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Photo Credit: © Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Are The Canucks’ Most Recent First Rounders Trending Up Or Down Post-Draft?

This article aims to take a look at the most recent Vancouver Canucks first round draft picks, with the overall goal of determining whether those players have had their stocks rise or drop in the years since their draft date—in other words, is their value trending up or down? Since only a few months have passed since the selection of Quinn Hughes 7th Overall, we’ll have to excuse him from this exercise. Realistically, we should also exclude Elias Pettersson, as well, as the majority of his draftmates haven’t had a chance to crack the NHL quite yet—but it’s just too much fun to talk about how much his stock has risen. We’re also leaving Jared McCann out of the equation for simplicity’s sake.

It should be noted that four of the players listed below—Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser, and Jake Virtanen—were selected by GM Jim Benning, in addition to Hughes. The last player on the list, Bo Horvat, was picked by Mike Gillis and company.

 

Methodology: In short, this exercise was done rather unscientifically. We looked at past draft lists, checked their stats, and looked at a few fan re-drafts to try to create a list of players that should rank ahead of the various Canuck first rounders in hindsight. Due to the highly subjective nature of these selections, we split them into two camps—Definitively Better Picks and Possibly Better Picks—and then compared those with the Canuck player’s actual draft position to determine their Adjusted Draft Position. That range of numbers is meant to approximate where each player would go if a re-do of their draft class occurred today—though there is obviously still plenty of room for debate, as you’ll no doubt see in the comments below!

 

Elias Pettersson

Drafted: 5th Overall in 2017

Definitively Better Picks: None

Possibly Better Picks: Miro Heiskanen

Adjusted Draft Position: 1st-2nd Overall (Trending UP)

It’s been less than a year-and-a-half since Pettersson was drafted, but it’s hard not to argue that his stock has still risen in meteoric fashion in the interim. Pettersson is currently dominating the NHL as a rookie and seems to have catapulted himself ahead of 1st and 2nd Overall picks Hischier and Patrick despite their solid pro performances thus far. The only real contender for Pettersson’s 2017 NHL Entry Draft crown is defenseman Heiskanen, who is also doing things that resemble dominating the NHL as a rookie down in Dallas. The smart money is still on Elias, but there’s a good chance these two will be duking it out for 2017 draftee supremacy for years to come.

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Olli Juolevi

Drafted: 5th Overall in 2016

Definitively Better Picks: Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller, Mikhail Sergachev, Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Chychrun, Alex DeBrincat, Jesper Bratt, Victor Mete

Possibly Better Picks: Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyson Jost, Dennis Cholowski, Brett Howden, Samuel Girard, Max Lajoie, and possibly more

Adjusted Draft Position: 12th-19th Overall (Trending DOWN)

This exercise was never going to be kind to Juolevi, so we’ve decided to be a bit generous to him in order to compensate. Any way you slice it, Juolevi would be drafted much lower in a 2016 re-draft, as a multitude of his draftmates have gone on to prove themselves as valuable NHLers. That number has increased with Juolevi in the AHL to start the season while others are making their big league debuts, but his success with Utica has at least allowed his stock to remain ahead of those other 2016 draftees still toiling away in the minors. A 2016 re-draft should still result in Juolevi being taken in the first round, but it wouldn’t be entirely outlandish for someone to slot him outside of their top 30—and that says a lot. There’s still plenty of time for Juolevi to climb this list, but he’s got some serious catching up to do.

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Brock Boeser 

Drafted: 23rd Overall in 2015

Definitively Better Picks: Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mikko Rantanen, Mathew Barzal, Ivan Provorov 

Possibly Better Picks: Mitch Marner, Sebastian Aho, Zach Werenski, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot 

Adjusted Draft Position: 6th-11th Overall (Trending WAY UP)

Boeser was never going to surpass McDavid or Eichel, but he belongs in the incredibly solid glut of talent that succeeded them in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. At this point in their careers, Rantanen, Barzal, and Provorov have proven themselves a bit more than Boeser, but there’s still plenty of time for him to catch up to any of them. In order to do so, he’ll need to keep ahead of an impressive cast of 2015 draftees, but in any scenario, Boeser likely jumps at least a dozen spots in any 2015 re-draft—quite a leap just three years after the fact.

