Round 1: Vasily Podkolzin (10th overall)
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Podkolzin has two years left on his KHL contract, but once he makes the jump to the NHL, expect big results. He brings good size (6-foot-1, 190 pounds), and is a natural goal-scorer with an elite all-around skill set.
Throw in the Miller trade, and it’s hard not to be optimistic about the look of Vancouver’s future top six. Podkolzin has all the makings to be a future 30-goal scorer here on the west coast, and he’ll make a giant impact once he makes it to the NHL.
Benning didn’t go off the board here., and he didn’t have to pay a hefty price to trade up. He got a world-class talent with the No. 10 pick, and it won’t be long until Vancouver finally becomes an offensive machine again.
Round 2: Nils Höglander (40th overall)
The Canucks found excellent value in Swedish winger Nils Höglander, whom Corey Pronman of The Athletic (subscription required), ranked as the No. 18 prospect of the 2019 draft back in May.
Winger wasn’t the biggest organizational need for the Canucks here. Not after they landed Podkolzin and Miller. But you can never fault Benning for taking a talented scoring winger who was probably the best guy available.
Höglander has the tools to be an impact player in the NHL. He isn’t exactly a franchise-changing superstar, but he could be a serviceable bottom nine forward. There really isn’t a whole lot to dislike about the pick here.
It was a low-risk move with a potentially very high reward. Good on Benning for adding another scorer in his prospect pipeline. That never hurts.
Round 4: Ethan Keppen (122nd overall)
Around this point of the draft, teams are simply taking guesses and hoping for the best, but I really like what Keppen can bring to the table. He’s got good size (6-foot-2, 212 pounds), and brings much needed toughness and physicality.
Keppen scored 30 goals and 59 points for the Flint Firebirds of the OHL this past season. Pronman believes Keppen is among the Vancouver draft selections “with reasonable chances to play games in the league.” It’s a smart pick for the Canucks.
Round 5: Carson Focht (133rd overall)
I was expecting a defenceman here, but the Canucks were likely just going with who they thought was the best player available. Centre isn’t exactly the organizational need, with Horvat, Pettersson and Adam Gaudette filling out those roles.
At any rate, Focht had a strong showing with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, scoring 26 goals and 64 points in 68 games. He’s got a long path ahead of him in trying to turn professional, but in terms of his overall skill level, there isn’t much to dislike about the selection.