The Canucks have a dozen games to go and evaluations continue to take place for the NHL team while the AHL club rolls their way towards the playoffs.
It’s almost time to start looking at the draft and what the Canucks can do in the offseason to make this a retool instead of a rebuild.
As per usual, we have another good crop of questions from the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter. Let’s reach into the mailbag and dig out some of this week’s best questions!
Yes, I left Joni Jurmo off my top-10 ranking of the Canucks’ prospects. As much as I like the raw potential in his size and skating, there has not been a big step in the right direction for his development this season. Jurmo has played in 50 Liiga games this season and has totalled up 10 points throughout the season.
His last month has been a big drop-off as he played seven to nine minutes a game as the season wrapped up and has been a healthy scratch in the early stages of the Liiga playoffs. He still shows a lot of potential due to his raw physical talents but the question for me has always been about his decision-making. Speed is important in the current NHL but you need to be able to use your mind more in time with your feet and this season didn’t look like it was an improvement for Jurmo.
The good news is that there are still two more seasons to judge if Jurmo is worth giving a shot in North America. He’s still a teenager and a couple more years of Liiga will surely help him round out his game before his June 1st, 2024 sign-by date.
He’s one of the prospects who will need to take a big step in 2022-23 to have a real NHL future.
As of right now, he has not shown enough for me to have him in the top-10 of the Canucks’ prospects. I’d still have defencemen Viktor Persson and Jonathan Myrenberg ahead of him when it comes to rankings in the Canucks’ pipeline.
Mikey DiPietro will not require waivers next season. The projection
is that he will require waivers in the 2023-24 season.
DiPietro is also without a contract for next season but it is expected that there should be no problem getting a deal done and having him be the starter in Abbotsford next year.
I’ve been told that there is a small chance he turns pro after this season as many NHL teams are interested in the big right-shot defenceman’s services if he were to turn pro.
Jake Livingstone is currently playing in the frozen four NCAA playoffs with the semi-finals happening on Thursday and the finals on Saturday.
We will definitely keep tabs on how his season concludes and will be touching base with the player and his camp on if there is a drive to go pro in the coming weeks. As I mentioned earlier, what I’ve been told is that he is leaning towards going back for his junior year with Minnesota State Mankato.
The BC-born Livingstone played in the BCHL with the Langley Rivermen and should be near the top of the Canucks’ NCAA free agent wishlist. He is a perfect example of why the Canucks’ organization needs to have prospect camps in the summer and can get to know these BC-born NCAA players so that there’s a comfortability between the organization and the player to hopefully lead to a signing in the future. We see the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins do an incredible job of this in the offseason and it pays dividends with their ability to land so many of the top NCAA free agents.
Livingstone has 30 points in 42 NCAA games this season and is regarded as one of the best defence prospects in the NCAA if he were to leave school at the conclusion of the 2021-22 year. If he goes back for another year of NCAA hockey, the 22-year-old defenceman will be highly sought after at the conclusion of next year’s NCAA season.
It is most likely that the Canucks will be selecting in the 12-14 range at the upcoming NHL draft. There is obviously a chance that they win the lottery and move up a maximum of 10 spots due to the new changes to the lottery. As Canucks fans know, that is not likely to happen. Instead, we will do as the question asked and look at some possible picks for the Canucks with their 2022 first round pick while also evaluating some right-shot defencemen.
We will get into draft coverage in a few weeks but some names to note are Marco Kasper, Sam Rinzel, Conor Geekie, Cutter Gauthier, and Lian Bichsel.
Marco Kasper is an exciting winger who is showing well in his SHL season this year with seven goals and four assists as a 17-year-old. He plays for Rögle, the same SHL franchise that saw Nils Höglander develop through his teenage years. Kasper is a reliable winger who brings a ton of effort on every shift and is able to control the puck well at full speed. He may not showcase the high-end scoring touch just that be he does have a nose for the net and isn’t afraid of the dirty areas on the ice.
If you’re looking for a rising right-shot defenceman in this coming draft, Sam Rinzel is a player to keep an eye on. Rinzel does a great job of knowing where open ice is coming and can move the puck up ice by carrying or making passes. He’s 6’4″ and ranked outside the first round on many of the top scouting sites’ rankings, so he may be a player the Canucks can trade down to acquire.
At 6’4″, the big Winnipeg Ice centre Conor Geekie has many scouts excited to see him continue to grow his game over the next couple of years. He has the hands and size to be a centre in the NHL but there are some questions about his skating stride. He skates quite tall in his stride and has a bit of a lanky kick to his pushes. Geekie is a pass-first centre who looks strong during board battle against WHL competition. Though he is a pass-first type of centre, his shot may be one of the top assets in his toolbelt. It’s not a stretch to say he has one of the top-15 shots in this coming draft and he clearly projects to be an NHLer in a few years. If he can dial in his skating over the next two years, he could be a big impact player as soon as the 2023-24 season.
There are excellent skaters at the top of the first round but Cutter Gauthier may be the best skater that’s projected in the middle of the first round. At 6’3″, Gauthier has both the size and speed that NHL scouts love. Craig Button of TSN is a huge fan and has him ranked at #6 on his most recent rankings. Gauthier has been a rising prospect throughout the season and has been scoring at a strong rate with the United States National Team Development Program. He likely translates to a winger at the next level and he is committed to Boston College for the 2022-23 season. You’d like to see his shot pop off the stick a bit harder over the next few years but his raw talent and straight-line speed is super exciting to watch in the USHL.
It would be a bit of a reach as many have him going in the second round, but Lian Bichsel is so much fun to watch. He is a massive left-shot defenceman who towers over SHL competition with his 6’5″ frame. His smooth skating shocked me in the first few watches and had me wondering what was holding him back from being a surefire first-round pick. The more you watch, the more difficult it is to imagine that he falls into the second round. He’s mean, strong, controls the puck so well and is able to see the ice for breakout passes. It may look like a reach right now but come draft day, someone is going to select this kid in the top 25 of the NHL draft.
Well, that wraps up another Monday mailbag here at CanucksArmy. It’s just about time for me to turn the calendar over into draft season and we will return to the series of “Scouting with Faber” soon. We will be following as the Vancouver Canucks’ season concludes as well as the next step for the Abbotsford Canucks with playoffs just around the corner.
It’s still an exciting time of the year for Canucks’ fans and we will have you covered with all the latest news and analysis here at CanucksArmy. As always, thanks to those on Twitter for asking great questions and we will see you next Monday, be well.