By Andrew Chernoff
June 24, 2017
The Vancouver Canucks completed the 2017 NHL draft on a positive note, continuing to put pieces in place for the future as they look forward to once again at competing in the post season.
The Canucks added 8 players to the organization: Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Michael DiPietro, Jack Rathbone, Kristoffer Gunnarsson, Petrus Palmo, and Matt Brassard.
With their first selection on Friday night, Vancouver picked centre Elias Pettersson from Timra in Sweden’s second division, collecting 41 points (19-22-41) in 43 games, fifth overall pick.
According to eliteprospects.com, he is
A crafty and agile two-way forward. Pettersson is consistently productive in all three zones. As he gets stronger, he’ll become even more physical and aggressive than he is now, and his creativity could definitely elevate his game to dominant levels. He can be described as a tenacious, jack-of-all-trades kind of player; he is well versed in all the important aspects of his own game. His speed and top-end acceleration continue to improve game by game, and his hard-nosedness shows through in his dogged pursuit of puck control. Elias Pettersson is a complete hockey player with exceptional hockey sense who brings intellect and youthful exuberance to a game that feeds on his kind of exciting athleticism. [EP 2017]
Next, Kelowna Rockets left winger Kole Lind of the Western Hockey League was selected by Vancouver with their second pick, 33rd oveerall.
According to Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer,
His business-like game on the ice has earned Kole Lind the nod as NHL Central Scouting’s 23rd-ranked North American Skater.
An up-and-down winger, Lind doesn’t have the same “flash” as other prospects, per The Hockey News but there is skill there as well.
Lind is coming off a career year in the WHL, scoring 30 goals and totaling 87 points in 70 games. In the playoffs, Lind recorded six goals and six assists in 17 games.
“He’s one of those guys you look at the scoresheet and he had a little more of an impact on the game than you thought he did,” a scout said, per The Hockey News.
Lind’s impact on the ice can come in a number of ways. International Scouting Services calls the athlete’s vision and skill-set “high-end” and calls him one of the best pure passers in the 2017 draft class.
According to NHL Scouting,
VERY GOOD OFFENSIVE PLAYER WITH GAME-BREAKING ABILITY – STRONG SKATER WITH AN EXTRA GEAR TO QUICKLY PULL AWAY ON THE PLAY – NHL SHOT WITH A QUICK RELEASE – POWER-PLAY SPECIALIST – PRECISE PASSER WITH EXCELLENT VISION AND TIMING TO GENERATE SCORING CHANCES. http://www.nhl.com
Lind was well thought of as the following rankings indicate:
Third of seven picks by Vancouver, by way of the Columbus Blue Jackets, 55th overall, Jonah Gadjovich, from the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League.
Ben Kerr, of http://lastwordonsports.com, in his scouting report on Gadjovich, wrote:
A late 1998 birthday, Jonah Gadjovich had a real breakout in his third year in the OHL. He went from 14 goals and 24 points in 2015-16 to 46 goals and 74 points this year, despite playing in six fewer games. His breakout year, we part of the reason that the Attack ended up being one of the best teams in the OHL, and going to the Western Conference finals. Gadjovich finished the playoffs with four goals and three assists in 17 games.
His 46 goals was the most amongst draft eligible OHL players. After a slow start, Gadjovich had 39 goals in the last 40 games of the season, and the Attack were the hottest team in the league over that stretch. The connection between Nick Suzuki and Gadjovich was impressive.
A feisty two-way winger that uses his size and speed to open up space for himself and teammates. Understands both sides of the puck well, and skates hard up and down the ice. Positionally sound and reads plays well. While not always the fastest player on the ice, his skating ability is noteworthy and he can catch the opposition off-guard on the rush. Not afraid to get into the mix, and will get under the skin of opponents. Definitely a team-first player that will find a way to make an impact for his line with each shift. (Curtis Joe, EP 2017)
Goaltender Michael DiPietro of the 2017 Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, became the fourth pick for the Canucks, 64th overall.
The pick continued the Canucks draft history of drafting good young goalies with the potential of becoming strong NHL caliber goaltenders.
He was ranked 4th best prospect among North American goaltenders, and was named the Memorial Cup Most Outstanding goaltender and first team All-Star, in backstopping the Spitfires to their Memorial Cup victory.
