The Vancouver Canucks are off to an excellent start to their 2023-24 campaign, and that means no draft watching! For now, anyway. Getting these picks right (or wrong) has played a big part in the Canucks’ struggles over the years, and without landing Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in back-to-back years, there’s no telling where this team might be.
Taking a look at the Canucks prospect pool, there’s a few things that stand out. With Vasily Podkolzin, Jonathan Lekkerimäki, and Arshdeep Bains on the wings, that’s not necessarily a position of need. Right-shot defense is more of a short-term, NHL roster need with Tom Willander and Hunter Brzustewicz in the system. Unless we’re counting Aatu Raty, the Canucks don’t have a blue-chip center prospect. They don’t have a blue-chip left-shot defense prospect, either.
If the Canucks do end up drafting in the late teens or early twenties, they’re probably not in a position to get the center prospect they would want. However, the 2024 NHL Draft is looking like one that is flush with blueliners, so instead Vancouver will add another piece there.
With the 19th pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks select…
So, we don’t (Getty Images) have a picture of Anton Silayev because he plays in the KHL, but trust me, this guy is a tank. At 17 years old, Silayev is already 6-foot-7 and weighs 207 pounds. He’s not as bad of a skater as his size might suggest, and he’s very intelligent on and off the puck.
The Russian is already playing in the KHL as a regular for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, averaging around 17 minutes of ice time per game. Offensively, Silayev has two goals, six assists, and eight points in 25 games, so he’s no slouch in the opposing end either.
Silayev is a player that seems to already be gaining traction in amongst draft circles, but is he better than other elite defense prospects like Artem Levshunov, Sam Dickinson, Henry Mews, and Adam Jiricek? It’s almost a gurantee that at least one team out there will covet Silayev’s combination of size, experience, and tools, so it’s not hard to imagine him going in the top-10 or even the top-five.
If the 17-year-old does indeed move past the Canucks’ range, look out for other defense prospects like Denver’s Zeev Buium and the UNTDP’s Will Skahan, or a center like Muskegon’s Sacha Boisvert. Medicine Hat forward Cayden Lindstrom is another huge prospect that’s also attracting more eyes as of late.
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The Canucks are unpredictable drafters, as usual, but the 2024 NHL Draft might be so good it’ll be impossible for them to whiff on their first-round pick.