6 best players Canucks just missed drafting in the last decade

May 19 2023, 11:42 pm

The Vancouver Canucks have hit on a number of draft picks in the last 10 years.

Players like Bo Horvat (2013), Thatcher Demko (2014), Elias Pettersson (2017), and Quinn Hughes (2018) were wins at the draft table for the Canucks.

But they’ve also had some misses.

And those misses become even more pronounced when a team behind them drafts a much better player. For the purpose of this list, we looked at players drafted one or two spots after Vancouver made a selection. We didn’t count players like Valeri Nichushkin (taken behind Horvat in 2013) or Travis Konecny (taken after Brock Boeser in 2015), given there wasn’t a dramatic difference in value for the player chosen.

Here are the six best players the Canucks just missed drafting since 2013.

Shea Theodore (2013)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Hunter Shinkaruk

After picking Horvat ninth overall in 2013, the Canucks snagged another forward with their second pick of the first round, taking Hunter Shinkaruk 24th overall. Perhaps they should have opted for a defenceman.

Two picks later, the Anaheim Ducks took blueliner Shea Theodore from the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Langley native has developed into a star with the Vegas Golden Knights, scoring 41 points (8-33-41) in 55 games this season.

William Nylander (2014)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Jake Virtanen

It was a controversial pick at the time and has looked worse every year since for the Canucks. Vancouver opted to take bruising forward Jake Virtanen sixth overall in 2014, bypassing William Nylander, who the Toronto Maple Leafs took two picks later.

Nylander scored 40 goals for the Leafs last season and has 430 points in 521 career games. Virtanen, by contrast, is already out of the league.

David Pastrnak (2014)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Jared McCann

Jared McCann has blossomed into a very good player, albeit after the Canucks gave up on him. He scored 40 goals with the Seattle Kraken this season and has many more good years ahead of him.

But he’s not David Pastrnak.

The Boston Bruins took Pastrnak one spot after the Canucks chose McCann 24th overall in 2014, and the Czech winger has gone on to become one of the NHL’s very best offensive stars. Pastrnak is a Hart Trophy finalist this year after scoring 61 goals and 113 points. He’s scoring at better than a point-per-game clip for his career, with 617 points in 592 career games.

Matthew Tkachuk (2016)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Olli Juolevi

Being a Hart Trophy finalist isn’t the only thing Matthew Tkachuk has in common with Pastrnak. He too was passed over by the Canucks in the draft, only to be selected by another team one pick later.

Perhaps the game’s best power forward, Tkachuk is one of only three players to score more than 40 goals and 100 points in each of the last two seasons.

Vancouver had the chance to grab Tkachuk with the fifth pick in the draft in 2016, but instead chose Olli Juolevi. The Finnish defenceman has appeared in only 41 NHL games and spent the entirety of the 2022-23 season in the AHL.

Adam Fox (2016)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Will Lockwood

Adam Fox was a third-round draft pick, so needless to say, there weren’t any GMs that thought he would win a Norris Trophy one day, like he did in 2021.

Still, when you look back at the 2016 draft, Canucks fans have to wonder what could have been.

Vancouver chose winger Will Lockwood out of the USHL with the 66th overall pick that year. Two picks later, the Calgary Flames chose Fox, an offensively gifted right-shot defenceman.

We’ll never know if Fox could have been convinced to play in Vancouver, as he essentially forced his way out of Calgary.

Matthew Boldy (2019)

Who the Canucks picked instead: Vasily Podkolzin

While there’s still time for him to develop into an important player, it’s safe to say the Canucks would probably like a do-over on their first-round pick in 2019. The Canucks chose Vasily Podkolzin, passing over a pair of high-scoring American forwards from the US National Development Team.

One of them was winger Matthew Boldy, who the Minnesota Wild selected two picks after Podkolzin. Boldy has made an instant impact since turning pro in 2021 and has 102 points in 128 games. He scored 31 goals and 63 points last season, establishing himself as one of Minnesota’s best players.

Podkolzin, by contrast, has 33 points in 118 career NHL games.

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