The Vancouver Canucks are headed into the All-Star Break. Time for a peek at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
While Daniel Sedin is “forced” to spend some time in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game(s), all other Vancouver Canucks get to take a break. We, on the other hand, won’t join in on that break, and start our 2016 NHL Entry Draft coverage instead.
It is still early in the year, but it is never to early to look at players who might end up standing on stage at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York, on June 24th, wearing a blue-and-green Orca jersey. The Canucks’ first-round selection can theoretically turn out to be somewhere between seventh and 30th overall. Realistically, it could be anywhere from seventh to 20th — assuming Vancouver won’t make it far in the playoffs.
Still, that is an incredibly big range. Luckily, the draft is always a lottery, and scouts and teams rank players differently. For example, one player on this list ranks sixth on the latest ranking of Hockeyprospect.com, but 18th on ISS Hockey‘s list.
Another thing that needs to be considered is: who would the Canucks even target? Daniel Wagner of the Vancouver Courier tried to answer that question — but I have to disagree. From the article:
"As much as it would be awesome to draft a franchise forward like Matthews or any of the other top tier forward prospects like Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Alexander Nylander, or Matthew Tkachuk, the Canucks might be more likely to fill their greatest need if they don’t get a top-five pick. What’s the biggest need in the Canucks’ system right now? It should be immediately obvious: defence. The Canucks have blue-chip talent in the pipeline at forward, not to mention the young players already in the lineup. […] The Canucks also have a blue-chip prospect in net, as Thatcher Demko is one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey. Where they don’t have, however, is a blue-chip prospect on the blue line."
It is hard to argue against the fact that Vancouver desperately needs some high-quality defence prospects, but it is easy to argue that teams should refrain from drafting by need. Especially defencemen tend to take a long time to develop — often three years or more. Needs change in such a long time. An easy answer to that problem: draft the best player available.
So, let’s take an early look at some players that are likely to end up in the Canucks’ draft range and who Vancouver should definitely keep an eye on.
Next: D Olli Juolevi