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Canucks don't pick until 93rd in the draft — What kind of prospect can they get?

Who do the draft experts have ranked 93rd overall in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, where the Vancouver Canucks will likely make their first pick.
Nathan Villeneuve of the Sudbury Wolves is the type of prospect who might be available to the Vancouver Canucks with their first pick of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft is just a few weeks away. 

Normally, this would be a big deal for fans of the Vancouver Canucks, something they would have been anticipating for months as it became clear the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs. This season was a little bit different.

It’s not only that the Canucks made the playoffs and came within one game of the Western Conference Final, but also that they traded away a couple of higher picks along the way to putting their team together.

As of right now, the Vancouver Canucks don’t have first or second-round picks in the draft. The first-round pick was sent to the Calgary Flames as part of the trade for Elias Lindholm, while the second-round pick was the cost of dumping Jason Dickinson’s salary on the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2022.

The Canucks could trade for more picks in the coming weeks but, as it stands, the Canucks first pick of the draft won’t be until 93rd overall in the third round.

After that, the Canucks have a fourth-round pick, two sixth-round picks, and a seventh-round pick.

The challenge of finding a tough prospect without a top pick

It can be tough to find talent picking that late in the draft. Teams typically don’t even have lists long enough to have a prospect ranked 93rd overall.

An NHL team won’t rank every prospect available. Instead, they’ll spend a decent chunk of their pre-draft meetings putting prospects on their Do Not Draft (DND) list — players that have some sort of disqualifying factor that they believe makes them unlikely to make it to the NHL or not a good fit for their organization. 

Instead of ranking hundreds of prospects, a team will typically have a primary list of 40-50 prospects and supplement that main list with positional lists. Those positional lists will have the next best prospects at each position so that if a team exhausts their primary list, they can fill in positions of need in the prospect pool with later picks.

You’ll often hear a general manager or a head scout say that a player drafted in a later round was ranked a lot higher than that round on their list, giving off the impression that they believe they got first or second-round value with a late-round pick. If you keep in mind that team’s have much shorter lists than the public draft rankings, that will help you keep such comments in perspective.

The last time the Canucks didn’t pick until the third round of the draft was in 2020, taking defenceman Joni Jurmo 82nd overall. Jurmo has given little indication that he has an NHL future in the past four years, though he was part of the trade package for Lindholm.

Selected on either side of Jurmo, however, were two NHL players: defenceman Wyatt Kaiser for the Blackhawks and winger Alex Laferriere for the Los Angeles Kings.

So, it’s certainly possible the Canucks could get a prospect with an NHL future with their first pick of the draft. To get a better idea of who that prospect might be, let’s take a look at who the experts in the public sphere have ranked 93rd overall.

While some public rankings have yet to be released or have only released their top-32 for the first round, others have released longer lists that include 93rd overall. Who the Canucks pick won’t necessarily be among these prospects; this is more to just give you an idea the type of player the Canucks might get.

Parker Alcos, D — Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Elite Prospects has Canadian defenceman Parker Alcos ranked 93rd overall, describing him as, “A tall, smooth defenceman with shutdown defensive potential and a sneaky-good puck game.”

The 6’3” Alcos is one of the younger players in the draft, as he doesn’t turn 18 until July 20 and “breezed through big minutes,” according to Elite Prospects. Sounds like a solid prospect but he only had 15 points in 67 games this past season in the WHL for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Understandably, with small point totals like that, Alcos has question marks surrounding his hands and offensive upside.

From a Canucks perspective, Alcos is a local boy from Port Moody, so that would be a nice bonus.

Fyodor Avramov, LW — Kapitan Stupino (MHL)

Dobber Prospects has Russian winger Fyodor Avramov ranked 93rd overall, describing him as “a raw but skilled hulking winger who uses his physicality liberally.”

The 6’3” Avramov has 44 points in 49 games in the MHL, Russia’s junior league, and has a sc bottom-six potential in the NHL. He’s got great hands and a strong physical game, but questions around his skating. 

“He will need a few years and is far from a slam-dunk NHLer, but the raw tools are intriguing,” says Sebastian High from Dobber.

Kasper Pikkarainen, RW — TPS U20 (Liiga U20)

Scott Wheeler at The Athletic has Finnish winger Kasper Pikkarainen ranked 93rd overall. In what is apparently becoming a bit of a theme, Pikkarainen is also 6’3”.

“Pikkarainen is a scrappy, competitive, physical player who fits a fourth-line profile,” says Wheeler. “He’s strong and sturdy. There isn’t a check he won’t finish…He’s a tone setter and pest.”