 

Jake Virtanen 

Drafted: 6th Overall in 2014

Definitively Better Picks: David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad, Brayden Point, William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dylan Larkin, Sam Reinhart, Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Tuch, Brandon Montour

Possibly Better Picks: Nick Schmaltz, Kevin Fiala, Robby Fabbri, Ondrej Kase, Danton Heinen, Adrian Kempe, Christian Dvorak, and possibly more.

Adjusted Draft Position: 12th-20th Overall (Trending DOWN)

That being said, this sort of exercise would have looked a lot more unfavourable to Virtanen last year, before his breakout, hashtag-inducing hot start to the 2018/19 season. Yes, #ShotgunJake’s stock has dropped significantly since the 2014 Draft, and there are a litany of players that the Canucks probably should have picked instead of him—including bona fide superstars like David Pastrnak and Brayden Point—but his ranking on this list actually represents a marked improvement on his overall value around the league. Those who persist in referring to Virtanen as a bust should take note of the fact that he would almost certainly stay in the first round if the 2014 Draft were conducted today—and he might even stay in the top half of it.

Bo Horvat 

Drafted: 9th Overall in 2013

Definitively Better Picks: Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Seth Jones

Possibly Better Picks: Sean Monahan 

Adjusted Draft Position: 4th-5th Overall (Trending UP)

Way back in 2013, the Vancouver Canucks shocked the hockey world by trading Cory Schneider for the 9th Overall draft pick, and then they pulled off a slightly smaller surprise by selecting Horvat in that spot though most pundits had him ranked lower. Five years later, it’s hard to argue that Mike Gillis and the gang didn’t know exactly what they were doing. Horvat will probably never reach the lofty heights of his three elite draftmates—MacKinnon, Barkov, and Jones—but he slots in nicely after them as the probable fourth best player in his class. Calgary’s Monahan might also deserve that distinction, but it’s a real toss-up between the two of them. Everyone else in the 2013 draft class is at least a step behind.



  • Freud

    Remember when Benning was trying to trade for Lucic and publically stated he was close. LA gave up their first rounder that year for one year of Lucic. We all know Benning was offering the pick that became Boeser. Luckily, Benning got out Benning’d by Lombardi. The accidental rebuild was in full swing.

    Despite the fact Brackett has been making the drafting decisions, Benning is largely supported because of his “drafting”. This shows his drafting in the first round is average at best. A coin flip in the first rounds would have provided similar results. So if his drafting prowess is a myth, what have we got left after the bad contracts and bad professional evaluations?

  • Matty T

    The best pick of the lot is Bo Horvat at 9… a gutsy, franchise changing choice and an undeniably outstanding piece of business by GMMG – Cory who?

    Worst pick hands down is Benning dropping the ball TWICE by choosing Virtanen and then McCann over David Pastranak… why? because Benning above every other GM KNEW how good this kid was – HE scouted him for Boston ffs!

    As you all know, Pastranak is a legit NHL superstar who has 17 goals in 18 games already, he is a career PLUS 40 and has elite point totals and underlying metrics.

    I hate the Juolevi bust pick but there are no excuses whatsoever for the ‘draft guru’ letting Pastranak slide TWICE in the same draft i’m afraid – Benning must be held to account for this dreadful error…

    • Sandpaper

      No doubt Gillis is the greatest GM in history and Benning is the worst of all time.
      Now that you have convinced me, at least, do you think you could provide something to the comments section, other than how great Gillis is and how bad Benning is.
      Maybe you could tell us about the great managerial decisions Gillis has made since he moved on from the Canucks, as compared to Benning’s decisions during that same timeframe.
      Thanks for your wonderful input.

