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

Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
26 days ago
We’re back for another round.
After covering a list of third-round targets, it’s time to dive into the fourth round.
Here’s a refresher on all the Vancouver Canucks’ draft picks this year:
  • Third round, 93rd overall
  • Fourth round, 125th overall
  • Sixth round, 162nd overall
  • Sixth round, 189th overall
  • Seventh round, 221st overall
In our third-round targets, we made a conscious effort to focus on the centre and right-shot defence positions, given the lack of depth in those areas.
We’re sort of sticking with that positional need in mind. Now that we’re looking at the fourth round, it’s time to start taking some swings.
Let’s dive right into some fourth-round targets.

Up the middle

Heikki Ruohonen, Kiekko-Espoo (U20 SM-sarja)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 6’1, 196 lbs
Heikki Ruohonen is a name that piqued our interest, even as a third-round target. Given his current projections, however, the Canucks might be able to snag him in the fourth round.
The left-shot center checks off all kinds of boxes and carries many projectable traits that show NHL promise.
Ruohonen is praised for his sound defensive game and plays reliable hockey in all three zones. He combines that with strong skating and a newly found zest for flashy playmaking.
The above paved the way for a second-place finish among draft-eligible skaters within the U20 SM-sarja (Finland’s junior circuit) with 20 goals and 47 points, nearly a 40-point increase from his previous season.
That offensive output isn’t likely to fully translate to the top leagues, but Ruohonen feels like a prospect who can be a key contributor in your bottom six, if not middle-six, down the road.
You won’t find many charts better than this in the depths of the fourth round.
Chart courtesy of Lassi Alanen of EliteProspects.
Aatos Koivu, TPS (U20/U18 SM-sarja)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’0, 170 lbs
Both Mikko and Saku Koivu were two of the most respected centers to play the game. That legacy carries weight.
Well, the Canucks may have the opportunity to select a Koivu of their own, as Saku’s son, Aatos, is one of the top Finnish prospects this season.
Splitting his time between the U18 and U20 Finnish leagues, Aatos did not dominate the slate statistically. He posted just over a point per game at both levels, with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 20 games at the U18 level and 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 28 games in the U20 circuit.
While he has an above-average shot and fluid skating ability, points don’t necessarily tell the whole story about him. He takes after his father with his responsible two-way play and mature habits. In fact, before this year, he was primarily considered a defensive centre.
But as you’ll see in the compilation below, his shot is his sharpest tool in the belt.
Standing at 6’0 and 165 lbs, he will need to add some weight to help translate his game to the North American pro level. However, considering the career his dad carved out for himself at 5’10 and 181 lbs in his era, perhaps it’s a non-issue.
Ethan Procyszyn, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
Position: Centre
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’2, 187 lbs
Ethan Procyszyn feels like a bottom-six NHLer already.
Standing at 6’2 and 187 lbs, he’s a physical pivot who thrives on using his body, whether in his own end or on the forecheck. His high motor and willingness to battle in high-danger areas help him stand out.
While his skating needs improvement, Procyszyn excels in tight spaces, scoring most of his goals from close range. As a crash-and-bang center with some offensive skills, he’s an intriguing mid-round gamble.
In his sophomore season, he broke out with 15 goals and 36 points for the North Bay Battalion, nearly doubling his previous totals from 2022-23. With this pick, you’re banking on his defensive shutdown potential.

