Faber on the clock: Drafting with homerun swings for every Canucks pick at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft (Vol.2)
Photo credit:@a.suniev on Instagram
By Faber3 months ago
Be sure to check out the latest NHL lines with online sportsbook Betway!
The first run through this experiment was a lot of fun and we want to do a couple of different approaches to the Canucks’ 2023 draft.
Today, we will be taking big swings in the draft and hoping to find stars instead of depth. There will continue to be a focus on centres and defencemen but we will be looking at some wingers if they have boom potential from their draft position.
One thing that will be consistent with my drafts is that there will be a lot of defencemen selected in our drafts. We just believe that there is more value in defenceman through the second to fifth rounds. We hope that’s the approach that the Canucks take in the 2023 draft because their prospect pool is still very much lacking in terms of help coming to the Canucks on the backend.
So, now that we’ve got this intro out of the way, let’s get to the fun and fire up the draft simulator to see how things shake down.
We will be using FC Hockey’s draft simulator for this one as we saw some comments and replies telling us that the first round is a bit more accurate than the draft simulator we used in volume one of this series.
Let’s get into it!
First Round (11th overall) — Oliver Moore, LH-C
Alright, here is how the draft went in our simulation.
Connor Bedard went first overall, followed by Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michkov and then the San Jose Sharks were stoked when Adam Fantilli fell to them at four. Will Smith went fifth overall, followed by Zach Benson and then the first defenceman went off the board at seven when the Philadelphia Flyers picked Axel Sandin Pellikka. Dalibor Dvorsky went at eight and he was followed by Eduard Sale and Otto Stenberg to round out the top 10.
We had right-shot defenceman, David Reinbacher sitting right there prime for the taking but decided to go with the player who has a higher upside and draft left-shot centre Oliver Moore.
Moore is a tremendous talent and a great pick at 11th overall. The best part of Moore’s game is clearly his skating. There’s room for argument but Moore is more than likely the best skater in the 2023 draft. He’s quicker than Connor Bedard, faster than Matvei Michkov and just has some of the best breakaway speed we have seen in recent memory.
I mean, this is just ridiculous pace.
You’re drafting Moore to be that second-line stud who helps his line become a scoring threat on every shift. After a strong two year run with the United States National Team Development Program, Moore is off to the University of Minnesota next season and he’s likely making the jump to the NHL at the conclusion of his 2023-24 NCAA season.
He’s not going to take very long to become an NHLer and could quickly fill the Canucks’ need at third-line centre.
His pace would be a tremendous boost to the Canucks’ attack and we would be looking at a very strong centre trio with Moore, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller being the spine of this Canucks team for the coming years.
Third Round (75th overall) — Carter Sotheran, RD
Let’s go get a big, Manitoba-born, tough, right-shot defenceman from the WHL here at 75th overall.
His numbers don’t pop off the page but Carter Sotheran was a big piece of the Portland Winterhawks’ defence corps this season.
Sotheran has some questions about his pro-level projection but that’s why he’s available at 75 in the draft. His skating doesn’t look to be at a pro level just yet but he is also one of the younger players in the draft class and is still only 17 years old. He will need to make strides in his skating over his next two WHL seasons before getting a chance to jump into an AHL lineup.
As for positives, Sotheran uses every inch of his 6’3″ frame and is a great decision-maker with the puck in his own zone. He is able to remain extremely calm with the puck during breakouts and has the pop on his passes that you want to see from a defenceman. He’s just a smart player and that will bode well for his pro career.
His shot is heavy and we will have to wait to see how his production rises next season. He’s made a good base in the WHL and will now be able to build on what he’s done in his rookie WHL season.
The kid is also willing to throw down.
You’d like to see some toughness be inserted into the Canucks’ prospect pipeline.
We are taking a swing here on Sotheran because he has top-four potential but it will require him to become a better skater or lean heavily into his physicality for his jump to pro. Either way, we feel pretty good adding a right-shot defenceman here at 75. It’s nice to have a WHL prospect, as well.
Third Round (89th overall) — Anton Wahlberg, LH-C
This pick was an absolute no-brainer.
Anton Wahlberg is a 6’3″ centre who played in 20 SHL games this past season as a 17-year-old. He has a July birthday, so that makes him one of the younger players in this draft. He scored three goals in his 20 SHL games and added 14 goals and 14 assists in 34 J20 games.
We recently wrote about Wahlberg in a mid-round targets article.
He’s got size and a really good shot that can be triggered in a split second. Wahlberg should be a regular in the SHL next season and is a great pick if the Canucks can snag him in the third round. His value in the third round would be looked at similarly to Elias Pettersson’s (D-Petey). This kid has a lot to like about him and he has lots of room to grow the weaker parts of his game.
Craig Button of TSN and McKeen’s Hockey both have Wahlberg as a first-round talent. We don’t think the 6’3″ centre will slide all the way down to the third round but he was there for us in this draft and we had to pounce.
Fourth Round (105th overall) — Connor Levis, RW
The right-shot winger had a tremendous regular season, where he scored 27 goals and added 40 assists in 68 games with the Kamloops Blazers.
Levis had a chance to play in the Memorial Cup and raise his stock for the draft but was a bit of a no-show aside from a one-goal and two-assist performance in a 10-2 win over the Peterborough Petes. His Memorial Cup performance came after having playoffs without much offensive success — having scored only one goal in Kamloops’ 14 playoff games.
After a slow postseason, Levis likely slides out of the second-round projections that some scouting sites have for him. We wrote about Levis a couple of weeks ago.
