CanucksArmy’s first 2023 top 10 Canucks prospect rankings: Honourable Mentions
By Faber9 months ago
With some downtime away from the day-to-day fun of covering the Vancouver Canucks, we felt like it was a great time to give an updated list of our top-10 Canucks prospects.
As there is some extra time during the All-Star break, we will be writing this list in 11 parts. Giving an honourable mentions list and then following it up with 10 articles breaking down the top 10 prospects for the Canucks, what they have been up to this season and when we expect them to have a landing time to play in the NHL.
Before we get into the honourable mentions, we have a few things to discuss about the qualifications for our prospects list.
We should acknowledge that Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander are players who could fit into our list but we’ve decided that because of their NHL experience, they will be graduated from the prospects list. Both players look like they clearly have an NHL future and we should see them both back in the NHL at some point this season.
The list will consist of players under the age of 24, who have not played more than 20 NHL games.
This means that though he is 23 years old, Jack Rathbone will also be graduating from the list. Will Lockwood turned 24 back in June and was not included in our last top-10 rankings. In our eyes, he is no longer looked at as a prospect.
With that all being said, I’ll check the comments for discussion about the qualifications but want to go with players who are looked at as prototypical prospects — the type of players who are not yet at the point of being NHL players but have the hope that they are down the road.
Now that we’ve covered all that, let’s dive into the players who just missed the top 10!
We will discuss who the player is, what they are good at, and when we expect them to be an NHLer if they hit their ceiling.
Aku Koskenvuo, G, 19 years old, 2021 5th round pick
Aku Koskenvuo is a goaltender with a lot of potential. He is viewed as one of the goalies that was found by Ian Clark in the 2021 draft and has all the physical traits to be a successful pro goalie. Koskenvuo is still just 19 years old and stands at 6’4″.
His movement is at a high level for a goaltender of his size and he just has that look in the crease where he takes up a ton of the net.
In terms of what Koskenvuo has been up to this year, he began the season at Canucks development camp and was able to work with Ian Clark at length. Getting time in before practice to learn as much as possible from the goalie guru.
Koskenvuo was selected to play with Finland at the most recent World Junior Championships and was even given the first start for Finland in the tournament. He didn’t take a firm grasp on the starter’s role and ended up finishing the tournament with an 0.842 save percentage through two games. That included a 3-2 overtime loss to Switzerland, where he stopped 24 of 27 shots and a 6-2 loss to the United States, where he stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.
The 19-year-old is in his freshman season with Harvard and is currently third on the team’s depth chart. He has played in two games and holds a 0.875 save percentage.
It’s still a long road for Koskenvuo before he jumps into pro hockey in North America. He makes sense to be in the AHL for the 2025-26 season but will need a contract with the Canucks prior to June 1st, 2025. With that information, it’s likely that Koskenvuo plays the remainder of this season before two more at Harvard before making the jump to pro hockey.
He has a lot of potential and is working with both Ian Clark and Marko Torenius through video calls to improve on his game. The work he will get in person will come at the Canucks’ next two development camps and until he begins to see consistent starts in the NCAA, we have to keep him in our honourable mentions.
Koskenvuo is a long-term project o become an NHLer and our NHL landing time would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the 2026-27 season.
Joni Jurmo, LD, 20 years old, 2020 3rd round pick
Joni Jurmo is another 6’4″ Finn in the Canucks’ system, this time at the defence position. He was the Canucks’ top pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and has been on our radar for a few years. He’s been in our top-10 before but has not quite done enough this year to crack the list — though he has taken a step in the right direction this season.
Simply as an athlete, Jurmo has some very exciting skills. He can shoot the puck with force but is best known for his skating. Being 6’4″ and moving the way he can will definitely open doors for his future and the fact that he is still just 20 years old gives us hope that he can develop the weaker points of his game.
When we talk about the weaker parts of his game, it starts with his decision-making. Jurmo has looked better this season in the Finnish Liiga and is playing more minutes because of his improved play. The worry is that time and space will continue to lessen as he moves on to the AHL and potentially the NHL one day. Jurmo needs to find an understanding on how to maximize his skill set during a game instead of relying upon it.
It’s almost as if he rushes into making space for himself instead of having the awareness to see what his skill can create. This can be seen in a breakout from his own end where, at times, he can simply skate around a defender (which is good!) and get to his own blue line with possession (which is also good!), the problem is that that breakout often turns into a dump-in that sees his team lose possession (not good!).
Jurmo is one of the players that Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin has talked about coming over to the AHL in the upcoming year. We are very curious to see how his game looks when he is playing in the North American game with forwards who support breakouts in a different way than we see in Liiga.
The best news is that this kid skates with NHL potential. He will require a lot of work with the Canucks’ development staff to actually make it to the NHL one day but he’s a piece who we would love to see in the AHL as soon as possible.
This is Jurmo’s third season in Liiga and his second with Jukurit. He has settled into being a bottom-four defenceman as a 20-year-old and averages between 14-20 minutes a night. Jurmo is getting some power play time and occasionally is used on the penalty kill. We see him as a player who could bring something to a power play if he is able to make improvement on his shot from the point but he moves well with the puck and at five-on-five — he does a good job of pinching to extend cycles and offensive zone possessions.
It’s been a more productive offensive season for Jurmo this year, as he currently has four goals and five assists through 39 games with Jukurit. The added power play time is nice but it’s not necessarily where he has been generating most of his points. At his best, he is beating forwards in the offensive zone and finding space to get point shots off.
