Ranking the last 10 Canucks first round picks from worst to best

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Oct 1, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Olli Juolevi (48) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Olli Juolevi (48) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

#9: Olli Juolevi: 2016 fifth overall

Olli Juolevi was the Canucks highest draft pick in years and he turned out to be a big disappointment. The pick was met with criticism at the time it was made because the Canucks passed on Matthew Tkachuk (Juolevi’s teammate in London.) who went the very next pick to the Calgary Flames.

What made things worse was that several defencemen taken after Juolevi are now solid NHL defencemen. They include Mikhail Sergachev, (Taken ninth Tampa Bay Lightning) Charlie McAvoy (14th overall by the Boston Bruins) and Jakob Chychurn. (16th overall by Arizona Coyotes.)

Juolevi was a highly touted defenceman going into the draft. Scouts praised his complete game and his puck-moving skills as well as his playmaking ability. Then-General Manager Jim Benning justified drafting Juolevi by saying they needed a defenceman.

Juolevi had the upside and the potential but it didn’t work out. Part of it was due to the injuries he sustained when trying to make the NHL. In the summer of 2018, he suffered a back injury while doing offseason training. As a result, he needed “a microdiscectomy procedure for a disc in his low back”.

He managed 13 points in 18 games with the Comets the following season but his season ended with a knee injury which required surgery. After that, Juolevi wasn’t the same and that was noticeable with his defensive zone play and his pivoting. He finally made the NHL in the bubble in game 4 against the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round.

Would Juolevi have been a decent NHL player without the injuries? Maybe. After playing 23 regular season games and recording three points with the Canucks, he was traded Juolevi last September to the Florida Panthers for Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen. Lammikko turned out to be a decent fourth line centre while Juulsen looked solid in Abbotsford.

As for Juolevi, he played 10 games with the Panthers this past season before being claimed off waivers by the Detroit Red Wings and he played eight games with them. He recorded zero points this past season.

Unfortunately, Juolevi will be best known in Vancouver for looking during a bag skating session at last year’s training camp.

#8: Hunter Shinkaruk: 2013 24th overall

Hunter Shinkaruk was a machine with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers.

In his draft year, he scored 37 goals and 49 assists for 86 points in 64 games. Those are insane numbers.

Scouts praised his goal-scoring ability as well as his skating and playmaking. However, his biggest flaw was his size standing at only 5’10” and 186 pounds. That could be the reason why he fell to 24th overall. At the time, it looked like the Canucks got themselves a potential steal.

He impressed fans in the preseason with this snipe against the San Jose Sharks.

Before the 2016 trade deadline, he was traded to the Calgary Flames for Markus Granlund. Canucks fans took that trade with fury.

Unfortunately, Shinkaruk could not translate his game to the NHL. He only played one game with the Canucks and managed 76 points in 119 games with the Comets. He only played 14 games over two seasons with the Flames managing two goals and two assists. Shinkaruk was putting up decent numbers in Stockton but he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Kerby Rychel in August 2018.

After that, Shinkaruk did not see the NHL again and played for the Laval Rocket and then the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL. In 2019, he left North America and played two seasons for the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star in China before signing for Latvian KHL side Dinamo Riga.

Part of the reason why Shinkaruk did not work out was injuries. He suffered a torn labrum early in the 2013-14 season and underwent hip surgery in January of 2014.

It’s a shame he didn’t pan out because it looked like he had the potential to be elite and was so fun to watch in the WHL.