The Canucks have drafted extremely well over the last couple years. No, I’m not talking about drafting future superstars or quality NHL depth; I’m talking about drafting players with great names.
At the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Canucks selected one of the best names available in the fourth round when they picked defenceman Jack Rathbone. In 2018, they grabbed another defenceman with one of the best names in the draft when they got Jett Woo in the second round. That’s two elite names in back-to-back drafts.
Add in some solid depth names like Petrus Palmu and Artem Manukyan, and the Canucks have clearly made out like bandits at the draft, name-wise.
Fans want to cheer for great players, but it’s so much more fun to cheer for those players when they also have great names. A great name can also elevate a lesser player into a fan favourite. Think of great hockey names of the past and present: Hakan Loob, Dit Clapper, Sprague Cleghorn, Miroslav Satan, Grant Clitsome, Ron Tugnutt, Lonny Bohonos, Zarley Zalapski, Jordin Tootoo, Rob Klinkhammer, Cal Clutterbuck, Greg McKegg, or Nino Niederreiter. If you can draft a player with the potential to rival those great hockey names, you have to do it.
Forget drafting the “best player available.” The Canucks should draft the best name available.
So, let’s take a look at the best names available in the 2019 draft. First, we have to acknowledge that two of the best names in this year’s draft are right at the very top: Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes.
Kaapo Kakko is clearly a top-tier name. It combines the alliteration of the starting “K” with the assonance of the inner “A” and the rhyme of the “O” at the end. It’s practically poetry. Kaapo Kakko is simply delightful to say and I can imagine play-by-play announcers will go out of their way to say his full name at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, if you say Jack Hughes with a french accent while pointing emphatically, it sounds like “J’accuse!” which is great fun.
I’m going to highlight some lesser-known names in this list, but I want to make it clear that Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes aren’t just the cream of the crop when it comes to skill in this draft class, but also in terms of name quality.
20 | Elias Peterson
Wait, hang on, what?
19 | Dustin Wolf
I hate it when my wolf gets dusty.
Wolf is ranked 5th among goaltenders by Hockey Prospect, 12th among North American goaltenders by Central Scouting, and 82nd overall by Future Considerations. He had a fantastic .936 save percentage this past season for the Everett Silvertips and played three games for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Hockey Prospect calls him “one of the best puck-tracking goalies available in this class.”
But he’s on this list because his first name sounds like a verb and his last name is Wolf, and that’s great.
18 | Nino Kinder
Old-school hockey men would prefer Nino Meaner.
17 | Alexandros Aslanidis
That is a masterpiece of a name.
Alexandros means “defender of the people” and Aslanidis comes from the Turkish word for “lion,” which any Chronicles of Narnia fan could have intuited. Basically, his name means Lion Defender, and that’s rad.
Aslanidis is a 6’5” goaltender, who had a very good Prep school season and is heading to Providence College in the NCAA next season. Scouting reports suggest he needs a lot of coaching, but 6’5” covers a lot of net and Alexandros Aslanidis is a lot of name.
16 | Noah Laaouan
The world record for most consecutive vowels in an english word is six: “euouae ” It’s apparently a medieval musical term. The Hawaiian word “hooiaioia,” which translates to “certified,” has eight consecutive vowels. If you include proper nouns, the Uru-Eu-Uau-Uau, an indigenous people group in Brazil, takes the cake with a whopping nine consecutive vowels.
Noah Laaouan doesn’t quite reach those record-breaking heights, but he still has five consecutive vowels in his name, which is pretty impressive. The QMJHL defenceman had 23 points in 69 games last season and was on Central Scouting’s watch list heading into the season, even if he didn’t make their final rankings.
15 | Austen Swankler
Swankler is one of the youngest players in the draft, with an August 21st birthday. Keep that in mind when you consider his USHL numbers: 45 points in 59 games. That’s not bad and he’s heading to a solid program at the University of Michigan next season. That’s more points than Tyler Madden and Adam Gaudette had in their draft years.
I was hoping his scouting report would take about his luxurious and expensive play, as befitting his name. Alas, Hockey Prospect scout Dusten Braaksma just describes him as “a pain in the ass to play against.”
14 | Alex Swetlikoff
There’s a reason people drink sports drinks with electrolytes when they engage in heavy athletic activity like hockey. You lose a lot of electrolytes when you engage in strenuous exercise.
Alex Swetlikoff has the right idea. Why not recover the electrolytes that you lose through your sweat by going straight to the source? Just lick that sweat off and recover that salt directly.
