The five draft-eligible prospects the Canucks have taken out to dinner (that we know of)

Photo credit:@ianbethune_ on IG
David Quadrelli
10 months ago
Hey, it worked to get Andrei Kuzmenko to sign in Vancouver.
But it’s not free agents that the Vancouver Canucks are wining and dining at the moment. Instead, it’s prospects who are eligible for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, which is just a couple of weeks away.
The Canucks have reportedly taken all of Nanaimo’s Matthew Wood, Zach Benson, Nate Danielson, Colby Barlow, and Tom Willander out to dinner ahead of the draft.
Harman Dayal of The Athletic reported that the Canucks took Danielson, Willander, and Barlow out to dinner while gathered for the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo, and Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali — The Team reported on the dinners with Wood and Benson.
Wood is a towering offence-first forward who many believe projects to be a winger rather than a centre at the NHL level. He played his junior hockey in Nanaimo with BCHL’s Clippers, and put up 34 points through 35 games in his freshman year with the NCAA’s UConn Huskies. Read more about Wood here.
Zach Benson is projected by most to go in the top ten of the draft but makes for an intriguing option if he’s available when the Canucks select at 11th overall. A Chilliwack-born left winger, Benson played his junior hockey with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, scoring 36 goals and adding 62 assists through 60 games this year. Listed at 5’9 and 165 pounds, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see some teams shy away from Benson despite being well-regarded by most scouting outlets.
Nate Danielson is a right shot centre who most expected to go later than 15th overall, but the Canucks’ interest in this player seems to be growing by the day according to the rumour mill (which of course never lies). While captaining the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, the 6’2 centre tallied 33 goals and 45 assists through 68 games this past season.
Ranked as high as eighth by well-respected scouting lists such as Bob McKenzie’s, Colby Barlow is a Canadian-born left winger with a lethal shot. At 6’1 and 187 pounds, he’s got the size that scouts love to see and managed to put up 46 goals through 59 games with Owen Sound this past season. The problem for the Canucks might be that he’s a winger, but he may very well be the best player available to the Canucks at 11th overall.
Finally, Tom Willander seems to be the prospect most connected to the Canucks in the rumour mill. Although not originally thought to be a top 15 calibre pick, Willander represents a “safe pick” as his defensive tools alone should almost guarantee he can be a bottom 4 NHL defenceman at the very least. If he adds some more offensive elements to his game, he has a chance to become a legit top pairing RHD, something the Canucks would certainly love to add to their NHL lineup.

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