Could 6’6 Vilmer Alriksson be another Swedish gem for the Canucks?
By Noah Strang2 months ago
One of the Vancouver Canucks’ most intriguing picks from the 2023 NHL Entry Draft was Vilmer Alriksson. You would be excused if you had not heard of Alriksson before the draft, as he was not a hot name heading into the event, projected to go in the final rounds, if he was to be drafted at all.
The Canucks brass clearly saw something in Alriksson that they liked and if you watch his tape, it’s not hard to see what it is. At 6’6″ and with a smooth skating stride, Alriksson looks as if he could be the perfect modern-day NHL power forward.
“Vilmer Alriksson started off last season as more of a finesse-type player, I think he started to find more of his identity in the second half as he became more of a power forward that played a two-way game with better details and started to understand that he is a big kid and used his size to his advantage,” said Canucks amateur scout Bobbie Hagelin. “For being a big guy, he is pretty fluid and smooth and has a good release.”
Alriksson introduced himself to the fanbase by scoring the first Canucks goal of this year’s Young Stars tournament on a deflection in the first period against the Calgary Flames. The big winger was rewarded for his forechecking efforts as he fought to get the puck back to the point before heading to the slot where he managed to get his stick on the puck.
Canucks fans should get ready to hear more about Alriksson over the coming years as the big forward has all of the tools to be a very exciting prospect.
What does Vilmer Alriksson bring to the ice?
The first thing you notice when watching Vilmer Alriksson play is his size. At 6’6″, he stands out as one of the tallest players on the ice, no matter who he’s playing against.
For most wingers that size, the question becomes if they have the skating to keep up with the fast-paced modern NHL game. However, Alriksson’s skating is actually seen as one of his better attributes as he moves very well for his height.
Despite those positive qualities, Alriksson has never been able to put it all together and dominate a league. He played the majority of last season in the Swedish U20 league and managed 21 points in 43 games for 0.49 points-per-game. Canucks first-round draft pick Tom Willander managed 0.64 points per game in the same league as a defenceman.
Points are not the be-all and end-all for prospect evaluation and the Canucks have definitely taken a more holistic approach to evaluating prospects in recent years, targeting specific traits more than elite raw numbers.
“Obviously attributes, that has a lot to do with it,” Todd Harvey said to The Athletic after the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. “You might say the numbers aren’t there, but we’re projecting them to get better and the numbers will get better.”
Alriksson is a great example of this concept as watching him play, you can see that he oozes potential. He’s huge, a more than decent skater, and has some solid offensive instincts. Finding a way to put it all together, as well as adding a ton of strength to his teenage frame, will be the key to Alriksson becoming a contributor at the next level.
What’s next for Vilmer Alriksson?
While there are reasons to be excited about what Alriksson brings to the table, he is still a ways away from playing any type of professional hockey. He needs to do a lot of physical maturing, as well as work on his game, before we come close to talking about Alriksson playing in the professional ranks.
The 6’6″ winger was selected by the Guelph Storm earlier this year in the CHL import draft and will be playing in the OHL this season. The move to North America should allow the 18-year-old to start to acclimatize himself to the smaller ice surface, as well as the culture away from hockey.
“Where he is physically, you got to be patient. It’s going to take some time for him to grow into that body but I think that moving over to Guelph and playing on the smaller ice will be a really good fit for him,” Canucks scout Bobbie Hagelin said. “He’s so dialed in to go there and become better and he understands the areas he needs to work on and he is the type of kid that you want to work with if you work with development.”
While Alriksson has got a long road ahead of him, the move to North America is one that will hopefully help fast-track his development. The Canucks organization will surely be keeping a close eye on the big Swede. An easy transition to the smaller ice where Alriksson is a significant contributor for the Guelph Storm would mark a successful 2023-24 for the Canucks recent draft pick.
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