Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: D Filip Westerlund

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.

Under the microscope today: Swedish blueliner Filip Westerlund!

Name: Filip Westerlund

Position: Defense

Shoots: Right

Birthdate: 1999-04-17

Height, weight: 5’11”, 181 lbs

Team, league: Frolunda HC, SHL

Stats (from 







#72 by Future Considerations
#15 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2.5/5, 3.5/5

NHL-potential: Top-six defenseman

Draft Range: Top 90

Scouting report

"Westerlund is a defenseman who stands out with his vision and puck control. Plays a calm, cerebral game and can hit forwards with long passes from the backend. Defensively, there is room for improvement given his hockey IQ. Also, his skating could use some work, especially his first few steps. Isn’t that agile yet, either.– Erik K. Piri, Elite Prospects (2016)"


Filip Westerlund is a promising two-way defenseman who would be a surefire second-round pick if he was a tad bigger and stronger. He is a quick skater with good four-direction mobility, allowing him to keep a tight gap and be effective against the rush. Westerlund displays strong defensive awareness as he knows where to be on the ice to close down passing lanes and cover his man. Furthermore, he gets engaged in board battles and works hard, although he isn’t the biggest player.

His defensive awareness also helps Westerlund on the breakout. He always knows where the forecheckers and his teammates are, allowing him to move into open areas and play a calm, controlled breakout passes. Westerlund can carry the puck up ice himself as well, thanks to solid speed and mobility as well as quick, smooth hands.

Offensively, Westerlund is not nearly as flashy as countrymen Erik Brannstrom or Timothy Liljegren. However, he continuously stands out as a great passer with excellent vision who can distribute passes and set up scoring chances.


Although size becomes less and less of an issue in the NHL, Westerlund’s size and strength are concerning. At 5-foot-11, he will inevitably struggle against big, elite NHL forwards, no matter how hard he works.

More from Draft

Yet, a player of Westerlund’s size can be extremely successful in the NHL, if he contributes enough offensively. Here he might encounter the next issue. He is a smart passer with good hands, but he doesn’t have Brannstrom-like flash or a Liljegren-like shot. Can he be an offensive impact player at the highest level?

Last but not least, Westerlund’s skating is a bit of a concern. He often tries to make quick, elusive plays that require strong edge work, but fails to execute them. The smarts and creativity are there, but his feet can’t keep up. A quick, mobile skater who struggles with deceptiveness and tight turns.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to like about Westerlund, especially his smarts and puck skills, as well as his defensive play. But, there are also enough things that worry scouts and might prevent teams from picking him in the top-two rounds. Despite a strong showing at the U18 worlds, where Westerlund spent most of his time on the third pairing, he is likely a candidate for the early third round.

With that, the Canucks could target him with their 64th-overall pick. Whether they go with two forwards in the first two rounds or simply want to draft the best player available, Westerlund will be an option. Right-shot defensemen are a hot commodity in the NHL these days, and drafting one is the best way to aquire one.

Next: 2017 NHL Draft Profile Overview

On the other hand, Vancouver is at the beginning of a much-needed rebuild that will take a long time to finish. Perhaps they would like to kickstart it with high-potential players. Westerlund is promising, but there are certainly others who have higher upside.