It’s over.
The 2022 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, and it has passed by without a single Vancouver Canucks trade having occurred.
Patrik Allvin’s Canucks selected six new prospects to pad out the organization, but many in the fanbase and mediasphere expected more. Namely, players like JT Miller, Tyler Myers, and maybe Conor Garland or Brock Boeser were meant to be shipped out, with more 2022 draft picks theoretically coming back in return for them.
Cap dumps were meant to happen. Previously drafted prospects were supposed to be acquired.
Instead, six picks, no movement, and it’s on to the Free Agent Frenzy.
That’s why, despite plenty of excitement around Jonathan Lekkerimäki and the rest of the 2022 draft class, this particular NHL Entry Draft was a frustrating experience for a vocal portion of fans. Again, the fanbase is being asked to be patient, and it’s no surprise that some are plum out of patience.
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Vancouver fans waited patiently through eight years of the Jim Benning Era, resulting in a strong core but an empty prospect cupboard and a handful of cap nightmares. Then, they waited through a tense 2022 Trade Deadline, just for Tyler Motte to be flipped for a fourth round pick. They’ve sat through hours of Pierre McGuire, waiting for a big trade, and now, they’re waiting still.
That’s frustrating. Annoying, at the very least. Anti-climactic, to be sure.
We’re here to sympathize, but we’re also here to be realistic. More patience is, unfortunately, going to be required. Fortunately, this time around there’s a real good chance that the patience pays off.
The 2022 Entry Draft was only really a “deadline” for specifically acquiring 2022 selections, and that’s not the be-all and end-all to retooling the Canucks. On the contrary, the 2022 draft class is generally considered to be a little on the weak side. There’s something to be said for getting prospects into the system and developing as quickly as possible so as to hasten their NHL impact, but quality matters far more than expediency in the long run, and Allvin and Co. are in it for the long run.
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The 2023 draft class, on the other hand, has been widely noted as shaping up to be the best in a good, long while. There is expected to be high-quality talent available throughout the 2023 first round and well into the later rounds, too.
Never mind that, by the 2023 Entry Draft, the freshly-minted Canucks front office will have had an entire season-and-a-half to sort out their scouting department in full.
So, in the grand scheme, the Canucks are probably better off to stock up on 2023 picks than 2022 picks, if both options were on the table.
And the acquisition of 2023 picks is definitely still on the table.
There’s a long offseason yet to come, followed by an even longer regular season — one in which the Canucks are not expected to be especially competitive.
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The only upcoming deadline that really matters is the 2023 Trade Deadline, and that’s only really a deadline that applies to trading Miller before he walks (and Bo Horvat, too, if he’s not extended by then, and perhaps Luke Schenn).
Beyond those three, the Canucks have until the 2023 Entry Draft to acquire picks in return for players like (probably not) Boeser, Garland, Myers, and even the likes of Tanner Pearson and Jason Dickinson.
In other words, there will be LOTS of opportunities left to acquire 2023 draft picks. A whole year’s worth, in fact.
Maybe a team misses out on some big ticket UFAs like Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri, and decides to up their offer for Miller in the hopes of competing in 2022/23. It could be the bidding wars get out of control at the 2023 Trade Deadline and the Canucks walk away with a coup. Perhaps a single year of a contract like Myers or Pearson looks a whole lot more appealing on Draft Day 2023 than it does right now.
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It’s okay to be a Canuck fan and be frustrated at the lack of movement. It’s definitely okay to be out of patience, because who wouldn’t be at this point? But although this is the same ol’ fanbase suffering through the waiting, it’s important to remember that this is a brand-new management team. The Canucks are on a fresh path, and with 2023 picks still on the horizon, it’s a path that hasn’t yet been truly compromised on.
So, if you can’t manage patience right now, try to at least keep a lid on the full-blown panic for now. The best opportunities could still be yet to come.