Canucks: Potential 2020 NHL draft targets that are NCAA bound

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vancouver canucks

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Jim Benning attends the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Much uncertainty surrounds the Vancouver Canucks’ scouting system following the announcement that Judd Brackett is leaving the organization.

The Vancouver Canucks enjoyed great success under amateur scouting director Judd Brackett, drating players that developed playing hockey at the NCAA level. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes are examples of first-round selections that are prominent core members on the current roster.

Thatcher Demko and Adam Gaudette are other examples of players selected beyond the first round that refined their skills at the collegiate level. Jack Rathbone, Tyler Madden, and Will Lockwood are all on the verge of beginning their professional careers after choosing a similar route. Hopefully, the Canucks will continue to identify and draft such prospects.

The Canucks may very well be without a selection in the 2020 NHL draft until the third round. Let’s take a look at some defencemen that may be available in the third round and beyond that are committed to various NCAA universities.

Eamon Powell

Height: 5’11”    Weight: 165 lbs.

Shoots: Right

Team: U.S. National Team Development Program

NCAA commitment: Boston College

An extremely high hockey IQ along with terrific skating ability are necessary traits for an undersized defenceman. Eamon Powell possesses both those attributes. He shows the ability to make quick decisions and passes the puck exceptionally well.

He uses his agility and quickness to exercise tight gap control through the neutral zone and to angle attackers to the outside in the defensive end. The only noticeable deficiency in his game is the lack of strength.

Additional gym time afforded to NCAA players, as opposed to the rigorous game schedule of those playing junior hockey, should prove beneficial. Powell projects as a possible 4-5 defenceman with some offensive upside but is several years away from cracking an NHL lineup.

However, if he is available when the Canucks draft in the third round and develops the way I think he will, it may prove to be a draft day steal.

Brock Faber

Height: 6’0″    Weight: 194 lbs.

Shoots: Right

Team: U.S. National Team Development Program

NCAA commitment: University of Minnesota

Another intelligent two-way defenceman from the USNTDP who may be available in the third round is Brock Faber. Faber skates well and provides a steady, reliable defensive game.

He does like to jump into the play in the offensive zone, but his best work takes place defensively. Faber is competent in transitioning the puck with safe passes leading to relatively few turnovers. He’s not overly physical but uses his size to his advantage in puck battles.

Yan Kuznetsov

Height: 6’3″    Weight: 201 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Team: University of Connecticut

The draft rankings are all over the map when it comes to Russian-born defenceman Yan Kuznetsov. He is ranked as high as 30th by the International Scouting service and as low as 170th by McKeen’s hockey. Already having one year of NCAA hockey under his belt, and two years in the U.S., Kuznetsov is well-adapted to the smaller North American ice surface.

His first season at Connecticut, where he was the only U18 defenceman playing in the NCAA last season, proved successful. Kuznetsov showed steady progression in his game and provided a solid, reliable defensive game.

Kuznetsov shows terrific mobility for his size, and he thinks the game exceptionally well. The big-bodied defender provides a physical game, particularly in front of his net. His offensive ability is somewhat limited in that he lacks creativity and his vision. His decision making in the offensive end is questionable. Kuznetsov may develop into a shutdown type defender with top-four upside, and he could be a steal as a mid-round selection.

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