The Vancouver Canucks ended day two at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft with three more defencemen in their prospect pool. Surprisingly, none of them are right-handed, which was one of the biggest gaps in their system.
They did, however, get some great value in the sixth and seventh rounds, taking defencemen Jackson Dorrington and Kirill Kudryavtsev.
Dorrington is an "advantage creator"
With the 176th overall pick, the Canucks drafted Dorrington, a 6’2” defenceman out of the USHL, where he tallied 11 points in 41 games. There are signs, however, that he might have more offensive upside than those meager point totals might suggest.
“Weighing flashes versus constants is one of the trickiest parts of evaluating prospects,” says Elite Prospects in his scouting report. “In Jackson Dorrington’s case, the flashes becoming constants could make him one of the better defencemen in the 2022 NHL Draft.”
That’s the exact type of gamble that a team should be taking in the later rounds of the draft, taking a chance on a player that has some serious high-end potential.
In the defensive zone, Dorrington has a strong stick and plays a physical game, able to out-battle opponents along the boards and in front of the net. While Dorrington needs to improve his lateral mobility to keep from getting beat wide, he has strong straight-line skating, which he uses intelligently to cut off rushes in the neutral zone.
Elite Prospects praises his intelligence and transition game, calling him an “advantage creator” with the way he moves the puck up the ice, smartly creating lanes to the inside. Offensively, he creates opportunities for his teammates by activating from the point and playing quick give-and-go passes.
There are a couple issues for Dorrington that he’ll need to address as he heads to Northeastern University next season. Those issues are primarily related to his skating and puckhandling.
“Dorrington is limited by tools, not by his brain,” said Elite Prospects’ Mitch Brown in a scouting report. “His stiff skating posture limits his backwards skating and speed. Ends up lunging at players. He’s constantly fighting the puck, causing him to enter a glide before making the next play.”
With his intelligent approach to the game and flashes of brilliance, Dorrington represents an intriguing developing dilemma for the Canucks’ new player development department. If the Canucks can help his mechanical tools catch up to his brain, Dorrington could be a late-round steal.
Kudryavtsev is "one of the smartest activators in the draft class"
With their final pick of the draft, the Canucks took Kudryavtsev 208th overall. He’s a Russian defenceman who is already in North America, playing for the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL this past season.
Kudryavtsev put up 39 points in 68 games for the Greyhounds, good for fifth among first-time draft-eligible defencemen in the OHL. That is already good value in the seventh round, with several lower-scoring defencemen getting picked before him.
The 5’11” Kudryavtsev is a smart, two-way defenceman with a well-rounded game. He has quite a bit of skill, as demonstrated by this end-to-end goal that he scored in the 2020-21 season in the MHL, Russia’s top junior league.
Kudryavtsev creates offence from the backend by activating from the point and jumping up in the rush, using his strong straight-line speed to create an addition layer on transition chances. When he has the puck on his stick, he’s adept at putting passes right on the tape to put his teammates in good positions to create chances. He also has a strong shot himself.
“One of the smartest activators in the draft class, Kudryavtsev’s upside comes from both supporting the offence and creating it,” reads his Elite Prospects scouting report. “The give-and-go from the point features heavily in his game, often used to create a shot for himself or a set-up a teammate across the slot.”
Defensively, Kudryavtsev uses his strong skating and positioning to limit options, though Elite Prospects notes that he’s often too passive, allowing the play to come to him and reacting instead of aggressively dictating where opposing forwards can go. Still, his strong positioning makes him an asset on special teams.
“Played in all situations,” says his scouting report from Draft Pro Hockey. “Was a valuable piece on the penalty kill with his excellent awareness and defensive positioning.”
The number one issue for Kudryavtsev, and the reason why he was available in the seventh round, is pace. It’s a constant theme in scouting reports that he simply doesn’t play with enough pace, either offensively or defensively.
“Kudryavtsev is slow to react to just about everything,” said Elite Prospects’ Mitch Brown in a scouting report. “He’s late on pivots, his check, pinches, and late to identify passing lanes.”
As the pace of play increases as he gets to higher levels, the concern is that Kudryavstev won’t be able to keep up. It’s not his skating speed but his ability to quickly process the play and make proactive choices — if he doesn’t improve that area of his game, he’ll constantly be playing catch-up.
Still, all seventh-round picks come with some warts. Kudryavtsev has some obvious skill and was a good value pick for the Canucks, with several draft experts regarding him much more highly.
Craig Button ranked him highest at 86th overall, while Elite Prospects had him at 104th. Getting a player projected to go in the third or fourth round with a seventh-round pick is some solid work by the Canucks.