While Vancouver Canucks fans may be disappointed with the team’s 7th place finish in the 2018 NHL Draft Lottery, there’s no denying the fact that the team will get a very good prospect later this month at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Canucks fans dreaming of landing #1 ranked prospect Rasmus Dahlin though will be disappointed as the Swedish defenseman is expected to go to the Buffalo Sabres with the first pick in the draft. The good news is that the Canucks have a very good shot at landing another top defensive prospect, as general manager Jim Benning seems to have his sights set on landing a blue liner with his top pick.
In a one on one interview with NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger, Benning admitted that, while his plan is to take the best player available at 7th overall, he “would like, in a perfect world, if the best player is a defenseman at No. 7.”
As Zeisberger’s colleague Mike Morreale points out, this likely means the Canucks are leaning toward either Memorial Cup winning defenseman Noah Dobson of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan or Evan Bouchard, former defensive partner of Canucks prospect Olli Juolevi from the London Knights. Quinn Hughes from the University of Michigan could also be available should the Canucks choose to prioritize the blue line.
“We want to take the best player. We would like, in a perfect world, if the best player is a defenseman at No. 7. We have a lot of depth at forward. We’ve drafted a lot of forwards the last few years. We feel like we have some real good forwards coming. In a perfect world, if the best player was a defenseman it would be the perfect scenario.”
Interesting. Regardless of who they select though, it’s unlikely that the youngster cracks the Canucks line-up for 2018-19. But what about top prospect Elias Petterson? The team’s 5th overall selection from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft recently won top honours in the SHL as league MVP and scoring champion… will he be on the Canucks next season or will he need some AHL seasoning?
“Oh yeah. I think given the retirement of the Sedins we need skill in our lineup. He had, quite frankly, an outstanding year this year, leading the Swedish Elite League in scoring in the regular season as a 19-year-old (56 points in 44 games), being named MVP during the regular season, leading playoff scoring (19 points in 13 games), being named MVP of the playoffs. We’ve never heard of that before. There’s been some great Swedish players, the (Peter) Forsbergs, the Sedins, that have come through that through the years that haven’t been able to accomplish that. I don’t want to put too much pressure on Elias but we feel real strong about his ability to make plays and add skill to our team. A lot will be determined when he comes to training camp. We don’t want to put the player into a position he’s not ready for, but his accomplishments this year, like at the World Championships (with Sweden), where he didn’t look out of place, we just feel he can come in and prove like Boeser did last year at training camp that he belongs and can contribute next year.”
One thing’s for sure, the Canucks may not contend for a Stanley Cup next season, but at least they’re finally embracing the rebuild mentality. With Juolevi and 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Gaudette both expected to crack the roster as well there will be no shortage of youth in the Canucks lineup in 2018-19.