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Road to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft: Ten players the Canucks could target with their third round pick

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Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
28 days ago
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The 2024 NHL Entry Draft is fast approaching, and scouts are busy finalizing their consolidated rankings so they can hit the ground running on June 28th.
For Canucks’ management, their focus may differ slightly. With only five total picks, they may be spending the next few weeks hoping to accumulate more draft stock—at least, that’s the hope.
Barring any trades, the Canucks don’t expect to pick until day two of the draft.
To bring you up to speed, here’s a refresher on where they pick:
  • Third round, 93rd overall
  • Fourth round, 125th overall
  • Sixth round, 162nd overall
  • Sixth round, 189th overall
  • Seventh round, 221st overall
This will be the third time in five years that the club will be without a first-round pick and the third consecutive without a second-round pick. Given their already weaker-than-average prospect pool, this is far from ideal.
Despite the lack of early picks, the Canucks have done a reasonably good job combing for value in the later rounds. In the last two years, they found Elias Pettersson, Hunter Brzustewicz (traded), and Sawyer Mynio in the third round, who’ve all earned ELCs and are progressing well.
Additionally, Vilmer Alriksson (4th), Lucas Forsell (7th), and Kirill Kudryavtsev (7th) were all taken in the later rounds and have all shown decent promise as organizational depth.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a deeper look into each round, identifying names that might be worth targeting for the Canucks this season.
Of course, predicting prospects in these ranges can be challenging, and similar to throwing multiple darts at a board. Each year, the table is flooded with “draft day surprises,” which can make formulating game plans a living nightmare.
With that in mind, we decided to shoot for the stars and focus on a few names that we feel may be available for the team’s first pick and who may be worthwhile gambles.

The Swedish four

Let’s be serious, shall we? It’s been six drafts (2018) since the Canucks failed to call out the name of a Swedish player at the podium. They simply cannot help themselves.
With that in mind, there are a few intriguing players who could interest their fellow countryman and Canucks GM Patrik Allvin.
Simon Zether, Rögle (SHL)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’3, 187 lbs
The unfortunate reality is that Simon Zether might be well off the board by the 93rd pick. However, if he’s still available, he’s a safe bet.
Zether is an intriguing two-way player who ticks nearly all the boxes for the Canucks’ future needs. He’s considered a sound right-shot center who combines size and detail, all while excelling in small-area play.
As captain, he dominated the J20 with Rögle early in the year, finishing second in points per game (1.50), notching 27 points in 18 games. Clearly above the pack, Zether spent the remainder of his draft-eligible season in the SHL as an 18-year-old, posting four assists across 42 very limited games. He averaged just 7:03 of ice time.
The main caveat to his game is his footspeed, which limits his effectiveness against faster competition. There is no sugarcoating it; improving his skating will be crucial for his development.
However, with his smart playmaking, puck shielding, and composure under pressure, Zether could become a valuable third-line producer in the NHL.
Jack Berglund, Färjestad (J20 Nationell)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 6’2, 207 lbs
Contrary to Zether, Jack Berglund could easily slip past the Canucks spot in the third and into the fourth round. But is it worth the risk of waiting?
Berglund is a solid two-way pivot with great size and all the makings of a potential third-line center. Despite modest counting statistics of 34 points in 41 J20 games, he combines intelligence, power, and strength to make him reliable in all zones.
His efforts earned him eight spread-out SHL auditions throughout the season, during which he posted his first career goal among the pros.
Defensively, Berglund excels with smooth skating, effective backchecking, and aggressive one-on-one battles. Meanwhile, his puck protection skills and playmaking in tight spaces are standout traits in the O-zone.
Safe and projectable is the name of the game here.
Alexander Zetterberg, Örebro (J20 Nationell)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 5’8, 159 lbs
Alexander Zetterberg is the perfect example of the old saying, “Good things come in small packages.”
As one of Sweden’s top U18 players, there is a good chance that his skillset would have him taken in the first two rounds if he were just a few inches taller.
He compensates for his 5’8″ stature with sharp two-way play, excellent hockey sense, and a dangerous one-timer.
Zetterberg excels at creating scoring opportunities and maintaining a heavy motor away from the puck. This season, he tallied 21 goals and 58 points in 45 games with Örebro J20 and another 37 points in 24 international games.

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He’s quick, deceptive, and ready to inject a fresh dose of offence into the offence-starved Canucks’ prospect pool.
Melvin Fernström, Örebro (J20 Nationell)
Position: Right-wing
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’0, 187 lbs
When there’s an Alexander Zetterberg point, Melvin Fernström is probably not too far away.
Fernström is a talented forward who excelled at the J20 level with Zetterberg at Örebro, leading the league with 31 goals and finishing third in points with 63 total. Internationally, he impressed with 12 goals and 25 points in 27 games for Sweden U18.
Known for his potent shot, including a powerful one-timer and slapshot, Fernström is primarily a shooter but also a capable passer with good vision. Like many on this list, his skating lacks quickness and speed, affecting his transition game and one-on-one battles.
Realistically, he likely requires the most attention to improve his defensive responsibility amongst any of the names mentioned above.
Standing 6’0″ and 187 lbs, Fernström has the size and potential to develop into something more. If he can address his motor and some of his defensive habits, he could become a valuable mid-round gem.