Tom Dorsa, of https://blackoutdallas.com, recently wrote of the Canucks pick:
DiPietro’s main attribute for success is his intensity and athleticism. At 6’0″, DiPietro is comparatively undersized as an NHL-caliber goaltender, but his quickness with his feet and his relentless positioning skills put him amongst the most interesting Draft choices.
DiPietro has often exemplified the ability to steal games, which is remarkably valuable in today’s NHL. The elite goaltenders in pro hockey are sometimes the best all-around players on the ice, and DiPietro has that ceiling.
DiPietro’s biggest quality is his lateral movement; the 18-year-old moves side to side with the best of them and makes crucial saves on cross-ice passes due to such a trait. His athleticism allows him to get a good push off the ice or the posts and make the stop on the other end of the crease.
Dipietro was ranked fairly high and Vancouver is undoubtedly hoping they got one of the steals of the 2017 draft:
Jack Rathbone, of Dexter High School in Michigan, an 18 year old defenseman, was Vancouver’s 5th pick, 95th overall.
http://thehockeywriters.com wrote of Rathbone:
Known for his swift skating style, Rathbone makes up for a lack of size with speed and defensive grit. He passes with precision and consistently pushes teammates in transition. Rathbone utilizes his mobility to elude fore-checkers and create offensive chances for himself and teammates. His patience for allowing plays to develop underscores his advanced hockey IQ.
“Undersized defender with good vision, high-end skating ability and grit. Very elusive and uses his shiftiness to move pucks out of his zone and to the attack, which he will hop in on. His low center of gravity give him the ability to cannonball opponents and knock them off the puck.” – Bill Placzek, www.draftsite.com
Rankings for Rathbone for the 2017 draft:
Lack of size was not a deterrent to Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton, and Vancouver would love to have Rathbone make their lineup in a few years as Hutton eventually did.
Sixth pick, 135th overall, went to Kristoffer Gunnarsson of Sweden, the Canucks second of three defensemen picked in the 2017 draft by Vancouver.
During today’s draft, Vancouver acquired the 135th and 181st pick from Chicago, with the Canucks using the 135th pick to select 20 year old defenseman Kristoffer Gunnarsson from IK Oskarshamn in the Allsvenskan.
Gunnarsson will play with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elite League next season.
Scouting report from Eliteprospects notes of Gunnarsson,
Gunnarsson is a defenseman who plays a safe, defensive-minded game. Owns decent mobility and skating ability. Likes to hit and punish opponents physically. Doesn’t contribute much offensively.
– Erik K. Piri, EP (2017)
181st overall, and 7th pick of Vancouver, was 19 year old left winger Petrus Palmu, teammate of 2nd round draft pick Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League.
In 2016-17, Palmu had 40 goals and 98 points in 62 games, with 13 goals and 21 points in 17 playoff games.
The scouting report on Palmu from Eliteprospects:
The only thing stopping Palmu from being a sure fire NHL draft pick is his underwhelming size. AT 5’6, 165 pounds, Palmu gets by on speed, smarts, offensive flash and capable defensive play. He was one of Owen Sounds most impressive players this season and has he continues to progress and get stronger, he could be a force in the OHL. (Tyler Parchem, EP 2015)
It remains to be seen if the Canucks faith in Palmu will be rewarded in future with a spot in the Canucks lineup or just a footnote in the history of the organization.
Last but not least, 7th round pick, 188th overall, and the 8th and final pick of Vancouver in the 2017 draft, was Matt Brassard, defenseman, from the Oshawa Generals.
The 18 year old, right handed defenseman, was ranked 137th by NHL Central Scouting, and had 32 points (12 goals and 20 assists) in 62 games in the Ontario Hockey League split between the Barrie Colts and Oshawa last season.
According to http://ohlprospects.blogspot.ca:
Brassard is a really interesting prospect…He’s got a lot of things going for him. First is size and aggressiveness at 6’2, 200lbs. Second is overall mobility, which is pretty decent. Third is a big point shot. Brassard finished 5th in the OHL among shots by defenseman with 203…Brassard is still pretty raw. He’s still learning as a defensive player, and I’m not sure he’s a natural offensive blueliner (in terms of vision and playmaking ability).
According to Canucks Mobile, Brassard could be the steal of the 2017 NHL draft for Vancouver, offering the following scouting report:
Is not scared to get ‘greasy’; plays a safe two-way game that allows him to get points; a big bodied player; has decent skating and mobility.
Stay tuned for more articles as the summer progresses for the Vancouver Canucks.