It may be the biggest loss in Vancouver Canucks history. As of today’s NHL Draft Lottery, the Canucks have fallen from third to fifth position at the draft.
While the top three picks are a given – Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi (though there is some debate on the order) – choosing fifth puts them in an interesting position.
Both Trevor Linden and Jim Benning said they would have taken the “best player available” with a top-three draft pick – meaning a forward. With them selecting at five, it could mean they prioritize drafting a defenceman rather than players rated higher.
According to TSN’s rankings of the top prospects, left wingers Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois sit in the fourth spot and fifth spot respectively.
“Tkachuk and Dubois are big body wingers who play power games and provide an extraordinary blend of grit and goals.”
While those descriptions might make Canucks fans salivate, they’re well aware of the team’s need to find a stud defenceman. So is the team, and Linden repeated something he’s said before prior to seeing the lottery results – he said the only way NHL teams get top-4 defencemen now is through the draft.
Earlier this season, Jim Benning said teams that win the Stanley Cup all have a clear number one guy on the blue line.
Clearly Benning and Linden want a defenceman. But how badly?
TSN’s list has defencemen listed seven to nine in their rankings: Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev, and Jakob Chychrun in that order.
Hockey Prospect Radio’s Shane Malloy appeared on TSN 1040 Radio earlier this week. Asked which of Juolevi or Sergachev he thinks is better, he said:
“Juolevi probably, but Sergachev is right there…
“I think Juolevi will have a higher ceiling in terms of offensive production, but overall Sergachev is a horse. Think of a guy like Matthius Ohlund and what he brought to your team for over a decade. That’s the type of player you could get out of Sergachev.”
With that in mind, the question is if Vancouver selects a blue liner, will they shrewdly trade down to six, seven or eight, still getting one of the top defencemen, or will they use the fifth pick to ensure they get the guy they want?
Rob Williams had these quotes from Benning prior to the lottery:
“We’ve done our homework on this and we feel in the top-six there’ll be one defenceman we’ll have our eye on and if he’s there we’ll take him.”
“If we pick five or six then we’ll look to take that defenceman.”
And VancityBuzz writer Ryan Biech tweeted this insightful information:
Based on the information we know at this moment:
1 – Matthews
2 – Laine
3 – Puljujarvi
4 – Dubois (?)
5 – Juolevi
6 – Tkachuk (?)
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 28, 2016
Clearly Canucks management has some thinking to do. That said, what would your call be?