Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: C Skyler McKenzie

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 /

If the Vancouver Canucks are willing to take a little risk, Skyler McKenzie could be their guy in the late rounds of the draft.

The Vancouver Canucks‘ focus is probably on the fifth-overall pick, and that’s the way it should be. But knowing that it will be hard to miss completely with an early pick like that, the later ones become extremely important.

Especially in the Canucks’ current situation, a late-round home run would be huge for the rebuild.

One player who might have home-run potential is WHL Portland Winterhawks center Skyler McKenzie.

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Name: Skyler McKenzie

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

Birthdate: 1998-01-20

Height, weight: 5’8”, 160 lbs

Team, league: Portland Winterhawks, WHL

Stats (from 







#176 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 4/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-six center

Draft Range: Fourth to seventh round

Scouting report

"Fearless small man is a second year eligible wing has enjoyed a super productive 80 plus point season with the Winterhawks, but the fact that he is counted upon to be am all situation player who blocks shots, and sacrifice hs body in any situation. You can argue that he benefits from playing on Cody Glass’s wing, but they actually feed off each others play. A key penalty-killer. Displays a quick release that helped him reach a 42 goal season. Some team might get a player despite his diminutive size.  (Bill Placzek,"


Skyler McKenzie is an overage center who had a huge breakout year this season. After scoring just eight goals and 25 points in his first year of eligibility, McKenzie put up an impressive 42 goals and 84 points in 2016-17. But that’s not the only thing he has to offer.

More from The Canuck Way

McKenzie is a hard worker who tries to make up for his size deficiencies by outworking the opponent. He constantly buzzes around the ice and plays with an incredible amount of energy, never afraid to match up against bigger players. McKenzie battles hard along the boards and manages to win battles despite his tiny frame. In addition, he is an excellent penalty killer who is relied on in key situations.

Offensively, McKenzie stands out in multiple ways. He is an extremely quick skater who can either make plays with speed or slow things down, always controlling the pace of the game. Beating McKenzie in puck races is almost impossible, and he manages to hold on to the puck in traffic and under pressure, thanks to his smarts, quickness and puck skills.

McKenzie has excellent hockey IQ and makes the right decisions to have an impact as both a passer and a shooter. He sees his teammates very well and can deliver crisp set-up passes, but he is also an excellent shooter who can get pucks in the net before the goalie even sees it coming. Overall, McKenzie is an extremely dangerous forward who is willing to battle through his lack of size.


McKenzie is one of the many forwards that make you wonder, how small can an NHL center be? At 5-foot-8, McKenzie is not only far from ideal NHL size, but he is in a size range that lets players drop way down the draft board. There are enough players that have proven it’s possible, but it’s impossible to generalise that for every short player.

Especially with McKenzie’s style of play, size could be an issue. One of his standout attributes is his energy level and the fact that he plays bigger than his size, but doing that against NHL players is a whole different story.

Lastly, McKenzie had a major offensive breakout season. Was that a fluke or is it sustainable? More importantly, can he transfer his production to the next level? It’s almost impossible to project.

Final Thoughts

If the Canucks want third-liners, they can get them in free agency. They don’t cost much, and there are plenty of them available. Just hand out a cheap contract to a ‘random guy’ and let him play in the bottom six. It’s that easy.

Signing top-six players, on the other hand, is much more difficult. A star player like Loui Eriksson is extremely expensive and might not even live up to the hype. For that reason, it is important to develop talent from within the organisation.

There is no point in drafting six players that will likely make the NHL, if they don’t have a high ceiling. If the decision is between a high-floor, low-ceiling player and a high-risk, high-reward prospect, the Canucks should definitely go for the latter.

Next: All 2017 NHL draft profiles

And if that’s the way they decide to go, McKenzie will be an excellent option. He might never make the NHL, but if he does, he has great potential to be a top-six scorer.