Yesterday, the NHL Draft Lottery balls fell, and miraculously, the Vancouver Canucks didn’t lose any draft positioning, staying put at number nine.
The Seattle Kraken moved up and will select second overall, while the Buffalo Sabres won the first overall pick.
“I’m just happy we didn’t lose any [draft] spots,” general manager Jim Benning told Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma. “There are nine guys we really like and I’m happy about that. And we’ll take the best player regardless of position.”
Up until the draft kicks off on July 23rd, we’ll have plenty of information about many of the different prospects available, but today, we’re looking at eight players who could be available to the Canucks at ninth overall.
Kent Johnson, C, LW
6’1, 165 lbs
A native of North Vancouver, Kent Johnson absolutely tore up the BCHL as a member of the Trail Smoke Eaters in the 2019-20 season.
In that year, he tallied 41 goals and 60 assists in 52 games played, and was an absolute force to be reckoned with. He’s coming off a solid year at the University of Michigan, where he put up 27 points in 26 games as a freshman.
He has great puckhandling ability, elusiveness, and a quick release on his shot, and could very well be the best player available at ninth overall, depending on how the proverbial cookie crumbles.
Mason McTavish, C
6’2, 207 lbs
This is the player in this year’s draft who is one of the biggest wild cards in recent memories.
Some scouts and outlets have him ranked as low as 20th, while others (looking at you, Cam Robinson) have him ranked as high as second overall.
McTavish is good at finding space and has a lethal shot, and should be able to find scoring success at the NHL level as a result.
He spent the 2020-21 season in the Swiss League, where he potted nine goals while adding two assists through 13 games played.
At the U18’s however — a tournament both Jim Benning and John Weisbrod were in attendance for — McTavish shone bright, recording five goals and six assists through seven games.
If he’s there at nine, my guess is the Canucks take him.
Luke Hughes, LD
6’2, 176 lbs
Oh look, another wild card player!
Much like McTavish, Luke Hughes seems to be a player that most outlets agree is a top five pick, but some will make the case that he should be ranked outside the top ten.
The question is, how will the GMs view him?
The New Jersey Devils will pick at fourth overall. With players like Owen Power, Matt Beniers, and William Eklund likely off the board, the Devils may make Jack Hughes’ wishes come true and draft his brother at fourth overall.
Much like another defenceman who will be included on this list shortly, you’re probably scoffing at the fact Luke Hughes is even included on this list.
All we have to say to that is: Remember the Quinn Hughes draft? No?
Needless to say, anything can happen on draft day.
Simon Edvinsson, LD
6’5, 207 lbs
Simon Edvinsson skates extremely well for a defenceman of his size. He has a solid defensive stick, and is great at closing out gaps quickly.
He projects as a strong two-way puck-moving defender at the NHL level, and could very well be available to the Canucks at nine.
Brandt Clarke, RD
6’2 190 lbs
Let me preface by saying that I would be shocked if Brandt Clarke is available at ninth overall, arguably just as shocked as I was when Quinn Hughes was available to the Canucks at seven.
Much like the Hughes draft, the Canucks’ brass will be tripping over themselves to get to the stage to call Brandt Clarke’s name as quickly as possible if he’s still available at nine. (Yes I know the draft is virtual, but you get the point.)
Clarke is a high-upside right-shot defenceman with exceptional playmaking and puck distributing abilities. He fills a massive need for the Canucks, and it’s an absolute layup for the Canucks to draft him if he’s available at ninth overall.
Dylan Guenther, LW/RW
6’1 181 lbs
Dylan Guenther is a smooth-skating forward with a good release on his shot, who can also play a 200-foot game and kill penalties.
This makes him an intriguing name for the Canucks to look at, as he plays the game #TheRightWay.
As a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2020-21, Guenther managed to put up 12 goals and 12 assists in 12 total games. He also scored four goals and added three assists at the U18’s last month in Texas.
He’s likely available at ninth overall, but if any of the players listed above are available, I think the Canucks would be wise to pass on Guenther.
William Eklund, C
Eklund likely gets selected in the top five, meaning if he’s available at ninth overall, the Canucks should be rushing to the raise hand button on Zoom as fast as possible.
Named the SHL’s Rookie of the Year, WIlliam Eklund is an elite offensive talent with good puck skills, vision, and a knack for finding the back of the net.
Fabian Lysell, RW,
The speedy Swedish winger is projected to go sometime after ninth overall, but remember, Elias Pettersson was expected to slip past fifth overall as well, until the Canucks made what many thought was a bold choice at the time of his selection.
Lysell is a fast skater with tons of skill, and is strong and capable of winning 1-on-1 puck battles, according to Mike Morreale of NHL.com.
He may be a bit of a reach at nine, but could be a player the Canucks rate higher than other teams do.
We will have plenty of in-depth analysis on each of these players and many more in the coming months as we get set for the July 23rd draft!
Who do you most want to see the Canucks draft at ninth overall? Let us know in the comments section below!