The Vancouver Canucks have done a pretty good job of turning their late-round picks into value pieces and in one week at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, they will hope to continue that trend.
Prospects like Aidan McDonough, Dmitri Zlodeyev and Viktor Persson were all selected in the sixth or seventh round and show some potential with a few skills that stand out and appear as though they will translate to the NHL level. With late-round picks, it’s all about finding that player with one or two skills that are elite and hoping that they can round out the rest of their game enough to get to the AHL and work their way up from there.
Here are seven players that should be late-round picks and have a skill or two that pop off the screen, making them worth taking a flyer on.
Ryan Mast, RD, 6’4″, 190-210? lbs
Quick Hits: The Canucks need to add right-shot defencemen to their prospect pipeline and Ryan Mast is a big right-shot defenceman who showed that he is a good skater for someone of his stature. He is listed at 190 pounds on EliteProspects but I have seen a recent report that has him at 210 pounds. He looks comfortable skating backwards and has an active stick as he defends with above-average physical play. His breakout passes are strong and often tape to tape.
Mast was playing for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL and of course, the OHL did not play any games this season due to COVID-19. The only film I could find on him from this past year was his time at the PBHH Invitational where he looked strong and moved around the ice with more pace than he did during his rookie OHL season in 2019-20.
He has some very noticeable flaws defensively as it seems like he believes he is a forward with how deep and often he pinches in or chases a forecheck. On the point, he is a bit robotic with his movements and will need to develop his puck possession skills.
Special Trait: He’s 6’4″, skates around the ice very well, and makes strong and accurate passes.
Ranks: #75 by McKeen’s Hockey, #94 by Recruit Scouting, #277 by FCHockey and #89 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Brody Lamb, C, 6’0″, 161 lbs
Quick Hits: He absolutely ripped up Minnesota high school hockey before struggling with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Brody Lamb spent some of his USHL time playing alongside Canucks prospect Jackson Kunz but only ended up notching two assists in 11 games. At the Minnesota high school level, his numbers are bonkers. He finished the 24 game season with 52 goals and 35 assists for a total of 87 points.
At the high school level, his hands and skating stuck out more than a Russian player on the Canucks’ roster does. It will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on this kid. According to his high school coach, there were multiple games where Lamb had three to five NHL scouts in the building to see what he could do, so the NHL is on notice.
Lamb posted 3.33 points per game in his two seasons of high school hockey — the highest any player has posted in Minnesota high school hockey in the past 10 years. He is committed to the University of Minnesota and someone may take a chance on him even though he didn’t produce well at the USHL level in his 11 game stint.
Special Trait: Quick hands and a nice release but he was playing against weaker competition, so it’s hard to judge his true skill. Next season at the University of Minnesota will be very telling on his future.
Ranks: #178 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Jiri Tichacek, LD, 5’9″, 170 lbs
Quick Hits: Jiri Tichacek is an undersized defenceman who can skate at a high level and is coming off a season where he played 17 games in the Czech second division. He is a power play quarterback for the Czech Republic U18 team and is very shifty with the puck.
Here’s a short GIF of Tichacek jumping into the rush and getting the secondary assist on a goal for his efforts.
Special Trait: Tichacek is an excellent skater but very undersized.
Ranks: #72 by Smaht Scouting, #77 by McKeen’s Hockey, #80 by DobberProspects, #207 by FCHockey and #104 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
Hugo Gabrielson, LD, 6’1″, 172 lbs
Quick Hits: A smooth-skating Swedish defenceman who was unable to finish his season due to COVID, Hugo Gabrielson is a smart defenceman who looks uber comfortable with the puck around the blue line. He was the sixth highest-scoring defenceman in the J20 Nationell league before it shut down.
Gabrielson has great spatial awareness in his own zone and it helps that he is always moving his feet to gain momentum on his edges. His skating sticks out in the HockeyEttan league and he will move up to the Swedish second division next season to show the growth in his game.
Special Trait: He appears to be an above-average skater with good hands for a defenceman.
Ranks: #81 by Draft Prospect Hockey, #91 by Smaht Hockey, #154 by McKeen’s Hockey and #225 by FCHockey.
Bryce Montgomery, RD, 6’5, 220 lbs
Quick Hits: One of my favourites for the Canucks to spend a late-round pick on is Bryce Montgomery. Another OHL player who didn’t get to play this season. I saw some tape on him from the PBHH Invitational that I mentioned earlier.
He’s one tough character who is a great skater for a player of his size. Montgomery only had 2 assists in 33 games for the London Knights during his rookie OHL season.
Here’s a clip of him with a great breakout pass at the PBHH Invitational. He glides around the ice extremely well for a 6’5″, 220-pound player. There’s a lot to like with him.
Special Trait: Size, skating and being a right-shot defenceman.
Ranks: #56 by Smaht Scouting, #134 by McKeen’s Hockey, #212 by FCHockey and #146 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Eetu Liukas, RW, 6’2″, 205 lbs
Quick Hits: Eetu Liukas is a tough-nosed Finnish winger with a knack for going to the net hard. He has a quick release on his shot and is ferocious on the forecheck while having a stick that looks like it has a puck magnet on it in the defensive zone. There’s a lot to like about this kid’s potential and he already has an NHL body.
He played 19 games on an excellent TPS team in the top Finnish men’s league and fit right in. He only had a goal and two assists in those games but his effort level was noticed. The stat reader scouts won’t bat an eyelash at this guy but if you watch him play, there’s something very impressive about how he attacks the puck in both the offensive and defensive zones.
Here’s a great sequence of him hunting down the puck in the defensive zone and creating a two-on-one where he finishes a pretty passing play that he started.
He is up there with Montgomery for my favourite on this list.
Special Trait: A high-energy player with an NHL body who gets around the ice well and loves to finish hard at the net.
Ranks: #119 by Smaht Scouting, #124 by FCHockey, #199 by McKeen’s Hockey and #57 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
Louis Robin, RW, 5’8″, 150 lbs
Quick Hits: Louis Robin is extremely undersized but he sure doesn’t play like it. He plays like he is 6’2″ with his aggressiveness and willingness to bang around against the opposition in the crease. He had an average U18 tournament and likely got noticed by a few scouts but his size really drops him into still being a risky pick in the sixth or seventh rounds.
The positives are that he has a very good-looking release on his shot and is a very agile skater who can gain a lot of speed from his powerful first three steps.
I included quite a few big bodies on this list so I wanted to at least include a couple of small players with some scoring upside.
Special Traits: Quick and powerful strides that gain a lot of speed in a little amount of time.
Ranks: #243 by FCHockey
Well, that wraps up my late-round options for the Canucks to potentially take a swing on. Remember that for a lot of these players, there are quite a few knocks on their game and that is why they are projected to be later-round picks. Each of these seven players has a skill or two that sticks out and if they can round out their game a bit and add another impressive trait, they could end up becoming steals when all is said and done.
I’m sure that we will be doing some more of these lists before the draft so I hope you enjoyed getting to know some potential late-round picks for the Canucks.