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Photo Credit: Gary Ahuja / Langley Times

Your Guide to Scouting the 2019 NHL Draft From Vancouver

If you’re living on the Canadian west coast, you have no shortage of reasons to be enthralled by the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. For one, the local team has been decidedly bad the past few years, and in spite of a bevy of talent percolating in the pipeline, the Canucks seem poised to finish the 2018-19 as a lottery contender once again.

Even more intriguing, however, is the fact that the 2019 Draft will be held right in our own backyard, taking place in Rogers Arena for the first time since 2006 (when the building was of course known as General Motors Place).

I also don’t think I’d be too out of line suggesting that the mere existence of CanucksArmy, and the writers that it has provided to other outlets in Vancouver, has increased not only the fanbases competency for draft-related material, but its interest in it as well. Availability of good information can indeed lead to greater interest in the source matter.

For those of you who aren’t swayed by numbers and the opinions of others alone (and that should apply to everyone who wants to form an opinion on a hockey prospect), but you don’t have the time or resources to go jet-setting around the world scouting the planet’s best 17-year old hockey players, then what you need is for the top prospects to come to you.

This is the perfect year for that attitude: while the draft classes in recent years have been a bit light on WHL talent (outside of Nolan Patrick, who spent much of his draft year injured and missed the only game his team was scheduled to play in Vancouver), the upcoming draft class is chock full of WHL talent.

But it gets even better: Vancouver, along with Victoria, will also be hosting the 2019 World Junior Championship, giving you a chance to see a few more top prospects that aren’t playing in local leagues.

This season, if you play your cards right (and get a little lucky), you might be able to see as many as seven top-ten 2019 draft picks (and a handful more first rounders) without ever getting on a plane, and several of those without even leaving the BC lower mainland. What follows is a guide to watching the top 2019 NHL draft prospects with your very own eyeballs, without straying too far from home (assuming your home is somewhere around Vancouver).

The World Juniors

It’s generally quite rare for a draft-eligible prospect to appear in the top division of the World Junior Tournament, an under-20 competition typically dominated by draft-plus-one and draft-plus-two players – only the very best undrafted prospects available even get a sniff.

This year, just like in 2016 with Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, the projected top two picks are American and Finnish, and both will likely have an opportunity to show their talents on junior hockey’s biggest stage.

The presumptive first overall selection, Jack Hughes, is likely to not only make the US squad, but be the best player on it. He has been absolutely dominant with the US National Development Team, leading the squad in points per game. He finished with the most points against USHL competition, clearing teammate Oliver Wahlstrom by nearly 10 points. Wahlstrom of course is a year older and was just drafted 11th overall this past June.

The aforementioned Finn is Kaapo Kakko. As I mentioned in the season-opening consolidated draft rankings on Tuesday, Kakko is off to a hot start in the Finnish Liiga, having grabbed six points in his first five games. He hasn’t slowed down yet, grabbing another goal in his most recent game.

Kakko might not be the only draft eligible player representing his country however, as Anttoni Honka, a top defensive prospect, was invited to the Summer Showcase back in July and August. Additionally, there were a pair of players on the summer rosters that weren’t selected in the drafts for which they were originally eligible: Canada’s Joel Teasdale and Finland’s Linus Nyman.

Here’s the rub: both the USA and Finland will be playing their round robin games at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria (tickets here). Two quarter-finals will be played at each Victoria and Vancouver, while the relegation matches (in which neither the USA or Finland is likely to take part in), semi-finals and finals will be at Rogers Arena.

The quarter-finals involve group crossover and the exact schedule is dependent on where Canada places (if they make the quarters, they are guaranteed the 3:30 pm game in Vancouver), so it is still conceivable the both the Americans and the Finns play their quarters in Vancouver, and it’s possible that they both make the semis and even the finals – these two nations faced off in gold medal games at the U18 World Championships in both 2017 and 2018.

Still, even if the USA and Finland don’t play many (or any) games in Vancouver, you can still visit Victoria by ferry, so my no-planes promise holds true.

(Note: all distances below are calculated from Rogers Arena, an arbitrary starting point within Vancouver.)

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Jack Hughes Team USA December 26, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Kappo Kakko/Anttoni Honka Team Finland December 26, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Kappo Kakko/Anttoni Honka Team Finland December 27, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Jack Hughes Team USA December 28, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Kappo Kakko/Anttoni Honka Team Finland December 29, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Jack Hughes Team USA December 29, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km
Jack Hughes/
Kaapo Kakko/Anttoni Honka
Team USA vs
Team Finland
December 31, 2018 Victoria Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre 114 km

The full World Junior schedule is available here.

