The debate between drafting for need versus drafting the best player available is never-ending. Jim Benning even admitted so recently in an interview with Sportsnet 650.
Drafting the best player available is the most logical things to do. However, the Vancouver Canucks do have some glaring needs that they’d probably like to address with the 10th overall selection in the draft.
With Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat in the fold, the Canucks are well positioned at the centre position. Jacob Markstrom is coming off an impressive year, with Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro in the pipeline, so they should feel comfortable in goal as well.
The Canucks’ biggest needs are high-end scoring on the wing and top-end talent on defence.
With that in mind, here are five players that would fill the Canucks two most pressing needs at 10th overall.
Position: Right-side defenceman
Size: 6-foot-4, 207 pounds
Stats: 29 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS
Hulking defenceman Moritz Seider could become just the second German player this decade to be drafted in the first round after Leon Draisaitl went third overall in 2014.
A bit of a late bloomer in this year’s draft, Seider only improved his game as the year went on. He was noticeable for Team Germany as one of only three draft-eligible players at the World Championships, along with top prospects Jack Hughes (USA) and Kappo Kakko (Finland).
Seider is already a great skater and a good passer. Most importantly, he’s a stout defender in his own as well. There aren’t many holes in his game and his upside is that of a first-pairing defenceman.
Position: Right-side defenceman
Size: 6 feet, 183 pounds
Stats: 44 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS
You might wonder why neither of the two defencemen on this list aren’t named Philip Broberg. While Broberg does possess a lot of positive attributes, the holes in his game make him an extremely risky pick in the top 10. He’s also a left-shot defenceman, and it’s the right side where the Canucks desperately lack top-end talent.
Victor Soderstrom is the opposite of a risky pick. In fact, his biggest flaw might be that his ceiling isn’t that of a top-pairing defenceman. However, Soderstrom is an elusive skater with great poise and puck skills. He’s a rather safe bet to be a top-four, right-shot defenceman, and players like that don’t grow on trees.
Position: Left wing / Centre
Size: 5-foot-11, 181 pounds
Stats: 64 GP, 19 G, 49 A, 68 PTS
A torn Achilles might affect where Peyton Krebs lands on draft day, but there’s no doubt that he was an electrifying hockey player last season. Krebs displayed his on-ice intelligence all season long, wowing scouts and fans even though he played on an awful Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice team.
Krebs has speed to burn, great edges, and innate puck skills. He plays the game hard even though he’s not the biggest player at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.
He can play both left wing and centre, and his versatility makes him an intriguing option for the Canucks. Krebs plays his heart out, and he has the top-six potential to go along with it.
Position: Right wing
Size: 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
Stats: 12 GP, 6 G, 2 A, 8 PTS
This draft is not heavy on Russian players, but it’s the polarizing Vasili Podkolzin who represents his country at the top of draft boards.
While he didn’t light it up statistically this season, there’s a lot to love about his game. However, what makes Podkolzin such an intriguing player is that he blends offensive ability and an aggressive nature better than anyone near the top of the draft.
In short, watching Podkolzin play hockey is fun. Sometimes, he’s overly aggressive, but that combination of tenacity and puck skills makes him an intriguing option for the Canucks, who lack both of those right now.
Position: Left wing
Size: 6-foot-2, 192 pounds
Stats: 28 GP, 17 G, 26 A, 43 PTS
There’s a solid group of forwards in the top-12 of the draft who have first line potential, but there might not be a better or more realistic fit for the Canucks than Matthew Boldy.
You really have to look hard to find flaws in Boldy’s game. He can score goals, is a good passer, has size and speed, and is responsible in all three zones.
The Canucks have been desperately lacking a goal-scoring winger with size for much too long, and drafting Boldy would go a long way towards solving that problem. Dare I say it, but he might be the perfect fit for the Canucks at 10th overall.