The speedy wingers

Kevin He, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 6’0, 183 lbs
Pace like He’s does not grow on trees.
Kevin He, a 17-year-old winger, is all motor.
Known as one of the best skaters in the entire class, he uses his blazing speed to hound puck carriers all over the ice as a relentless pest.
Playing for the basement-dwelling Niagara IceDogs, He finished second on his team in scoring by just a single point, with 31 goals and 53 points.
While he needs to add more substance to his game, it’s rare to find young players displaying such sheer speed and work ethic. When you combine that with crafty hands in tight, there are some exciting pieces to work with.
At this stage of the draft, you almost have to take the flyer.
William Zellers, Shattuck St. Mary’s (PHC)
Position: Centre/Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height/weight: 5’11, 170 lbs
In our round three targets, we highlighted Max Plante, a smaller but offensively gifted dynamo. In the fourth round, we turn our attention to William Zellers, a similar undersized offensively-minded forward.
Zellers dominated the table for Shattuck St. Mary’s, scoring a league-leading 69 goals and 133 points in 68 games. Known for his high-speed play, he excels with his excellent skating and quick hands, making him a formidable opponent off the rush. His ability to read plays and beat defenders in various ways adds to his offensive threat.
Given the numbers and high-paced skill, there’s a good chance that he’s off the board well before the fourth round. Yet, valid questions about his ability to translate this success to the professional level could lead to him slipping down the ranks.
His commitment to the University of North Dakota kicks off this fall, where he will provide a clearer picture of his potential. If he can add physicality to his game, we could be looking at a mid-draft gem.

More right shot rearguards

Who knows, perhaps one of our names in our round three target slips through, making them easy targets for the fourth round. If not, a few other RHDs would make for intriguing selections in this range.
Anthony Cristoforo, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 5’11, 181 lbs
We like a lot of things about Anthony Cristoforo’s game, and it all begins with the name.
In his debut season (2022-23), he burst onto the scene with the Windsor Spitfires to lead the OHL rookie defender group with 41 points in 63 games. He took on a much larger role as a sophomore, though his output dipped slightly to 38 points in 68 games. Largely in part due to playing on the league’s second-worst team.
This challenging environment spilled into several aspects of his game. His defensive play was inconsistent, and he struggled with positioning. This led to a dreadful plus/minus rating of minus-43, the fourth-worst in the OHL. Bear in mind, the Spitfires had nine of the league’s 25 worst players by plus/minus, which is a pretty good tell that his numbers should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
Despite these challenges, Cristoforo remains a solid-skating, right-handed defenceman with a knack for offence and a competitive edge. Given his poor team environment this past season, his potential to be a steal later in the draft is high.
Alexis Bernier, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’1, 185 lbs
Alexis Bernier, a 6’1 “, 185 lb right-shot defenceman, feels like a safe and reliable pick. Plain and simple.
While he may not dazzle in any one area, his sound two-way play, good skating, and intelligent decision-making make him an easy fourth-round target.
This season, he nearly doubled his point totals from his rookie year, finishing with 31 points. Unlike Cristoforo, Bernier improved his plus/minus rating, going from a minus-11 in his rookie campaign to finishing this past season with the sixth-best plus/minus among defenceman with a plus-38.
Tomas Lavoie, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’4, 225 lbs
Tomas Lavoie, a former first-overall QMJHL pick, is a sizable right-shot defenceman who covers the ice well with his long reach and decent mobility. His commanding presence in the defensive zone, whether it’s net-front battles or corner play, makes him a standout.
Lavoie has put up modest numbers in junior, with 40 points in 124 junior matches. With that in mind, his primary value probably lies in his defensive prowess rather than his offensive output. While we like his blistering shot from the point, the bet is that he’ll end up patrolling your third pair while contributing significantly to the penalty kill.
You just cannot teach size.

The overager

Anthony Romani, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
Height/weight: 6’0, 179 lbs
We have finally hit our first double-eligible prospect, an Ontario native who took the Ontario League by storm this season—and we mean it.
Finishing second among all skaters, Anthony Romani jumped from 43 points in his sophomore season (2022-23) to a whopping 111 points this season, including a league-leading 58 goals.
Honestly, it’s one of the more impressive progressions you’ll see.

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Known for his high hockey IQ, playmaking ability, and powerful shot, Romani is a wizard at finding open spaces to unleash his improved shot. He’s a strong rush player who capitalizes on his constant movement to sift through defenders.
So, what made him miss the cut last year? His 43 points didn’t necessarily jump off the page, and his defensive and physical game needed work.
Now 18 and fresh off flexing his offensive muscle, he’s well worth the mid-draft selection.
Check back soon for deeper rounds as we continue our search for value in the mid-to-late ranges of the 2024 NHL Draft.

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