Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: F Cliff Pu

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Here’s OHL London Knights forward Cliff Pu!

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Name: Clifford Pu

Position: Center/Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Height, weight: 6’1”, 187

Team/League: London Knights, OHL

Stats (from 







NHL CSS Ranking: 75th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Middle-Six Forward

Draft Range: Late First to Second Round

Scouting report

"There was a point where we were kind of wondering what’s going to happen to this guy, but he’s improved leaps and bounds this season. We’ve seen him over the last six or eight weeks really use his speed well. That’s been the biggest thing. Playing on a line with Max Jones and being able to feed a goal scorer like that has made huge difference for him. ("


Cliff Pu is a speedy forward with the potential to be a top-six power forward on the NHL level. But, buried behind players like Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk on a deep London Knights roster, he has yet to get the chance to prove what he can really do.

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Pu is a terrific skater with excellent speed and agility, which he uses to his advantage whenever he can. Though “only” 6-foot-1 tall, Pu should be able to create the combination of size and skating coaches drool over, once he gets stronger over the next years. Power forwards are often below-average skaters, but for Pu, it is a huge asset.

On the ice, Pu looks much bigger than what he is listed as already, because he uses his frame — however large it may be — well on the forecheck, in the corners or in front of the net. Pu is not only a quick and agile skater, but he is also strong on his feet and hard to knock over. He works hard down low and wins puck battles against bigger opponents.

But, Pu is definitely not a well-skating grinder. He knows very well how to handle the puck. Whether on the rush or in the offensive zone, he can deke around opponents or battle through defense with the puck on his stick, and then distribute it to teammates or finish plays himself.

As mentioned above, Pu did not get too much of a chance with the Knights this year. However, he arguably played his best hockey when thrust into a bigger role while Marner and Tkachuk were in Finland for the World Junior Championship.


Call it a weakness if you will, but maybe it is just something that may hurt his draft position. Scouts are unsure if Pu really will break out once guys like Marner and Dvorak are gone, or if he will simply continue to play a third-liners game. He displays a lot of skill and talent, but will that be enough for a first or early second-round pick?

An area where Pu obviously needs to get better is the play away from the puck. In the neutral zone and on defense, proper positioning is an issue. Pu is a strong offensive forward who works very hard in all three zones, but when we’re talking defensive awareness, there is room for improvement. The same goes for his play in the neutral zone.

Lastly, Pu is another forward like Pascal Laberge or Boris Katchouk, who do a lot of things right and are good at a lot of things, but they are not really elite in anything. Pu is a terrific skater, but that’s about it for elite attributes. That said, if you get to choose one thing to be elite in, skating probably isn’t a bad choice. Being good in many different areas can obviously be seen as a strength at the same time.

Final Thoughts

You will find people who see Cliff Pu as a late third or even fourth-round pick. But don’t be surprised if his name is called on Day 1 of the draft. While Marner and Tkachuk were away at the World Juniors, Pu got a first chance to show what he can do, and that is likely what he will continue to do next season, in a bigger role. For the Vancouver Canucks, the Knights forward is definitely an option at 33.

As always, it depends on what GM Jim Benning wants, and that is hard to guess. If he wants a player that is very likely to make the NHL, Pu will be high on his list. Since it is hard to determine what kind of player he will be at the next level, the team that picks him will have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The worst being that Pu becomes a bottom-six energy winger.

Next: More 2016 NHL Draft Profiles

Some scouts believe Pu could be the next Christian Dvorak, who had 14 points in 33 games for the Knights in his draft year, before exploding to 109 and 121 the next two seasons. Therefore, Pu could certainly go off the board in the late first round, and he is even a player worth trading up for.