The Canucks’ draft capital history and future resembles that of contending teams, minus the team success
Photo credit:Vancouver Canucks on Twitter
25 days ago
Before you zoom down to the comments to hate on CanucksArmy for another article discussing the Filip Hronek deal. Take a deep breath. It’s not like that!
While I’d love to chime in with my sizzling hot Hronek takes, this piece focuses on the big picture, not about how or why the Canucks flipped the Islanders’ conditional 1st round pick and their 2nd round pick at this year’s draft, mid-season, at sky-high trade deadline prices, for two months and the contract year of a soon-to-be 26-year-old right-shot defenceman who is owed a $5,280,000 qualifying offer.
No no! We’re done with that nonsense!
Instead, we will look at the impact of the Hronek trade on the Canucks’ future draft capital and how the trade positions them over the last five seasons among their peers. So, don’t worry; I won’t get too deep in the weeds on the Canucks’ seemingly irresistible urge to part ways with premium draft assets for immediate “win now” help. You’ve heard enough of that!
The problem is, these picks are valuable and crucial for roster construction. Even for the Canucks themselves, seven of their top 10 producers this season were drafted out of the first round! The other skaters listed on the roster (not named Mikheyev, Kuzmenko, or Dries) were former draft picks too, and 17 came from the 1st and 2nd rounds of the draft.
When discussing draft capital, it’s important to note that 13 of the club’s 20 current skaters who were drafted in the first two rounds made their NHL debut in the season following their draft (D1) or the year after (D2).
And yet, the question of “how soon quality draft picks contribute NHL minutes to their draft club” is constantly brought up. This year’s draft is loaded this year with NHL-ready talents available in the top 15. Trading picks at this juncture should always raise an eyebrow or two.
With that, here are the raw facts! No more “why the Hronek deal was bad.” Just a simple overview of where the Canucks’ draft capital sits over the next three drafts and how the team has fared over the last five years in terms of total picks made in the rounds that matter most!
The next three drafts
Canucks available draft picks (next three drafts)
While it would have been nice to see the Canucks draft the most picks out of the first two rounds in franchise history, Filip Hronek is an excellent defenceman who will look fantastic alongside Quinn Hughes down the stretch. The Canucks are currently 26th in the NHL by points percentage, but if those two find immediate chemistry at 5v5, that number could improve dramatically.
What impact did shedding a 1st, and a 2nd really have on the Canucks future? The defence looks better positioned with Hronek added to the fold, and with three firsts and a second in 2025 available, they’re still tied with the Rangers, Jets, Oilers, Devils, and Senators with the ninth-most combined draft picks in the first two rounds over the next three drafts.
The only teams with fewer picks than Vancouver in the first two rounds are Colorado, Toronto, Florida, Boston, and Tampa Bay. One of these things is not like the other.
The last five drafts
Since 2018-19, the Canucks have drafted as many players from the first two rounds of the draft as the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and Tampa Bay Lightning. We highlighted the names of the last 10 Stanley Cup Champions to show the good company that Vancouver is keeping at the draft.
After finishing 9th-last in the 2018-19 season, the Canucks traded a 1st-round pick for J.T. Miller. Vancouver then finished the 2019-20 season in 17th place in the NHL. In the process, the club traded a 2nd-round pick for Tyler Toffoli, resulting in a play-in series win against the Minnesota Wild and a quarterfinal defeat of the St. Louis Blues in the bubble playoffs.
After a little speedbump in 2020-21, the Canucks traded a 1st, 2nd, 7th, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, and Jay Beagle for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the rights to Conor Garland. Vancouver then finished the 2021-22 season in 18th place.
In 2022-23, the team shipped a 2nd-round pick alongside Jason Dickinson for cap savings and Riley Stillman and have now jettisoned a 1st and 2nd for Hronek.
While it’s too early and unfair to judge the Canucks on the decision to move on from two top-40 picks, the Canucks have had some success in mining underutilized talent from other teams using their draft picks this season.
Since preaching a 1-2 year return-to-contention timeline, the organization has acquired nine players, a conditional 1st, a 3rd, and a conditional 4th round pick.
All it cost was a conditional first, two 2nd-round picks, a 3rd, the singing rights to a recently drafted right-shot defenceman, the team captain, and five other players of inconsequential value.
The team is currently 27th in the NHL by points percentage, and is slated to draft the same number of impact players as contending teams around the league. There’s still time left until the deadline, but don’t scoff at fans who question the timing and assets the Canucks chose to give up yesterday.
The Canucks have drafted and now look slated to continue to draft as if they’re a contending team. This would be great if this strategy ever worked for them, but for now, it appears like the Canucks are keying in on continuing the same cycle started by the last management regime.
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