      • Fred-65

        Well Gillis did show his smarts as he was given a $10 mil extension, I believe, and then went on to another passion of his, teaching, Professor of law at U Vic. and draw his huge negotiated salary. I kind of think I could handle that too … 🙂 Benning on the other hand was signed to a modest extension likely because he had little bargaining power. Gillis won two Presidents trophies and went to game 7 of the SC finals. Follow the money baby 🙂

      • Gillis being absent from the NHL since he was fired from the Canucks has a lot more to do with his refusal to play politics and suck up to the old boys club than it does his record as a GM.

      • apr

        I agree with this. I think if he did pick Pasternak, he would have been blackballed by the old school fraternity, and would have altered the hiring process for assistant GMs.

      • Matty T

        What part of JIM BENNING scouted Pastranak as an employee of the Boston Bruins, so therefore had superior knowledge of the player, don’t you get pal! – the lack of intelligence and humility on this board is truly alarming.

    • tyhee

      I would have liked to see McCann in the list. The fact he is no longer with the Canucks doesn’t affect whether he has trended up or down and he was a 1st round pick more recently than Bo.

      While it would be great to have drafted Pastrnak, I don’t think he was rated highly enough for anyone to have considered him with the #6 pick used on Virtanen. McCann was rated higher than Pastrnak on most draft lists.

      A pick is only so bad as to be inexcusable if there isn’t a reasonable argument for it. I view the McCann pick as arguable so think missing on Pastrnak was unfortunate but not inexcusable.

      • If you’re picking top-10, you need to get the best player available. After that, you should be happy to land a solid NHLer – there’s just too much variability when you get past the sure-fire top-ten players. I don’t think it’s really fair to criticize the McCann pick – as you say, he was well-regarded and he’s gone on to play almost 200 NHL games already, which is totally respectable for a late 1st-round pick. The Virtanen and Juolevi picks, though, are absolutely fair game.

  • North Van Halen

    It’s seems as if the CA staff has found their new topic to toss into articles like a bomb and casually walk away from knowing it’s going to feed the trolls and get a hundred comments.
    The Guddy/Sutter trades aren’t getting the rise they used to so bring up Oli & Jake’s draft position. Curious if they send an advanced copy of these articles to Freud and MattyT/Schizo boy so they can get their arguments ready.
    Oh thats right, they can just cut and paste their last 50 identical comments

  • NeverWas

    Cool exercise, well done. Interesting the quality of picks despite some of them falling a bit in the “adjudt draft” it’s a pretty solid group of picks and I think more spots were gained in the redraft than lost. I think that’s all you can ask for…

    Thanks for the read!!

  • apr

    I love 20-20 hindsight. Kidding aside, I appreciate the work and attempt to stir debate. But if you are playing this game, you have to add a definitely better category – because Jake is definitely better than Dal Colle and Bennett; OJ and Puljiarrvi are a wash, and he’s definitely better than Nylander. Balance would be nice.

  • Kootenaydude

    Funny thing about the hindsight experts. They never say anything about this years draft. You won’t see any of these clowns make predictions on which players will be the best. Pasternak wasn’t on any of these clowns radar. Yet they try to act like they knew he was going to be a star. If you’re all such experts. Tell me who will be the best player, out of the top ten, of this years draft. Tell me who the second round draft prospect is that people missed out on. Until then. Your drafting knowledge means jack sh*t.

    • Who is this comment directed at? Canucks Army publishes draft rankings every year – you can go back and read them if you like, and you can find comments from regulars who have been here awhile discussing the rankings and sharing their own opinions.

      If this comment is directed at our resident multi-account-holding troll, why bother?

      • Holly Wood

        OMG, there it is again. “CA publishes a draft list”. Don’t really mean to disrespect the work the CA staff do to make this site operate, but c’mon. These guys are not scouts, they are not ex players either. Some have good viewpoints but this is more fantasy land than anything.

      • Kootenaydude

        I don’t have a problem with the CA writers. They have the balls to make predictions and rank players. Unlike the “We should have picked Pastrnak poster”!

