Draft Speculation: The Vancouver Canucks

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On Friday, we looked at the many ways the Oilers could use the fourth overall pick. 

Today is Vancouver’s turn. The Canucks are in a bit more of a dire situation. At the very least, the Oilers have three centres that any team in the league would covet. Based on his usage this year, Markus Granlund will probably walk into the 2016-17 season challenging for the Canucks’ 2C position.

The Canucks are an impending disaster, more so than they were this year. There’s many reasons for this, but for the sake of this article’s length, we won’t go through them (OK fine, quickly: they failed to trade their best defenceman and will probably extend Matt Bartkowski instead, their top line next year are all over 35 and probably untradeable, their goalie is a Six Million Dollar Man without bionic parts, they’re still paying Luongo until 2023, Luca Sbisa, etc). This draft is crucial for the Canucks to remain competitive for the next few years.

The Canucks’ draft strategy

The plan has been laid clear: if the Canucks keep their pick, they are picking best player available.

But who is that best player? The prospect rankings and mock drafts have no real consensus, but Benning has reportedly whittled the list down to two: Olli Juolevi and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Matthew Tkachuk is an honorary mention.

Here’s a good article from Canucks Army elaborating on Benning’s plan for June 24. To sum it up, basically Benning wants to take a forward, though he’s certainly not ruling out a defenceman. Benning is looking for a number one defender in the draft, but he isn’t so sure there is one. The most likely option is to draft a #1 centre to replace Henrik Sedin way down the line, and the obvious candidate is Dubois. Defender supersedes forward, but only if there’s a number one defender available. Based on his rankings of the candidates, he doesn’t see one. Dubois or another forward is the “realistic” option to him.

This is not binding. There’s still plenty of time for Benning and the Canucks to change course (remember that he saw the Canucks as a 100 point playoff team before the season started. Who knows what reality is to him). They could possibly find their #1 defenceman, or they could sour on their #1 centre. Either way, the Canucks are going to put in tons of work to make sure that they have a certain answer.

All that work could be for naught, seeing as our favourite gang of screw-ups, the Edmonton Oilers, pick before the Canucks. They also think highly of Dubois, and are also looking for a defenceman. Let’s explore the potential butterfly effect of what the Oilers could do at number four, and what it means for the Canucks and Flames.

Pick and effect

Scenario #1: Edmonton takes Dubois

Vancouver has a few options here. Even though their coveted number one is off the board, they can still scoop up Tkachuk if they really wanted to. He doesn’t address any real organizational needs at the moment (though they do need everything, they need a #1C and a #1D even more), and is pretty much the next shiny toy. If Benning wants him, Tkachuk’s a Canuck.

The second option is Juolevi, though he’s a bit of a stretch pick at #5. The alternate option is trading down with another team in the top 10. If the Coyotes, Sabres, or Canadiens really want Tkachuk, they could feasibly trade up while the Canucks slide a little bit back and take a risk that Juolevi will still be between picks seven and nine (if not, Chychrun or Sergachev).

The ideal Vancouver move for the Flames would be the Canucks panic-selecting Juolevi, believing he won’t go past the Flames or Coyotes. While Dubois is off the board, Calgary still has the option of Tkachuk or Nylander.

Scenario #2: Edmonton takes Juolevi

Juolevi is also a player the Oilers are taking a look at. If they nab him before the Canucks, they’re left with the choice between Dubois and Tkachuk. As already stated, this is an obvious choice for the Canucks. They’ll stay and take Dubois, and Calgary has a choice between the wingers with good bloodlines.

Scenario #3: Edmonton takes Chychrun/Sergachev/Tkachuk

This is a three-for-one deal here, mostly because it leaves the Canucks with the same strategic plan. If the Oilers go a bit off the board and grab either a defender not from Finland or Tkachuk, Vancouver still has their two prizes available. Again, it will come down to that initial valuation. I’m going to say they likely go with Dubois, but Juolevi is going to be ridiculously tempting for the Canucks.

If the Oilers pass on Dubois, then fifth overall becomes a bit more valuable. Like the first scenario, someone could pay a hefty price to move up to pick the Screaming Eagle. However, seeing as Benning has pinned his future on Dubois as his #1C, any trade package would have to be pretty substantial for the Canucks to give him away (then again, Benning brought in Brandon Sutter to be a #1C. Who knows anymore).

Scenario #4: Edmonton trades away the pick

As discussed in the first draft speculation post, there’s a case for the Oilers also bolting out of the top five. If they can grab an NHLer right now for futures, they will. Any team that moves up will likely do so to take Dubois, wheeling back around to scenario #1. Should the mystery team take Tkachuk, it’s probably scenario #3.

