Vancouver Canucks Would Pick Defenseman in Top 5 of 2016 NHL Draft


Embed from Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning revealed that he will take a defenseman if Vancouver ends up picking outside of the top four.

The Vancouver Canucks have to wait just one more night to find out where they will pick in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. While there will be an incredible amount of talent available in the top 10, the exact position could change a lot about what kind of player the Canucks will go for.

As TSN insider Bob McKenzie said in an interview with TSN 1040 on Wednesday, most NHL scouts believe the top-six players in this year’s draft are forwards.

Who those players are does not seem to be a secret either: the European “top tier” of Auston Matthews (ZSC Lions, NLA), Patrik Laine (Tappara, Liiga) and Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat Oulu, Liiga) and the North American “second tier” of Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL), Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights, OHL) and Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads).

 RW Patrik Laine — Draft Profile Faceoff — RW Jesse Puljujarvi

However, McKenzie also noted that some scouts have a defenseman in their top five. Here, the consensus top three are Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting, OHL), Olli Juolevi (London Knights, OHL) and Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires, OHL).

According to McKenzie, a few scouts see a D-man in their top five, but there is no one top-five player there. Juolevi, Chychrun, Sergachev and even Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) and Dante Fabbro (Penticton Vees, BCHL) have cracked the top five on different scouts’ lists.

More from The Canuck Way

One of those teams are the Vancouver Canucks. In an interview with Sportsnet‘s Dan Murphy, Canucks GM Jim Benning made it clear that Vancouver wants to pick a defenseman if they fall out of the top four.

“In the top six there’ll be one defenseman that we have our eye on,” said Benning. “And if he’s there, we’ll take him.”

He still wants to go with the best player available, no matter at what position, but thinks there is one D-man who belongs in the top six: “we’ve done our homework on this and we feel in the top six there is a defenseman and if we pick five or six, we’ll look to pick that defenseman.”

Now, Benning said there is a defenseman “in the top six”, not the top five. However, — his words, not mine — the Canucks will select that defenseman if they pick fifth or sixth.

Despite what McKenzie said on the top-six players all being forwards, the Canucks would get an extremely talented D-man in the top six as well. The big question is: who is that D-man?

The Canuck Way Draft Profile: D Olli Juolevi

“Quite frankly, of the ten scouts I just surveyed, not very many have a defenceman in the top-5″ said McKenzie. “There’s not a lot of consensus on who the top defenseman is in this draft.”

Furthermore, he believes trading down is a very real option if the Canucks have that one defenseman they really want.

“If you really felt strongly about having a defenseman and you were at five or six and wanted to trade down a couple of spots, I guess you’d obviously get something to do that” McKenzie said.

Canucks writer Ryan Biech believes the defenseman Benning is talking about might be Juolevi:

There is speculation that Juolevi is the one defenseman Benning would break up the top-six forward group for.

All that will obviously only be necessary if the Canucks fall out of the top three at Saturday’s NHL Draft Lottery, where the Canucks have an 11.5 percent chance to win the first-overall selection.

It is hard not to get excited about the odds, but it is important to keep in mind that the Canucks’ odds at a later pick are almost eight times as high. The likeliest scenario, as seen in the graphic above, is the fifth-overall selection.

Next: Best and Worst Case at Draft Lottery

So, if you want to see a Vancouver Canucks draft board sorted by likeliness, here we go:

  1. Olli Juolevi
  2. Pierre-Luc Dubois/Matthew Tkachuk
  3. Matthew Tkachuk/Pierre-Luc Dubois
  4. Auston Matthews
  5. Jesse Puljujarvi
  6. Patrik Laine

As you can see, picking Juolevi does not only seem to be a likely scenario. It might actually be the likeliest.