As we’ve said a couple of times, there is a lot of skill in this kid’s game and we will see if the Canucks’ development staff can make a player out of him. From what we’ve heard from other prospects who attended the Canucks most recent development camp, Jurmo is a bubbly character as well. He is one of the louder guys in the room and always has a smile on his face. He could end up being a fan favourite in Abbotsford if he has early success in the AHL.
Sources have said that Jurmo is interested in coming to North America after this season. He will likely be in the AHL next year if the Canucks are willing to use a contract spot on the defenceman. If he is not signed this offseason or potentially at the end of his year in Liiga, Jurmo is on the Canucks’ reserve list until June 1st, 2024. The Canucks may look to have him play one more season in Liiga before giving him a shot in the AHL but the fact that Allvin has mentioned him gives us an indication that the organization wants to have more control on his development.
We expect to see Jurmo in the AHL next season and a hopeful projection has him playing some NHL games during the 2025-26 season.
Kirill Kudryavtsev, LD, 18 years old, 2022 7th round pick
Kirill Kudryavtsev is a 6’0″, left-shot defenceman who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2022 draft. He is currently playing in his second season with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL after spending his youth in Russia.
The 18-year-old defenceman came onto scouts’ radar as a 16-year-old in the MHL who was a great puck-mover.
The tape on Kudryavtsev has been a nice watch this season. Especially for a seventh-round pick. After a rookie OHL season where he put up five goals and 34 assists in 68 games, Kudryavtsev is finding even more offence in his augmented role as a second-year OHLer. He currently has six goals and 31 assists through 43 games and is fast approaching becoming a point-per-game OHL defenceman.
The points have been coming from his time on the Greyhounds’ power play, a spot where Kudryavtsev looks extremely comfortable with his playmaking and ability to find the net with his wrist shot.
When you evaluate what type of defenceman Kudyravtsev is, he leans heavily into the offensive category.
His biggest strength that helps him create offence is his skating ability. When you combine his speed with his above-average hands — there is a lot to like about what he can bring to an OHL game.
Another impressive part of his game is the ability to read flow in the offensive zone. He hunts for open ice and when he sees hit, he explodes into the area and that explosion helps indicate to his teammates that they need to get him the puck pronto.
Though he is known as an offensive defenceman, it’s a flimflam because we consistently see Kudryavtsev killing penalties for the Greyhounds. He isn’t overly physical but he doesn’t shy away from physicality either. He will need to make improvements to his defensive play to truly become a legitimate NHL prospect but for where he was drafted, his value is certainly higher than the seventh-round pick that was spent on him. He is an average defender right now but will need a big jump to become competent defensively at the AHL level. These types of defencemen are a nice gamble with a seventh-round pick and it will be exciting to follow Kudryavtsev’s 2023-24 season, where he will have a legitimate chance to be one of the top-three scoring defencemen in the OHL.
He is currently sixth in scoring out of OHL defencemen and should take another step next season.
If he continues his upward trajectory toward finding his potential, we expect to see Kudyavtsev join the Abbotsford Canucks after the 2023-24 season. He will likely take a few years to adjust to pro hockey but if he hits his ceiling, he could play some NHL games as soon as the 2025-26 season.
The Canucks have until June 1st, 2024 to sign Kudyavtsev before he becomes a free agent. We expect to see him sign after his 2023-24 season. He also happens to be a Dan Milstein client — they will get that deal done quickly.
Connor Lockhart, RW, 20 years old, 2021 6th round pick
After having his draft year cancelled due to COVID, Connor Lockhart was selected by the Canucks in the sixth round of the 2021 draft.
Lockhart was selected third overall in the 2019 OHL priority draft. He is ultra-skilled and a quick skater but slid in the draft due to losing his draft-eligible OHL season and probably slid due to his lack of size. Lockhart is 5’9″ and roughly 165 pounds. He understands how hard he has to play and makes sure to get under the skin of his opponents.
The easiest thing to spot in his game is the pace at which he skates with. Lockhart is an above-average skater who can really shoot the puck.
Lockhart also knows where to go to score goals — he is often found around the crease and is very quick to the puck when fighting for a loose puck.
He is at his best on the rush but also has a shockingly good one-timer from the left half-wall.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Lockhart to make the NHL and his current goal is just to sign a contract with the Canucks at the conclusion of his OHL season. He’s got a ton of skill but any player at his size is going to need to be the hardest-working player on the ice at all times. He has spent his offseasons working on being harder on the puck in the corners and has a great work ethic.
We’re not sure if the Canucks are going to sign Lockhart before he becomes a free agent on June 1st of this year. He is currently 20th in OHL scoring and certainly has impressed with his ability to keep up at Canucks’ training camp over the past two years. It’s great to have CHL players in your prospect pool who can graduate from major junior and jump right into the AHL. We’re just not so sure the Canucks will use one of their 50 contracts on this kid.
He should definitely be able to find an AHL contract with someone but we will have to see if the Canucks take a bit at Lockhart before June 1st.
If he were to reach his ceiling and become an absolute pest to play against, he would likely spend a few years in the AHL and maybe get some NHL time down the road. Our guess would be sometime around the 2025-26 season.
That wraps up our first instalment of the Canucks top-10 prospects list.
And we haven’t even dove into the top-10!
We will continue on with our countdown every day during this NHL All-Star break. See you tomorrow for number 10 on our list!
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