  • Bud Poile

    Stating that Virtanen and Joulevi are ‘trending down’ is disingenuous at best and illustrates a lack of common sense. Here’s how the Great Gillis turned the Canucks from a generational powerhouse into a team with next to nothing in the stables:

    10:45
    “My biggest regret in actually running the VC’s is that I didn’t change the scouting staff and system early enough.
    I should have done that a lot quicker.
    With our group we felt we could work through a better process-make things better-and we came to the conclusion too late that that wasn’t the case.
    The process of how the draft list evolved and,umm,and uh,was finally formulated…..I found just,ha, I had real problems with how that process occurred and I thought we could change the process and get better results ummm,but we should have been changing more people quicker to affect that.
    I wanted a chance to evaluate it properly.
    Through our senior mgmt. group we decided we were going to try and affect change by improving the process and improving information and getting better information and doing things differently,and,um,we waited too long at that.”

    https://www.tsn.ca/radio/vancouver-1040/gillis-on-regrets-and-achievements-with-canucks-hodgson-saga-1.1189506

  • El Kabong

    Great idea for an article. I just have one request and that is you pull out all the picks that went before ours and put them in a different category. Doesn’t make sense to me to have them listed as either Definitively Better Picks or Possibly Better Picks if we never had the chance to take them at all.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      You’ve missed the point. The article is comparing the performance of Canuck picks against the draft class, and in the case of EP the writer concludes in hindsight that he should have been picked much higher.

      • Bud Poile

        Comparing Virtanen to D Ekblad,whom went first overall, told me the depth displayed herein.
        Virtanen was a power forward projection pick.
        If I could have the other power forwards picked in that draft and how they fared the piece would hold some interest to me.
        This is Captain Hindsight at his best and we have a banned member that still provides plenty of that in every second post here under a dozen monikers. Don’t we Jackson?

  • Hockey Bunker

    Ridiculous. Can’t even establish a trend this early. Good or bad. If had Nylander he’d be holding out on Canucks for example and would they have drafted Pettersson. I prefer to look forward than with 20-20 hindsight specs..

  • speering major

    Definitely a worthwhile exercise but you have look at this statistically also. To place a single pick against the entire draft class paints a misleading picture. It’s not dishonest but I think the audience won’t really understand

    Also I think Mete listed as definitely better is a big stretch. They played together and Oli was superior. Mete skates well but he’s not an impact player. It’s just far too early to say Mete is definitely better. Oli still has a higher ceiling and I doubt most scouts would “definitely” trade Oli for Mete.

  • Kanuckhotep

    You can make the correct point that Benning and even Gillis missed out on many prospects but so has everyone else. 14 teams passed on Boeser and Erik Karlsson and 15 teams on Matt Barzal. Lists are endless citing these kinds of “oversights.” How smart do you have to be picking McDavid, Matthews, Laine, Eichel, Ekblad, where they were picked in drafts, players the Canucks had no shot at? Juolevi is putting up impressive scoring points in Utica but mgmt will never put him on the big club until the D side of his game improves. He’s only 20. Pleased with Jake’s game and Bo is their true on ice leader. Certainly other teams have drafted better guys and others haven’t. It’s such an inexact science anyways and Benning&Co will just have to develop the players they’ve picked. Nothing wrong with Petey at #5.

    • Fred-65

      I think you’re right about every team/GM makes bad calls at the draft. That is the difference between teams that are successful and the ones that just do OK. The teams/GM’s who can continuously draft quality have the best success. Top ten picks should be quality player, after that it might be a bit of a coin flip. I read some where that 60% of 1st round picks make the NHL and on average approx. 20% of the rest. So when you have a top ten pick you better come away with a substantive player. Bad picks in the top ten set your franchise back likely a year or more. The jury is still out on Virtenen, Juolevi and McCann and that hurts the franchise. I will add for obvious reasons Virtanen looks better but he’s still behind Boeser in pts and will be 23 before the start of next season. Age is quickly become a detriment rather than a plausible excuse

      • Matty T

        Not picking Pastranak TWICE in the same draft has set this franchise back at least five years.

        The jury is NOT out on Juolevi and Virtanen – they are what they are – top six BUSTS. Many better game-changer options were ignored over these bums.

