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Photo Credit: NHL.com

3 defencemen that the Vancouver Canucks could target with their third round draft pick

The Vancouver Canucks do not have a pick in the first or second round heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come away with a top prospect.

I wanted to look into three different defencemen who they could target with their third round pick. I’ve decided to add one defenceman who could drop in the draft and one who they can target later on in the draft as well.

The draft is just around the corner so let’s not waste any time.

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Yan Kuznetsov

At 6’4″ and over 200lbs, Kuznetsov is a big strong Russian defenceman with a good shot and decent skating.

He played in the NCAA last year after coming over to North America and playing in the USHL in 2018-19. He is already build like an NHL defenceman but lacks high end skating skill. His foot speed is not bad but he is just not quick enough to call a good skater.

Kuznetsov’s biggest strength is his strength. He is excellent at controlling the net front on the penalty kill and can bring offence with a strong shot that lacks accuracy but can surprise a goaltender.

He’s a big left handed shot with an upside of being a bottom four defenceman who kills penalties. Since he is already in North America, there is little to worry about with him being held in Russia on a KHL deal. He will enter his sophomore season in 2020-21 with Connecticut and would be a fun prospect to follow as he is consistently delivering big hits and being dominant on board battles with an active stick.

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Eemil Viro

Another left shot defenceman to keep an eye on is Eemil Viro. He is a six foot tall Finnish defenceman who is coming off playing 29 games in the Finnish Liiga last season with TPS.

His assistant coach is Sami Salo and we know that Salo still has a great relationship with the Canucks and their scouting staff. He would be a betting favourite of mine if he is available to the Canucks in the third round.

Viro moves the puck well, has quick feet and looks like the type of new age NHL defenceman we’re seeing find more and more success. He looks like a thinner Olli Juolevi but attacks while defending instead of waiting for the opposition to come to him.

At just under 170 pounds, he is a bit undersized right now but looks the part of a defenceman who understands how a play develops. He has a lot of room to grow as a player but you love to see him making plays and scoring goals in the Finnish top league at such a young age.

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Axel Rindell

As one of the oldest prospects available in the 2020 draft — he turned 20 on April 23rd of this year — Alex Rindell has a lot to like about his game. He is coming off a season in Liiga where he scored six goals and added 16 assists in 47 games.

He is currently playing on a third pairing with Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga and as an overage player in the draft, he could be a steal if he continues to grow his offensive game.

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Rindell has an accurate shot and sets up a lot of scoring chances. He is a right shot defenceman who could really bring some offence to an NHL bottom pairing if he were to continue to progress.

Brock Faber (Potential Faller in Draft)

Not only does he have the best name in the draft, he also fits the Canucks needs on the back end to a tee.

A right shot defenceman who can skate, pass, shoot and defend. Faber is 6 feet tall and just shy of 200 pounds. He played with the USNTDP last year and will be moving on to the University of Minnesota this Winter.

Faber is excellent at winning stick battles and isn’t afraid to step up on a streaking winger coming at him.

He likely won’t be there for the Canucks in the third round but if he were to fall in the draft, the Canucks should not hesitate to draft a player who fills a void in their prospect pool. Jett Woo is a similar type of player but I think Faber moves the puck better and contributes in an offensive cycle a bit more. Woo is better as a stay at home defenceman, but Faber appears to have a higher overall ceiling.

Tim Rego (Late round selection)

It takes a very strong year in the AJHL to be considered as an NHL draft prospect. Tim Rego had one of those strong years last season in his rookie AJHL season with the Brooks Bandits.

Rego is a Massachusetts kid who decided to go the way of the AJHL to help land an NCAA scholarship at Cornell University. He scored 24 goals in 54 games and added 37 assists to put him over a point per game with the Bandits.

A lot of rankings don’t have Rego as a player who will be selected in the 2020 draft but his offensive upside is hard to miss. His progression through the NCAA will be fun to watch and he could be a diamond in the rough. He is a right shot overage defenceman who comes in at 6 feet tall and 180 pounds.

There are a lot of rumours swirling about the Canucks looking at a goaltender in the third round with their first pick of the draft. I believe they need to consider taking the best player available but adding a defenceman is also a need that they did not address in the 2019 draft.

I hope they go heavy on defencemen at the 2020 draft and we can begin to really dive into these prospects in the coming weeks.

Happy draft week everyone!