The WHL

If you’re looking to scout the 2019 draft without leaving metro Vancouver, then there’s no player that you’ll get more views on than Bowen Byram. The crafty blueliner is entering his second full season as a member of the Vancouver Giants, meaning that you’ll be able to catch him for 34 home games (health permitting), before playoffs factor in. Here’s a link to the Giants’ home game schedule this season so that you can plan accordingly.

Because of the conference situation, not all of the WHL prospects will be visiting the Langley Events Centre this year. Saskatoon’s Kirby Dach will though, as the Blades are scheduled to visit Vancouver on November 27th.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Kirby Dach Saskatoon Blades November 27, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km

For some of the other top prospects, you’ll have to get a little more creative. You’ll be able to catch both Peyton Krebs and Dylan Cozens without paying for airfare, as they’ll both pay a visit to Seattle this season, on November 30th and January 25th respectively. Krebs and the Kootenay Ice will also play in Everett on December 1st.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Peyton Krebs Kootenay Ice November 30, 2018 Seattle, WA Accesso ShoWare Center 265 km
Peyton Krebs Kootenay Ice December 1, 2018 Everett, WA Angel of the Winds Arena 185 km
Dylan Cozens Lethbridge Hurricanes January 25, 2019 Seattle, WA Accesso ShoWare Center 265 km

The Edmonton Oil Kings’ Matthew Robertson, a potential mid-first round pick, will also hit both Everett and Seattle, on November 12th and 13th respectively. Robertson is a big defender with good straight ahead and a knack for thinking quickly and making smart, instinctive plays up ice.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Matthew Robertson Edmonton Oil Kings November 12, 2018 Everett, WA Angel of the Winds Arena 185 km
Matthew Robertson Edmonton Oil Kings November 13, 2018 Seattle, WA Accesso ShoWare Center 265 km

There are plenty of other players to scout as we move on through the early rounds. Nolan Foote, younger brother of Tampa Bay 2017 first round selection Cal Foote, and son of Adam Foote, will visit the LEC four times this year, on October 21st, January 27th, and March 1st and 15th.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Nolan Foote Kelowna Rockets October 1st, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Nolan Foote Kelowna Rockets January 27, 2019 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Nolan Foote Kelowna Rockets March 1, 2019 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Nolan Foote Kelowna Rockets March 15, 2019 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km

Sasha Mutala of the Tri-City Americans will visit the Giants on back-to-back nights to kick off December, playing at the Pacific Coliseum on December 1st and the LEC on December 2nd. Seattle’s Dillon Hamaliuk will be in town on September 28th and October 27th. Luke Toporowski and the Spokane Chiefs will play at the LEC on September 30th and February 15th.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Dillon Hamaliuk Seattle Thunderbirds September 28, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Luke Toporowski Spokane Chiefs September 30, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Dillon Hamaliuk Seattle Thunderbirds October 27, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Sasha Mutala Tri-City Americans December 1, 2018 Vancouver Pacific Coliseum 7 km
Sasha Mutala Tri-City Americans December 2, 2018 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km
Luke Toporowski Spokane Chiefs February 15, 2019 Langley Langley Events Centre 44 km

The BCHL

High end prospects in British Columbia aren’t limited to major junior. Every year, a handful of players are drafted out of the BCHL, easily the strongest of Canada’s junior A leagues. The BCHL has seen a few first round picks in the NHL draft in recent years as well (including Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro, and Dennis Cholowski), and it’ll produce another first round talent this year in Alex Newhook. With BCHL franchises scattered around the lower mainland, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to see Newhook cruise through town with his Victoria Grizzlies. He’ll play in Surrey on October 28th, Coquitlam on November 16th, and Langley on January 11th.

Player Team Date City Arena Distance
Alex Newhook Victoria Grizzlies October 28, 2018 Surrey South Surrey Arena 45 km
Alex Newhook Victoria Grizzlies November 16, 2018 Coquitlam Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex 27 km
Alex Newhook Victoria Grizzlies January 11, 2019 Langley George Preston Arena 51 km

Beyond that, if you’re willing to travel to Victoria, or you’re already from there, here’s a link to the Grizzlies’ home games this season as well so you can become a full fledged Alex Newhook expert.