Most Likely Outcome:

Based on the Canucks’ valuation of Dubois, it’s not likely that he gets away from them if the Oilers pass on him. If he’s gone, the Canucks may not have much of a plan besides moving back a few slots to nab Juolevi.

The hope for Calgary is that the Canucks pick a defender at five. Assuming Dubois is off the board, the Flames would probably like to make a decision between Tkachuk and Nylander without it being decided for them. 

  • The Last Big Bear

    @christian tiberi

    this draft is crucial for the Canucks to remain competitive for the next few years.

    The Canucks are not competitive now, so for them to “remain” competitive isn’t even an option.

    – Spoiler Alert –

    Vancouver isn’t going to be competitive for a long, long time.

    • jakethesnail

      Canucks are between a rock and a hard place as long as the Sedins are there. They are good players but the team has to start moving forward like Calgary had to do by trading Iginla, Bouwmeester, etc…

    • Parallex

      Not so long as they continue on in their current mindset. Retooling on the fly and exchanging upside for floor. If they were smart they’d maybe trade down a slot or two and Draft a d-man (I’d probably go as heavy on D as I realistically can over the next two drafts actually) then, when the Sedins are set to be gone, go for the hotshot forwards.

      I mean the Canucks have practically nothing in the pipeline for D… nothing that looks like a top 4 guy at any rate. So yeah, draft those D now so that they’ll be ready to eat big minutes when their next competitive window opens.

      • BurningSensation

        On the money.

        If you are a rebuilding team draft best D you can for three straight years, THEN start drafting the upside forwards.

        Or you waste your young forwards cheapest years waiting for the D to arrive (see: Edm).

  • jakethesnail

    Tre will try hard to move up in the draft to 2nd or 3rd, exchanging picks and giving up 2 prospects and one roster player. Could still be 2 first rounders for the Flames if Dallas comes back and wins their series.

  • Big Ell

    I know this is the Canucks pick thread but the ECHL Flames seem to be doing well. I looked at the roster and have no idea who any of them are apart from Lomberg and Marcotte. Are any of the these guys even considered any kind of prospect. I realize the chances are 1 million to 1 but can someone tell me if we have a chance.

  • Greg

    I’ve come to accept the flames will be getting Nylander. Dubois seems too coveted, Tkachuk’s numbers are too sexy for someone to not pick him top 5, and no one seems sold enough on any of the D to take them top 5.

    Nylander doesn’t overly excite me but seems like he’ll be a decent top 6 winger in the next 2-4 years. Won’t solve any immediate problems, but good to have in the prospect pool, and barring a trade, that’s who we’ll get.

    • freethe flames

      In many ways I agree with you but somehow I just don’t see him fitting the mold of what both BB and BT suggest the team will be. Somehow I think we will either draft off the grid, trade down or take one of the top 3 defenders. I suspect something happens on the draft floor.

      • The Fall

        I tend to agree. Monahan and Bennett are a different type of cornerstone you draft to build a team.

        I’m fine if they drop ten spots as part of a trade that brings a goalie or right hand shot to the team.

      • piscera.infada

        I’ll say two things to this end. First, both Treliving and Burke have stated that contrary to consensus rankings, the Flames organization sees a very real tier at spot 6. They both independently noted after the draft lottery that they didn’t mind falling a spot, because falling two would have been “terrible”. This leads me to believe that unless they get a sweetheart deal, I honestly don’t see them wanting to fall back a tier.

        Secondly, and more to the point of Nylander, I honestly don’t see that being an issue. I know Burke froths at the mouth every now and then about getting bigger, and beefier, wrapped in bacon, on a pretzel bun, or whatever, but their moves the past year show a very real willingness to forgo the typical conception of “size” in favour of skill and fit within the organization. None of this means that Nylander will be “their guy”, however it does mean that we need to get off this tired idea that “Burke’s philosophy won’t allow them to draft a guy like Nylander”–that is patently false.

        I also wouldn’t be holding your breath for Treliving–at this particular moment in the Treliving-era–to go off the board at sixth overall, because “big guy” or “strong guy” or whatever archaic crap anyone can drudge up. We hear this every damn year (Ritchie/Crouse anyone?), and it never happens. So, why is this year going to be any different? Because the Flames “went all in for Matthews or a Fin”? No. They didn’t do that. What the Flames will do? Probably what they’ve been doing the last year, or so under Treliving: exercise pragmatism, and target the correct player for their system. I personally have no qualms with Nylander–in fact, I prefer him to Tkachuk for a number of reasons.

        One final comment. Can we please dispatch this “Nylander is the only player in the top 6 who is not ready to play in the NHL next year” narrative? In all likelihood only the top-3 will play significantly next year, and even further to that point, it’s probably for the best that Puljujarvi gets at least a year of seasoning and adjustment to North America in the AHL.