Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: C Gabriel Vilardi

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in 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; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in 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 2017 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Once again the Vancouver Canucks failed to secure a spot in the NHL playoffs. So, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the upcoming months to prepare next season’s roster. Now that the organisation is officially in a ‘transition period’, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will be of utmost importance.

A four-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season gave fans hope for the playoffs. But — blame the coach, the roster, injuries or anything else — unfortunately, the team was unable to play competitively for an entire season. With that, they are guaranteed another high draft pick this year.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming draft by profiling as many 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.

This year’s draft seems wide-open, with no real consensus in any of the seven rounds. So, it will certainly be interesting to see who will put on a Vancouver Canucks jersey come June.

Today, we take a closer look at Gabriel Vilardi of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires!

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Name: Gabriel Vilardi

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

Birthdate: 1999-08-16

Height, weight: 6’2, 192 lbs

Team, league: Windsor Spitfires, OHL

Stats (from








#4 by
#3 by ISS Hockey
#3 by Future Considerations
#5 by McKeen’s Hockey
#4 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 5/5

NHL-potential: First-line center

Draft Range: Top five

Scouting report

"A dynamic and often brilliant offensive attacker…has skilled hands and outstanding awareness…looks to set up his linemates with timely passes, but can also finish off the play when the opportunity is there…has nice size and uses it to protect the puck…has a quick jump and agility on his feet, but is not really a speed demon screaming up the ice…plays aggressively both when his team does and does not have the puck; often hunting it down and stripping it from his opponent…has a bag of tricks he uses to shake defenders and get his hard, accurate wrist shot off or dish a soft pass…very difficult to knock off the puck and is able to dangle in very tight spaces while under heaps of defensive pressure…a toolsy center who is just scratching the surface of his potential…a constant threat in the offensive zone…has the look of a future offensive catalyst at the NHL level. (Future Considerations)"


More from Draft

The 2016-17 Windsor Spitfires team included several returning players already drafted into the NHL, such as Logan Stanley (Winnipeg Jets), Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators) and Mikhail Sergachev (Montreal Canadiens). Even so, it was the 17-year-old Vilardi who led Windsor in scoring.

This is all the more impressive considering he is one of the youngest players available in the draft: he will not turn 18 until Aug. 16, 2017. This makes him almost a full year younger than projected first-overall Nolan Patrick, who was born just after the cutoff for the 2016 draft.

Vilardi is blessed with good size, and is deceptively quick on his skates. His shot, likewise, is fast and accurate — particularly his wrist shot, which he can release a split-second before a goaltender is prepared.

He is also an excellent stickhandler, and his size and reach make him difficult to knock off the puck. Vilardi has great hockey sense, and attacks the puck when the other team has possession.


Like fellow center prospect Nolan Patrick, Vilardi has missed some time for medical reasons this past season.

He missed the first five games of the Spitfires season with a knee injury sustained back in August. Then in November, he had to have his appendix removed, which kept him out of the lineup for several more weeks.

Neither the knee injury nor his illness appear to have slowed him down, as he still led the Spitfires in scoring despite missing almost 20 games. But, his shortened season may cause him to fall one or two places on draft day.

Final Thoughts

In the first round of the 2017 OHL playoffs, Vilardi’s Windsor Spitfires lost a bitter seven-game series against the Canucks’ own Olli Juolevi and his London Knights. Windsor led 3-1 in the series, before London stormed back to win the next three games.

Despite the loss, Vilardi played well, scoring two goals and six points in the series. One of his goals proved to be the winner in game three. The other tied the game in the second period, setting up an overtime win for the Spitfires.

Vilardi’s season is not done yet, though. Windsor is hosting the 2017 Memorial Cup, and so he and the Spitfires will get one last chance to compete before the summer.

Next: More 2017 NHL Draft Profiles

After that, could he join former rival Juolevi in a Vancouver Canucks uniform? It all depends on the draft lottery. Vilardi is projected to go early in the draft, likely between third and fifth overall. Fifth is the lowest position the Canucks will draft, so Vilardi may be right in their wheelhouse.

Regardless of lottery outcome, whichever team drafts Gabriel Vilardi will land themselves a promising young centerman with a bright future.