Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: LW Riley Tufte

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 owned seven picks early in each round. That changed after trading the second and fourth-round selections to the Florida Panthers, but who knows what will happen on draft day to get those back. 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.

If the Canucks want to add size, left winger Riley Tufte of the USHL Fargo Force could be a great choice!

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Name: Riley Tufte

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

Height, weight: 6’5”, 211 lbs

Team/League: Fargo Force, USHL

Stats (from 















NHL CSS Ranking: 17th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 3/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-Six Winger

Draft Range: Late First Round

Scouting report

"Powerful shot, intensely challenges goalies, is a great offensive threat. Tufte greatly benefited from his dominant high school performance along with added USHL experience. He could use work on overall skating, but will likely transition into a scoring power forward in the professional game. (Future Considerations Draft Guide)"


Riley Tufte started the 2015-16 season with the Fargo Force, but decided to go back to Blaine High School after 12 games in the USHL. It was a curious move that made it even harder for scouts to judge his potential, but it seems to be paying off. A hulking 6-foot-5 winger, Tufte dominated the USHS and won Mr. Hockey in Minnesota, before returning to Fargo with huge confidence.

A typical power forward, Tufte tries to play a simple game, despite the skill he has. When he gets the puck, he takes off and tries to get to the net as quickly as possible. He has a powerful wrist shot with an NHL-level release, which he uses often and successfully.

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However, that is not to say he has a lack of vision and doesn’t see what happens around him. Tufte sees the ice well and sets up his teammates, he just doesn’t do it in very flashy ways. When he doesn’t see an opportunity to deke around his opponent, he likes to chip the puck into the offensive zone, beat the defender to it, and set up a teammate from down low.

Tufte uses his size and reach to protect the puck, and he does so exceptionally well. He beats opponents along the boards and in the corners with ease, not just at the high school level, but also in the USHL. With his frame, there is little that can stand in his way and be a physical threat.

Considering his frame, Tufte is quite mobile, allowing him to move around the ice well. He needs to improve his top speed, but so far, it has been enough when used in combination with his frame.

Tufte is a work in progress, but he oozes skill and has a lethal shot.


As mentioned above, a lot of what Tufte does is done with raw skill. He is a developmental project who will need a lot of work before he can step into the pro ranks. A first full season at the junior level will be a good first step.

In the strengths section, I called Tufte a typical power forward, because of the way he drives to the net using the shortest way, always ready to snipe a puck at the net. However, a huge missing piece to be that power forward is physicality. Being 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds, Tufte did not need to try hard to knock over his high school opponents. He will have to work on that in the future, and add some grit and nastiness to his play as well.

Having spent almost his whole draft-eligible year in the USHS, it is hard to judge how far Tufte really is in his development, and how much further he can go. Scouts like his raw skill enough to have him ranked as a first-round pick, though.

Final Thoughts

The Vancouver Canucks were a soft team that got beat up by bigger squads like the Los Angeles Kings with regularity this season. Adding Nikita Tryamkin and Erik Gudbranson was two steps in the right direction, and Riley Tufte could be a part of that movement again. There aren’t many teams who would say no to a big power forward like him.

Unfortunately, there is an issue with that. The Canucks’ first-round pick is way too early for Tufte, and they don’t own a second pick. However, he would be a prime target if Vancouver can acquire a late first-round selection via trade.

Next: More 2016 NHL Draft Profile

Tufte will need at least three years to develop into a good professional player. But once he makes it to the pro ranks, the wait will be well worth it. Just wait for it.