The RHD

We don’t have to tell you twice: the Canucks need all of the help they can get on the right side. With an abundance of left-shot defenders, it would be wise to focus on one of the remaining RHD hopefuls, should they be available.
In our Mock Draft, we had Oshawa Generals RHD Ben Danford selected for this spot. While he would be an obvious choice, we simply do not feel that he will be made available this late.
Here are our next choices.
Colton Roberts, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’4, 194 lbs
Of all the defenders on this list who may have an outside chance of being available, Colton Roberts may be our key target. It helps that he’s a local kid playing for the Vancouver Giants.
What’s not to like, really? He’s a towering defender who skates surprisingly well and has improved his game in nearly every facet during his sophomore year. He can make plays with his strong vision, he can jump up into the rush, and he should be able to provide some secondary offence while playing further down the lineup.

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As with every prospect this far down the list, there’s some cleaning up to do in many areas. Yet, given his incredibly projectable toolkit and pro-ready size, he feels like the best gamble to develop into something more.
Luca Marelli, Oshawa (OHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’2, 179 lbs
At this stage of the draft, Luca Marrelli feels like a very safe and welcome pick. He’s not necessarily elite in any area but plays a strong two-way game and carries various projectable traits.
Defensively, he’s robust and consistent, giving no room to opponents and utilizing his long reach to shut down plays. While he’s not the most effective defender on the rush, there’s plenty of time to improve.
In the offensive zone, he’s always engaged and effective. In his third OHL season, he doubled his production from the blue line, finishing eighth amongst all defenders with six goals and 57 points across 67 games.

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In time, Marrelli plays a style that could secure him a bottom-pairing NHL role.
Tory Pitner, Youngstown (USHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’1, 183 lbs
At his best, Tory Pitner plays an extremely effective shutdown game. Whether he uses an active and timely stick or simply uses his body, he’s likely reading the play to end it quickly.
Just ask his USHL coach, Ryan Ward.
With just 33 points across 86 games in the USHL in two seasons, it’s clear that his offence capabilities aren’t anything to write home about. However, given the upside at the other end of the ice, there could be some third pairing upside down the road.
He’ll bring his talents to the University of Denver this upcoming season, where we will truly see how projectable that offence can be.
Sebastian Soini, Ilves (Liiga)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’2, 194 lbs
Sebastian Soini is a 6’2″, 194-pound Finnish defenceman who has garnered attention for his solid defensive mobility and physical presence.
He spent the 2023-24 season primarily with KOOVEE in the Mestis (Finland’s AHL equivalent) and tallied eight points in 32 games. He also made six appearances in the Liiga with Ilves and contributed a lone assist.
Soini excels at using his size to clear the net and win puck battles, while his mobility allows him to defend effectively against the rush. While his offensive acumen needs work, his profile is one that skill coaches can certainly work with, given his four-way mobility and balanced game.

The other centremen

Max Plante, USNTDP (USHL)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 5’10, 170 lbs
Do you like elite playmakers who play the game at full speed? Max Plante is your guy.
Often referred to as a “boom or bust” type, Plante has many offensive traits that make him a polarizing target. He is as crafty as they come, finding targets from anywhere on the ice. Moreover, he can make those passes at top speed, which is something the Canucks could desperately utilize.
Plante has posted strong numbers throughout his career, primarily from assists. While some question his one-dimensional production due to his lack of finishing, his speed and creativity make him a hard name to pass up at this point in the draft.

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Despite being somewhat smaller in stature, he has the potential to become a valuable NHL forward.
Ollie Josephson, Red Deer (WHL)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 6’0, 181 lbs
Ollie Josephson’s game simply screams, “Projectable for the middle-six.”
He is a relentless worker who always moves his feet and puts his all into each shift.
In the WHL, Josephson is considered a premier shutdown pivot, hounding puck carriers, providing strong forechecks, and playing responsible three-zone hockey. Playing for a pedestrian offence in Red Deer, Josephson tallied 12 goals and 47 points as a sophomore, adding another five points in nine playoff games.
While he may never provide incredible offensive numbers, his face-off skills, hockey IQ, and incredible motor make him a promising prospect with the potential for a shutdown role in the NHL.
Though it’s never easy predicting who will be available at this stage of the draft, this a list of prospects who cover a wide spread of areas of need for the Canucks’ prospect pool: Centres, right-shot players (both defenders and forwards) and some much-needed skill.
Check back soon for another round of targets.

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