky crystal balls in trying to predict the outcome of players.
    2013 – go all the way to 10th pick to find a player who “flamed out”, Nichushkin. Interestingly, his consensus ranking was 5th, so he dropped 5 positions. Maybe the hockey dinosaurs collectively knew something? Horvat was ranked 12, taken 9 btw, an equally egregious “reach” relative to OJ which is never decried on these boards any longer. I digress…

    2012 – underwhelming top 10 to say the least. Picks 1, 4 a total loss, Pouliot at 8 and Koekkoek at 10 both marginal nhl producers and #2, Murray, also not living up to his position (ref: one EG for a painful local example).

    Yet Linbenning are constantly berated for taking OJ at 5 when his consensus ranking was 7, the top-ranked d-man. Hardly a major reach compared to EP, who was ranked 5th by Hockey Prospect and variously from 7 to 20 by 11 others ranking services.
    Why the hate? Given the generally accepted narrative that D take longer to develop than forwards and that wingers are the most easily replaceable commodities, it appears to me to be quite reasonable that management went with the highest ranked D-man over 2 wingers at that point.
    Imagine the initial outrage had they “reached” for Charlie Mac, ranked 17. Yet they would now have been declared clairvoyants had they done so!

    Enough already – if we cannot slaughter the sacred cow of BPA, at least let’s recognise the egotistical application of it in many posts and see it for what it is, 20/20 hindsight applications in most cases with no insight into the lists a particular organisation might have had on the day which may well support that said organisation did, indeed, go with their version of BPA on the day – cloudy crystal ball notwithstanding.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I think they were generally praised by the writers at this site for taking Juolevi. I also agreed with the choice at the time. However, the lens of hindsight is used by everyone to assess performance, and now that we have it, it’s entirely germane to question the pick. You might reply “well, you all liked the choice, and it fit with the general consensus, so why would you criticize Benning for it?” The answer is that Benning is being paid quite handsomely to know better than me or Jeremy or Ryan Biech which players are ultimately going to pan out and which are going to flop (not saying OJ is a total flop yet, but it’s pretty obvious they would have chosen differently if they could do it over again). If Benning can’t do that better than me or a few blog writers, then it’s legitimate to question his competence. That might seem unfair, but that’s just the fact of life when you’re being paid to do any job that requires some sort of special ability: you’re evaluated on your performance. Benning does deserve praise for his successes (and while 2017 draft seems like it will end up being one), but equally deserves condemnation for his mistakes.

      • TD

        Its not you and a few blog writers. It was all the experts for the networks and the scouting sites. These people are professionals who make their living assessing talent. Many have been scouts and some have even been GM’s. Drafting 18 year old players is about playing the odds. Who has the best chance to be the best player. The odds won’t always work out. It is not fair to assess Benning on a single pick. Instead, he should be assessed over his body of work recognizing the odds will mean everyone misses sometimes. While its still early in some of the players’ development, Benning has missed on several picks and hit on others. Assessing his performance considering all the picks is fair.

      • CanuckleheadOz

        Ultimately it comes down to the standards we hold management to, Chris. Expecting that they hit on all picks is obviously unrealistic and nobody would purport to do so. JV 18 pick gets slammed and much more fairly than the OJ one, as this was more of a reach with a couple of good options in E and N being touted long before the draft and widely so. The potential reasons for the pick have been dissected to atomical level already with a focus on the “Boston Model” possibly being the most likely and worrying explanation – assuming that owner interference/override is being discounted. All the digital ink being spilt on JV and pillorying LinBenning only contains a reference to the failure by GMs’ bracketing the 6th pick less than5% of the time.
        I’m by no means a dyed-in-the-wool LinBenning apologist, just like to see balanced and reasoned assessments – preferably of a larger body of work and using fair comparators.
        Btw, as a long-time lurker and very infrequent poster, I must say that I appreciate your contributions here and elsewhere, Chris.