        McCann is totally irrelevant to the Canucks now just like Forsling, Tryamkin, McKenzie and Candella – they have moved on and were wasted ‘draft guru’ picks by Benning. Accept the truth. Lesson over.

        • DogBreath

          B O R I N G …. Same argument is weak and boring. How many other GM’s also missed on Pastrnak? Each year someone outperforms expectations of draft gurus and GMs. It doesn’t make them less quailified. It’s not uncommon for someone to go through a growth spurt, discover new confidence, be put with strong line mates causing them to outperform expectations.

        • Fortitude00

          Wingers are a dime a dozen and a lot easier to find then center, defense or goal tending. Sure Pastranek is a great player but his position is not going to change the state of a team that needed to find two centers 4 top 4 D and a goaltender for the future. When the McCann picked happened the analysts were all raving about his skill set and possibility to be a first line center one day. He was thought to be a sure top 6 center. If it weren’t for Elias filling that top 6 center spot the Canucks wouldn’t even be competing this year. I have no problem with the McCann pick.

    • To build on Kanuckhotep’s observation about picking players that the Canucks had no shot at, those players that were drafted ahead of the Canucks should have been excluded outright. How can they be better picks when they were never available to Benning in the first place? It only pads the list to make Benning and the player look worse.

  • Gampbler

    You lost me with the Victor Mete being definitely a better pick than Juolevi. Is this an exercise in better pick to this date or an exercise in the better pick?

  • TheRealPB

    I like the idea behind this article but the way you’ve constructed makes little sense. It comes across as little more than a popularity contest. Not only is it still too early to tell whether or not some players should have been higher or lower, as El Kabong points out, by including players that are well out of our draft position it gives kind of a misleading sense of our performance in the draft (though not of the draft overall).

    I know that the general proxy that’s often used of draft success is 200 games played. I think that can also be very misleading. Alex Biega is a hard worker to be sure. But the only reason he’s reached 143 NHL games is because the Canucks have been injury ravaged and had no depth for most of his time here.

    It would be great to have SOME methodology behind these rankings. Are they individual perceptions? Why is Chychrun a definite win over Juolevi? Because he’s decent parts of the two NHL seasons he’s been up? Because he just signed a six year contract? Because we THINK he’ll be a decent player despite the injury issues? What about Nylander and Ehlers? They set the league on fire their first couple of years but the latter is having an arguably much worse year than Virtanen this season and the former is on the verge of pulling a Leveon Bell.

    Again, interesting idea but the execution leaves much to be desired.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      The article could be expanded significantly without changing the results presented. And someone could come along, rightly, and argue that Player X is Definitely Better mostly because he was picked by Team Y due to the development he received there.

  • Dirk22

    No ones more sensitive to drafts than Benning supporters! You have an article claiming a Benning pick could arguably go #1 overall in a redraft which is amazing and you’re bent out of shape over Virtanen and Juolevi’s stock. It was a harmless, self-described subjective exercise to see what a redraft might look like based on the stock of players TODAY. Of course it can’t predict 10 years from now, but like we can with Pettersson we can make assumptions that some guys are really good, and some guys haven’t proven it yet.

    • truthseeker

      I agree with you on this one. This kind of “mental exercise” I don’t have a problem with because it establishes it’s flaws and also is not using (for the most part…drifts into that nonsense a little with the JV summary) hindsight bias. It’s simply stating how they slot given what they have or haven’t accomplished to this point. Plus it’s not making conclusions.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Articles like this are great for stimulating lively and opinionated discussion, but hindsight is still 20-20 vision. Need proof? Luke Robataille, highest scoring left winger in NHL history was drafted in the 9th round. 171st overall. 100 spots behind Tom Glavine, who also went on to a HoF career, but as a baseball player. Need more proof? Patrick Stefan and Alexandre Daigle. Both picked first overall, and both complete busts. And in their long history, the Canucks have drafted far worse first round picks than Julolevi and Virtanen, both of whom have a long way to go before a final verdict is delivered. Dan Woodley? Jason Herter? Libor Polasik? The immortal Mike Wilson? The list goes on and on.