On June 23rd the Vancouver Canucks will find themselves selecting fifth at the NHL draft; a position the west coast fan base is far too familiar with. On the heels of a season that saw the Canucks finish in the bottom three of league standings for the second consecutive year, a complete rebuild is just what the doctor ordered. However, just as it was in 2016, the magical lottery balls did not fall in favour of Vancouver.
Vancouver Canucks NHL Draft Preview
Moving forward, the Canucks management team led by Trevor Linden and Jim Benning are in a very precarious position. Last summer they drafted Finnish defensemen Olli Juolevi with the fifth overall selection. The team also made a big splash in free agency signing Loui Eriksson to a lucrative deal with an AAV of $6 million.
The logic behind the Eriksson deal was the hope that he could slot on the wing with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. All three players subsequently had some of the worst statistical seasons of their careers. There are so many needs for the Vancouver Canucks moving forward that it is difficult to pinpoint where to begin.
Make a deal at the Entry Draft
While the current state of the Canucks is discouraging to fans, the future isn’t all that bad. Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, and Juolevi are the future of this franchise. Beyond those four Vancouver does not possess a deep prospect pool. This is a team that has been among the most competitive in the NHL up until the last few seasons. Their aging core has become stale and now that the rebuild is in full flight it’s time to start transferring current assets for foundational pieces that will assist this team down the road.
The most intriguing chip that this team has to dangle in a potential trade is Chris Tanev. At 27-years old, Tanev is still very much in the prime of his career, and what better time to acquire assets in exchange for a top pairing defensemen than the entry draft? Last season Ray Shero set the bar for what it takes to acquire top a line winger. Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson shocked many. It turned out to be a reasonably fair return for Hall as Larsson stabilized the back end in Edmonton. The Tanev situation is different but its a fair comparison. Trading for draft picks would also be beneficial for the Canucks long-term plan.
Long Term Needs
Horvat has proven to be a very capable player at the centre ice position. However, he isn’t a true top line pivot. Once Henrik Sedin retires that top line position is up for grabs. As it stands there is no one there to fill the void. A Nico Hischer or Nolan Patrick would’ve been nice, but it isn’t wise to trade up for an asset the Canucks could have had for free.
The two players that appear to fit into Vancouver’s mold moving forward are in the form of big centres Michael Rasmussen and Cody Glass. Rasmussen could be a popular selection among fans due to his 6’6″ frame. He is also a native of Surrey, British Columbia. Be warned Canucks fans: drafting a local boy isn’t always a wise decision. While Jake Virtanen is still young, his development has’t gone as the club would have hoped.
The list of needs for this team is a long one. The rebuild is poised to be even more grueling. Though Vancouver didn’t get the top three draft pick they desired, this is arguably the most important draft of their existence.
BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 24: Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks attends round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)