I’ve gone ahead and thrown the locations of these various arenas into a Google Map as well (hopefully it works), so you can get a feel for the potential travel involved in your future scouting endeavors.

  • Kanuckhotep

    “Availablility of good information can indeed lead to greater interest in the source material.” If you go the rest of the year you’ll not find a more succinct statement which IMO is suppose to capture the intended spirit of Canuck Army. Superb article through and through, Jeremy, you did your homework. Best of all at the draft held here next year you get to boo Bettman in person 🙂

  • Puck Viking

    Nice article.

    Hopefully Benning finally gets his act together at this deadline and loads up on picks.

    Using the waiver wire might be a great way to pick something up(Toronto has tough decisions to make) which would then allow you to move on from a player who might have value but brings little to the team such as a Gudbranson.

    There is no reason that MDZ and Puliot can not be replaced by Sautner and/or Joulevi come the deadline.

    If Edler stays healthy he should be worth a 1st if not a 2nd come playoff time.

    Considering we should finish last in the league as every team in the west got better and we got worse it makes it a lock to walk away with a top 4 or 5 pick. Any of Hughes, Kakko, Cozens, Byram or Dach would be a massive add to this franchise.

    This team does need to get creative though and fast with how to find several RHD prospects. This draft does not have much to offer at this time. Hopefully a RHD of value is there with our 2nd at the very least and they draft 3 or 4 more of them with our picks plus with what ever is acquired.

    • Bud Poile

      Sautner was just waived so his ascension status is questionable,at best.
      Edler wants an extension.
      Gudbranson is an RHD asset that needs to be traded for full value given the organisational hole.
      With zero RHD’s ready for prime NHL ice time in the Canucks system the waiver wire is not where they will appear.

      • Puck Viking

        Carrick will be on waivers and is better than several of our defensemen. You are filling a hole for the season so that you can move current players for futures.. not building a cup contender..

        • Bud Poile

          It’s called asset management.
          That’s why you blog,PQW,and your mate Gillis is unemployed.
          Vancouver is not a cup contender and won’t be for five years.

      • East van canuck

        Guddy is an anchor not as asset. No one wants an outdated, slow, injury prone non point producing D-man in todays NHL, hence the lack of offers forcing Benning to re-up him.

        The elite Canucks team D-corp of 2011 who won the Presidents trophy and did rather well in the playoffs I recall had only two legit RHD (Bieksa and Salo) so this is a non issue. Having played the position this is a fact based on consummate experience and knowledge.

          • East van canuck

            Umm, Tanev was a newbie spending most of his time in the minors in 2011, he played just 25 NHL games and only 5 in the playoffs – Ehrhoff was in fact first choice D man … another lefty playing on his offside and leading the team in points on D… i repeat playing on his offside.

    • Burnabybob

      “If Edler stays healthy he should be worth a 1st if not a 2nd come playoff time.“

      Doesn’t Edler have a NTC? GM’a are reluctant to trade picks these days. Prospects seem easier to come by.

  • I can see a lot of work is going into these 2019 draft articles, however I question the timing. Hockey season is finally back, pre season ends this weekend, and regular season starts next week. Who’s thinking about the 2019 draft, other than guys like Jim Benning?

  • TD

    Nice article Jeremy. I watched the Grizzlies beat the top ranked Vees earlier this year, Newhook had 3 assists, two of which were ridiculous. I agree with the earlier comment and am hoping the kids learn quickly in Utica so Benning gets lots of extra picks and makes a big splash at the draft next June. If they start well, Sutter, Tanev, Baertschi and others could all land upper end picks for the team.

  • LTFan

    Good article Jeremy. May be a bit early to be thinking of the draft per se. The best thing about the article is that we, the fans, can pencil in some games to go to in the lower mainland and have a look at some of the players mentioned.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Totally off topic. 46 years ago today Sept 28/72 Paul Henderson scored arguably the most famous goal in all of hockey history when Canada beat the Soviets in the iconic Summit Series in the 8th game in Moskva.( at 1228P PDT time but who noticed?) The bar for hockey would be forever raised worldwide perhaps because of this being the most important hockey ever played. Tretiak and Kharlamov were two players inducted into the hall of fame from that series and in 2018 a third guy, Alexander (Big Yak) Yakushev is also being honoured. Altogether that makes 9 Soviet/Russian HOF members including some guy named Pavel Vladimirovich Bure. Those guys brought something to the game and made it better. Gee, is Ovid going to the hall?