Best players likely available for Canucks to draft according to 13 experts

Jun 2 2022, 6:26 pm

For the first time in three years, the Vancouver Canucks are slated to make a first-round pick.

The Canucks ended up with the 15th overall pick last month after they yet again failed to move up in the draft lottery.

So, who might be available for the Canucks at #15?

Let’s check with the experts to see who they have ranked 15th. These are coming from rankings, not mock drafts, but they do provide a sense of who may be available for the Canucks when they step onto the stage in Montreal on July 7.

1. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW (Craig Button/TSN, Recruit Scouting)

Two prospects on this list were listed at #15 by more than one outlet, including Russian winger Ivan Miroschnichenko.

The 18-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March. His season was finished after the diagnosis and he’ll likely miss most of the 2022-23 season.

Thankfully, the survival rate for this cancer is high.

Prior to the diagnosis, Miroschnichenko was seen as a can’t miss, top-10 prospect. Scouting reports applaud is his elite skating, goal-scoring ability, and physicality.

2. Owen Pickering, LHD (Sportsnet, Elite Prospects)

Owen Pickering is a bit of a unicorn in this year’s draft.

The 6-foot-5 defender possesses a rare blend of mobility and puck-handling ability for a player of his size.

He doesn’t come without flaws however. With 33 points in 65 games, Pickering isn’t as offensively dominant as some of his defensive peers. He can also be turnover prone.

Pickering is rawer than the other top prospects on defence, but his potential is high.

Ironically enough, Pickering’s cousin, Denton Mateychuk (LHD), is another possible target for the Canucks in the first round.

3. Isaac Howard, LW (Bob McKenzie/TSN)

This American winger was one of the darlings of the recent U18 World Hockey Championships.

Isaac Howard led all Americans with 11 points in six games, including a four-goal performance against Canada.

Similarly to Nils Höglander, Howard is an undersized winger with a knack for playmaking, finding the dirty areas, and scoring goals.

4. Gleb Trikozov, C/RW (FC Hockey)

Gleb Trikozov torched Russia’s top junior league (MHL) this season with 23 goals and 45 points in 32 games. He wasn’t able to replicate that same success in the VHL (Russia’s equivalent to the AHL) with just two points in 11 games.

Still, Trikozov has a deadly shot and a high hockey IQ that ranks among the best in this draft class.

FC Hockey has him ranked higher than most outlets, with most ranking him from mid-first round to late-second round.

5. Marco Kasper, C (McKeen’s Hockey)

Marco Kasper’s stock has risen as his season progressed.

The Austrian centre was able to stick in Sweden’s top hockey league (SHL) for 41 games this season. He recorded seven goals and 11 points in the process. Kasper also posted three goals and six points in 13 playoff games.

Kasper played for one of the best teams in the SHL, Rogle, who recently developed Höglander and Detroit Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider.

He doesn’t have the highest offensive ceiling, and projects more as a middle-six centre.

6. Cutter Gauthier, LW (Draft Prospects Hockey)

There’s a ton to like about Cutter Gauthier’s game. He projects as a power forward at the NHL level, can skate well for his size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), plays a 200-foot game, and has decent offensive instincts.

Scouting reports suggest that Gauthier’s game just needs some fine-tuning, as he could work on shot selection, cutting down on risks and overall shift-to-shift consistency.

7. Elias Salomonsson, RHD (The Puck Authority)

Right-shot defencemen are always hard to find, and Elias Salmonsson fits that bill while possessing decent mobility and puck control.

Salomonsson’s consistency has wavered this year, but Scott Wheeler from The Athletic suggests that his flaws are easy enough to look past.

“He’s got work to do to tighten up his positioning and his reads but the things he needs to work on tend mostly to be about reps and maturity,” Wheeler wrote in February. “I like his comfort level under pressure and confidence for a player as young as he is.”

Salomonsson is also one of the youngest players in this draft class with his birthday coming two weeks before the cut-off for draft-eligible players this year.

8. Jiri Kulich, C (Smaht Scouting)

Jiri Kulich is a well-rounded prospect. Despite being slightly undersized (6-foot, 172 pounds), the Czech centre has a high-compete level, goes to the net, and has an above-average shot. He also held his own in the Czech Republic’s top league this season.

Kulich captained the Czech squad at the U18 World Championships this year. He was also given MVP honours after scoring nine goals in six games.

The 18-year-old projects as a third-line NHL centre.

9. Filip Mesar, RW/C (Dobber Prospects)

Filip Mesar is one of the best pure skaters available in this year’s draft, in terms of both speed and edge work.

The undersized winger played in Slovakia’s top league this season, and led his team in the playoffs with three goals in six games.

10. Lian Bichsel, LHD (Corey Pronman/The Athletic)

Swiss defender Lian Bichsel is a physically imposing defenceman who ranked third among U18 players in the SHL with 29 games played.

Bichsel is already 6-foot-5, 225 pounds despite being one of the younger players in this draft (he just turned 18 on May 18th). Most importantly though, considering today’s NHL game, he skates well for his size.

He projects as a defensive defenceman, and he could be a top-four rock at the NHL level if he progresses nicely over the next couple of seasons.

11. Rutger McGroarty, LW (Scott Wheeler/The Athletic)

Rutger McGroarty has the elements to become a power forward at the NHL level. He has a strong combination of size (6-foot, 205 pounds) and a high-level playmaking ability.

McGroarty recently scored eight goals in six games for the United States at the U18 World Championships.

He’s looking to become only the second player born in Nebraska to be drafted by an NHL team. Jake Guentzel was the first and only Nebraskan to be drafted into the NHL, when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him in the third round back in 2013.

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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