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.