Do the Vancouver Canucks have enough star power in their prospects to sufficiently replace the Sedin twins?
The Vancouver Canucks have accumulated quality prospects through the trade market and the draft. This is undoubtedly the best pool of prospects this team has had in recent memory and it will continue to get better next year as the Canucks will look to get yet another top pick in the 2018 Entry Draft.
But in today’s NHL in which skaters peak in their mid-20s and stars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews emerge in their teen years, top prospects don’t have until age 25, 26 to make their NHL debuts.
Do the Canucks have these elite prospects who can contribute before long?
The truth is that the rebuild cannot carry on forever. Looking back to how the Edmonton Oilers were before the arrival of McDavid, we know that time isn’t the omnipotent answer for the development of young NHL players.
For the first time since the beginning of the Sedin era in Vancouver, the Canucks may have elite prospects who could turn out to be game-changers for many years to come.
We present to you Week 4, the conclusion of The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking. As we are taking a look at the most complete and elite prospects, let’s move away from the conventional look at the strengths and weaknesses to a more holistic analysis of these prospects.
The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking
Our TCW staff ranked all Canucks prospects. The criteria: whatever each writer thinks is important. Current position in the organization, talent, potential, and chance of NHL success. All prospects under 24 years of age were considered as long as they did not spend significant time in the NHL.
Starting off our final week is winger Jonathan Dahlen, ranked No. 5.
No. 5 LW Jonathan Dahlen
Weight: 176 lbs
DOB: 1997-12-20 (Age 19)
Drafted: 42nd Overall, 2016
2016-17 Stats: 45GP – 25G – 44PTS – 18PIM (Allsvenskan, Timra)
Acquired from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Alex Burrows, Jonathan Dahlen comes to Vancouver after being ranked the second-best prospect in the Senators’ system. Many pointed to the trade as the best of general manager Jim Benning’s tenure and possibly the best one made at the 2017 Trade Deadline. Is Dahlen that good of a prospect?
In the Allsvenskan last season as a 19-year-old, Dahlen was among the league’s best offensive players. The numbers speak for themselves.
- 44P/45GP = 0.98 points/game (ranks #3)
- 25G/45P = 0.56 goals/game (ranks #1)
- 180 shots on goal = 4 shots/game (ranks #2)
- 18:53 TOI (tied #6 among players with 12+ GP)
- 9 shootout attempts (ranks #1)
Dahlen is an elite goal-scorer in the Allsvenskan and his team recognizes it, giving him more shootout opportunities than anyone else got in the league. Dahlen proved that can score in multiple ways this past season. He can shoot, drive to the net, tap in a pretty passing play, or deke the goaltender out of position.
Dahlen is also a capable playmaker. Just like his goal-scoring that comes thanks to his ability to read offensive plays develop, his playmaking put his Hockey IQ on display.
The most impressive thing is that he can do both the scoring and the passing at a very high game speed despite not being the fastest skater in the world.
Don’t get me wrong. Dahlen is a good skater. His speed is decent and his strides are very strong. He is described as having a low centre of gravity, making him more difficult to check than his 176-pound weight might suggest. Nevertheless, Dahlen is a strong skater who is swift and fluid.
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If he can add more explosiveness and increase his top speed to the level his mind already can process at, Dahlen will be an extremely difficult forward to contain when playing on a line with a playmaker like Elias Pettersson.
The two played together this past season in Timra and they may be reunited in the Swedish Elite League should Dahlen not stick with the AHL Utica Comets. The Canucks have indicated that the plan for Dahlen is to be in Utica if he is close to being NHL-ready.
Going back to Sweden to be with Pettersson for another year won’t hurt their chemistry, though. The duo is being hailed as potentially the next Swedish duo to lead the Canucks to glory. A side of me, however, wants to see Dahlen get a shot with the Sedins, at least in preseason.
To make the NHL, however, Dahlen has a few things he has to do. He’s a pretty capable forward already with no glaring weaknesses to his game, but he certainly needs to get stronger. Adding muscle to his body without losing his agility will be key.
As a testament to his hard work on the ice, Dahlen gets a plenty of ice time. He ranked second on his team among forwards by ice time and sixth overall among all forwards.
The Bottom Line
Dahlen loves to score. He will come out of the corners to the front of the net. He will find space on an odd-man rush to finish or to set up a goal. He will shoot on the powerplay. He will get open for breakaways.
Dahlen plays a fast game with a lot of shifty skating involved. His shooting is elite in the sense that he can fool netminders with different shot angles, often shooting against the natural momentum of his body.
He also works hard on and off the ice. His effectiveness can only improve if he puts on more weight and strength without sacrificing mobility.
If he can do these things and play on the smaller North American ice, Dahlen’s potential is that of a bonafide top-line winger. At worst, he will be a third-line scoring winger hampered by his lack of strength and the inability to adjust to the smaller ice, but he won’t be worse than a Mason Raymond.
– 2017 TheCanuckWay Prospects Ranking Top 20 –
#6 – RW Nikolay Goldobin
#7 – RW Kole Lind
#8 – C Adam Gaudette
#9 – RW Jake Virtanen
#10 – LW Jonah Gadjovich
#11 – D Jordan Subban
#12 – F William Lockwood
#13 – G Michael DiPietro
#14 – D Guillaume Brisebois
#15 – D Evan McEneny
#16 – F Petrus Palmu
#17 – D Jack Rathbone
#18 – D Jalen Chatfield
#19 – F Cole Cassels
#20 – D Kristoffer Gunnarsson
The Honourable Mentions
And on that note, the Alex Burrows trade should be celebrated as one of the greatest trades in recent Canucks memory. Hopefully Jim Benning takes note of this and continues to do the same in the coming trade deadlines to come.