What you should be excited about is his heavy wrist shot. He’s not picking corners with his shots, he’s more just beating goaltenders with well-placed shots through the goalies’ openings. Levis plays the left half-wall or the bumper on the power play and is a good finisher with a quick release that generates a lot of power in a hurry.After a 27-goal season, Levis has a chance to emerge as one of the WHL’s breakout stars in his draft plus one season — next year. His shot and decent speed are undoubtedly worth a mid-round pick. Levis is also a local kid from Vancouver, who would surely love to play for either Abbotsford or Vancouver someday soon.
Levis really has a chance to be a dominant player in the WHL next season and should get close to 40 goals.
The local kid would likely develop in the AHL after his junior career and we’re here for it. He is likely to score a lot in the AHL and potentially improve enough to become an NHL scorer one day.
Fourth Round (107th overall) — Aydar Suniev, LW
We’re going with a Russian BCHLer with our second fourth-round pick.
There’s a ton of skill here with Aydar Suniev and his pace is ridiculous against his BCHL competition. Our worry is that he may not dominate at the next level like he has in the BCHL this past season but he’s got a highlight reel that reminds us of Alex Newhook ripping up the BCHL back before his 2019 draft, where the 5’10” centre/winger went 16th overall.
We do have to take the Penticton Vees into account here.
The Vees finished their 2022-23 season with 304 goals scored and only 96 goals against. In Newhook’s draft season, his Victoria Grizzlies were the top team in the Island Division and had a respectable 231-188 goal share but they were nowhere near as good as this Vees team.
Even with the Vees having a powerhouse squad, we like Suniev in the fourth round. He feels like one of those prospects who could pop and pop quickly. If Suniev is able to carry his confidence and creativity with the puck to the NCAA level, he will be a hell of a lot of fun to follow through his college career.
His pace shouldn’t be a problem at the NCAA level but he will need to adjust to the better defending at the next level.
All this talk and charts, and I haven’t even mentioned that he is not an undersized winger like you may believe.
Suniev is 6’2″ and has some weight to him as well. He skates around defenders on rushes with a lot of confidence and doesn’t seem worried that anyone can knock him off of the puck. He’s got a good combination of size with skill because he is a magician with the puck in tight around the crease. We’re still cautious because this BCHL competition can be sus at times, to say the best.
We like this as a homerun swing in the fourth round. We’d like to draft a centre or a defenceman but we like the skill here at 107 and will find it tough to pass on the talented, 6’2″ winger who’s off to play for the University of Massachusettes next season.
Some competitive play in the Hockey East NCAA division should really tell us what type of pro Suniev is and if his skill was slept on because of the BCHL competition.
Fourth Round (119th overall) — Yegor Sidorov, RW
Oops, I did it again.
We’re drafting another winger because this is another homerun candidate.
Yegor Sidorov is an overaged winger from Belarus, who is playing with the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL. He will be 19 years old on draft day but has been showcasing that he has the potential to be a lethal scorer at the next level.
We recently wrote about Sidorov.
One of the reasons why Sidorov was not selected in his first year of NHL draft eligibility was that he was too much of a perimeter player and that changed this past season. The 18-year-old got stronger and more confident in the WHL after a tough transition from the Belarusian junior league. There were only three U19 WHL players who had 40-goal seasons this past year — Connor Bedard and Koehn Ziemmer (expected to go somewhere in the top-40).Sidorov played with Danila Klimovich on Belarus’ U18 team and the two spent time together throughout international play with team Belarus. Sidorov has now been in the WHL for two seasons and the expectation should be for him to pot 50 goals next season and be one of the best offensive talents in the WHL. We don’t think he will slide out of this draft.Oh, and we almost forgot to mention…Sidorov is a Dan Milstein client.
He’s a scoring sensation in the WHL as a 18-year-old and we expect him to take another step next season before going pro at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. It’s a bit storage drafting a 19-year-old but you should also realize that he is going pro after this season and that means he can go right to your AHL team after likely throwing up huge numbers in the WHL in his final year.
Another big swing here but the reward could be massive and that reward could begin to thrive in the AHL very soon.
Sixth Round (171st overall) — Rodwin Dionicio, LD
We had to get a defenceman here after that triple hit on wingers in the fourth round.
There was a lot to like in Sidorov’s 18-year-old season and we are looking at another over-ager here with big, left-shot defenceman Rodwin Dionicio.
Yes, the guy who hit the gritty after winning a game for Switzerland at the most recent World Junior Championships.
Dionicio is a 6’2″, left-shot defenceman who took a big jump in terms of offensive production and finished the season with 15 goals and 35 assists in 50 games. The point-per-game defenceman still has one more year in the OHL and he will likely be looked at to anchor a defence corps and be charged at as a number-one, minute-muncher.
If Dionicio can improve on defending the rush, he has all the other skills to make you excited about getting this type of defence prospect in the sixth round of the draft.
In the end, we like the homerun swings draft but aren’t overly excited about the outcome. We ended up picking two centres that we are very happy with. The two defencemen both have great hockey sense and think the game at a pro level. We ended up with three wingers but those were three really big swings in the fourth round.
We want to come out of these draft simulations with at least three defencemen but the homerun approach made it too easy to get wingers.
I’d rank this as the worse draft of the first two volumes of this experiment.
I’m not a graphic designer but here are the two lists. Rip me in the comments for my artistic skill.
He may just end up being solid AHL depth for you but he has enough of a strong skillset to earn significant time in the AHL and if he thrives there, he should be able to fight to be an NHL defenceman who plays on your third pairing and eats up penalty kill minutes.
We will do a few more of these types of draft simulations but will take a different approach. If you have any suggestions for a draft approach, let me know in the comments.
If you want to do a draft simulation for yourself, here’s the link to the FCHockey mock draft.
Recent articles from Faber