While 28 points in 34 games in Finland’s under-20 league is pretty modest production and there are question marks about his hockey IQ and offensive upside, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft, not turing 18 until August 7, so he has plenty of room to improve. A hard shot and some playmaking ability suggest he could find a higher ceiling with the right development.

Ondrej Kos, LW - Ilves Jr. (Liiga U20)

Wheeler’s colleague at The Athletic, Corey Pronman, likewise has a winger out of the Finnish junior league, Ondrej Kos, ranked 93rd, though he is originally from Czechia.

The 6’1” Kos was loaned to KOOVEE in the Mestis league, the Finnish second division, and had 5 points in 14 games. He played a bigger role in international play for Czechia.

“He skates and handles the puck like an NHL forward and can create a lot of offense off the rush,” said Pronman. “He's not overly physical, but he gives an honest effort, can PK and create at the net.”

Pronman suggests that Kos projects as a bottom-six winger in the NHL, but admits that his struggles after a “COVID-19 complication” makes him unsure of that projection.

Benjamin Poitras, RW/LW — Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Recruit Scouting has Canadian winger Benjamin Poitras ranked 93rd overall. Poitras is in his second year of eligibility, though he won’t turn 19 until July 18, making him only a little bit older than some of the older players in their first year of eligibility.

Poitras had 20 goals and 53 points in the USHL this past season, good for third on the Gamblers behind drafted prospects Julian Lutz and Jayson Shaugabay. He’s committed to Northeastern University in the NCAA for next season. 

“He attacks off the boards and works with his teammates well, though he doesn’t inspire much drive through the neutral zone on his own,” says Gabriel Foley from Recruit Scouting. “I’m not sure how close Poitras is to his ceiling but he’ll carve out a fine pro role if he can continue adding to the reliable, entry-support role he developed this year.”

Timur Kol, D — Omskie Krylia (VHL)

FloHockey has Russian defenceman Timur Kol ranked 93rd. Like some other prospects in this range, Kol is 6’3” and quite young: he doesn’t turn 18 until August 23.

Kol played at basically every level in Russia he was eligible for, including a couple of games in the KHL. He spent the longest time in the VHL, Russia’s second-tier professional league, playing against men. He had 8 points in 23 games, leading all first-time draft-eligible defencemen in scoring.

Honestly, sticking in the VHL for 23 games as a defenceman is pretty impressive all on its own. Perhaps that’s because of his strong defensive game, as Elite Prospects describes him as “boring, but effective.” Still, there’s some offensive upside thanks to his shot.

“Some of his late-season games where he was playing a bigger role for Omsk’s U20 team showed his quality as a trigger man from the point,” says FloHockey. “He shoots an awful lot and has a higher-end shot from the back end.”

Ryerson Leenders, G — Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

FC Hockey has Canadian goaltender Ryerson Leenders ranked 93rd overall but it should be noted that most other rankings have him higher, suggesting he could go in the second round. As one of the top-ranked goaltenders, it seems likely that a team looking for future help in net will take Leenders much earlier than 93rd.

“Plays a quiet, controlled game and forces rebounds into smart areas when he’s locked in,” said Elite Prospects. “Solid play-reading ability bodes well for success at the next level.”

Eemil Vinni, G — JoKP (Mestis)

Tankathon has Finnish goaltender Eemil Vinni ranked 93rd overall. It’s a similar story as Leenders: other rankings suspect he’ll go much higher in the draft as one of the best goaltenders available.

“Very active and assertive in the crease, but not overly aggressive,” says Elite Prospects. “He controls pucks with his hands extremely well, and his elite edgework completes the package.”

Nathan Villeneuve, C — Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

The Consolidated Ranking from Elite Prospects, which combined multiple different prospect rankings into one list, has Canadian centre Nathan Villeneuve ranked 93rd overall

The 6’)’ forward had 50 points in 56 games for the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL but he was stuck in a third-line role behind a talented top-six group. A larger role could lead to a breakout year next season. More importantly, he plays a pro-style game with the way he uses his teammates to create openings.

“Villeneuve’s a feisty, high-pace attacker with a lockdown defensive game,” says Elite Prospects. “When he’s not throwing hits and winning battles, he’s eliminating off-puck threats and pickpocketing the puck carrier. When the puck arrives on his stick, he instantly takes the middle or starts a give-and-go to attack the zone with speed.”

Villeneuve might not have the creativity to become a top-six forward in the NHL but he’s got the right toolset to be an impactful bottom-six centre.