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Canucks 4th round draft pick Vilmer Alriksson selected by Guelph Storm in CHL import draft
By Faber7 months ago
It’s been a busy week for 6’6″, Swedish winger Vilmer Alriksson.
Last Thursday, Alriksson was selected 107th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. He flew directly to Vancouver after finding out that he was selected by the Canucks and has been participating in Canucks development camp over the past five days.
Then, late into Wednesday morning, Alriksson was selected 34th overall in the CHL import draft by the Guelph Storm.
Alriksson and his representatives are going to be very busy over the next few weeks. There’s still an option for Alriksson to play in Sweden — he’s been a part of Djurgården’s junior teams over the past two seasons and had scored a decent amount over his time there. He had 12 goals in 43 J20 games this past season while totalling up 21 goals in 50 J18 games over the past three years.
The CHL import draft certainly isn’t a guaranteed home run but CHL general managers and scouting staffs spend a lot of time watching possible European imports and
Guelph Storm General Manager George Burnett has liked that he’s seen from Alriksson and elected to us his first selection in the import draft on the big Swede. He will continue to speak with Alriksson’s advisors as well as his family but says that he will be waiting until Alriksson returns home from Canucks development camp because it’ll be good to talk about a plan for next season when things have slowed down for Alriksson — who has had a busy week, as we mentioned earlier.
“Once he’s home, I look forward to going to connect with his representatives to see if we can find a way to have him in Guelph in the fall,” said Burnett when we talked with him early Wednesday. “We’re hopeful that he’s interested in and willing and we’ll take care of all the details. I hope to have him with Guelph.”
Burnett likes what he saw on tape for Alriksson and the player reminded him of a former Storm player who is off having a successful NHL career.
“I hope we get a chance to see him firsthand,” said Burnett. “In the video work that we’ve done, he reminds me of a player that we had here in Alexey Toropchenko — who plays for St. Louis now. He has some similarities to his game — real big body as well. And maybe not quite as physical but but there are some similarities here and Toropchenko was a great player for us for two seasons. So you know if that ever happens, he’ll be in every year and he’ll be in good shape.”
In terms of knowing when Alriksson has made his decision, we will have to wait a little while but could see an announcement soon if he commits to Guelph and the OHL.
“I’ve spoken briefly with his representatives to congratulate them, and we have plans to follow up,” said Burnett. “Let’s see where this takes us but we’re hopeful that we can figure out a plan and transition and I know we would be really excited to have him at our training camp at the end of October.”
We’ve seen a successful Sweden to the CHL through the import draft story just down the road with the Vancouver Giants. Swedish goalie and Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Jesper Vikman played two seasons with the Giants and started 80 games over those two seasons while posting a 0.903% save percentage. The Giants also had Fabian Lysell for the 2021-22 season and he put up 22 goals and added 40 assists in 53 games with the Giants.
Many prospects in a spot like Alriksson or Lysell have a lot to gain from coming over to the CHL. It’s a good spot for them to move into a top-line role instead of fighting for fourth-line minutes in the SHL or Allsvenskan. The opportunity to go play Major Junior hockey in Canada also provides a chance for these European prospects to put in some career years in terms of points. Lysell’s best season-long point total was 44 before he came to the WHL and he blew that away with his strong performance in his one WHL season. Playing in the CHL also helped Lysell make the transition to professional hockey in North America. He played the 2022-23 season with the Providence Bruins in the AHL and had a strong rookie season with 14 goals and 23 assists in 54 AHL games.
Alriksson is certainly not at the same level of a draft prospect as Lysell. Alriksson is a fourth-round pick and Lysell went 21st overall in the 2021 draft.
The good news is that if Alriksson comes to the OHL, he will have a spot near the top of the lineup and will be experiencing what hockey is like in North America. As Burnett mentioned, the Guelph Storm has done a good job in assisting with the development of European big men. Toropchenko played two seasons with the Storm and since his time with the OHL club, he has played in 97 NHL games and has scored 12 goals while adding nine assists.
Guelph would be happy to have him and we do know that the Canucks have a lot of connections with the Storm. Former associate coach during the Bruce Boudreau era Scott Walker is the president at Guelph and the Canucks have three other Storm players at their development camp this week.
We will see what happens with Alriksson’s 2023-24 landing spot but we’re all for him making the jump to North American and developing the next two seasons in the OHL.
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