Swetlikoff had 19 points in 27 BCHL games before heading to the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and tallying 14 points in 32 games. The 6’2” centre is ranked 273rd by Future Considerations and 175th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
13 | Hunter Skinner
The one problem with Hunter Skinner is that he’s an incomplete player. After you hunt and skin, you also need to butcher, process, and cook, or you’ll never get a meal on the table.
Skinner’s a 6’3” defenceman out of the USHL, who is heading to Western Michigan University in the NCAA. He’s ranked 120th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
12 | Jonny Lambos
When I hear the name Jonny Lambos, I definitely picture a guy wearing sunglasses indoors while popping the collar of his polo shirt, who takes any opportunity he can to bring up that he owns more than one Lamborghini (both of them paid for by his corporate lawyer father). “That’s why they call me Jonny Lambos,” he says with a self-satisfied smirk while running his hand through his frosted tips.
In reality, Lambos is from Winnipeg and is probably perfectly nice. He plays defence for the Brandon Wheat Kings and is probably not going to get drafted, what with his 5’10” stature and 2 points in 43 games.
He’s literally hard AF.
That’s it. That’s the joke.
10 | Tubbe Hellstrom
Daimon Hellstrom is a character in Marvel Comics, also known as the Son of Satan and Hellstorm. His sister is named Satana. It’s very, very on the nose.
I like to think that Daimon and Satana had a little half-brother, who wasn’t sired by the literal Satan, and his name was Tubbe. They affectionately call him Tubs.
In reality, Tubbe Hellstrom is a goaltender — lots of goaltenders in this list — playing in Finnish junior leagues. He’s not going to get drafted, but he does have a fantastic name.
9 | Xavier Cannon
With a name like “Cannon,” you would expect this kid to have a bomb of a slap shot. Alas, he’s a goaltender, not a defenceman, so no sounding like a captain of a space ship in some science fiction universe, yelling, “Ready the Xavier Cannon!” whenever he gets the puck at the point.
Cannon’s a 6’3” goaltender that spent his draft year in major midget, though he is a prospect of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. I’m feeling optimistic about his chances, though admittedly that’s only because I like his name.
8 | Adrien Vazzaz
Look, no one’s going to draft a 5’8” goaltender from France, but he’s still making the list, because look at that last name! Now that’s a name with some pizzazz.
7 | Nils Höglander
How does one go about landing a hog? Does Nils Hoglander go off jumps with a Harley Davidson and land with incredible panache?
Okay, that’s a stretch. It’s more likely that the origin of his name comes from the same place as the phrase “when pigs fly.” After all, if pigs are flying, someone has to land them.
Hoglander is a potential first-round pick, with rankings ranging from 18th overall to 41st. He played 50 games in the SHL last season, tallying 14 points. His 5’9” stature might scare off some teams, but it shouldn’t. Corey Pronman suggests Hoglander has “the best hands in the draft,” while Ryan Biech at NextGen Hockey calls him “a little tornado on the ice.”
And what happens when a tornado lifts a hog up in the air? Someone’s got to bring the thing back down again. Call on Nils Hoglander.
I really, really, really hope his last name is pronounced “Rain Clouds,” because if it isn’t, I have no clue where to even start. But if it is, that’s an awesome name. As soon as he takes the ice, you can say “Rain Clouds rolling in...looks like a storm’s a-brewin’.”
The 6’3” Rheyneuclaudes put up some decent numbers in starts split across the various Swedish junior leagues, including a solid .910 save percentage in the U20 SuperElit league. Future Considerations even has him ranked on their list, albeit at 205th overall, noting, “He reads the play very well and has a habit of making saves look easy due to his strong positional play.”
They don’t, unfortunately, mention his awesome name.
5 | Boston Bilous
Alliteration is always fantastic, particularly with a great last name like Bilous. It’s just got a great sound to it. Say it out loud: Boston Bilous. Really punch out those “B” sounds. It’s great.
It’s also great because it looks like “Bilious,” which means “associated with vomiting” or “bad-tempered.” Quite frankly, those are words that come to mind when I think of Boston, so it works really well.
Bilous is a WHL goaltender that got traded from the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Prince Albert Raiders. His numbers don’t look great, but he has struggled with injuries. He was on Central Scouting’s radar heading earlier in the season, but is unlikely to get drafted at this point. Keep an eye on him in the future, however.
This name is so amazing that it sounds like part of a Key and Peele sketch. Their classic East/West Bowl sketch is essentially just a series of increasingly absurd names, but it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
Linus Storckovius fits right in.
Unfortunately, he’s not likely to fit in at the draft: he’s a 5’9” goaltender, currently playing junior hockey in Sweden.
Okay, who gave the wolf a gun?
Just imagine the sheer chutzpah you need in order to name your child “Gunnarwolfe.” According to Fontaine, it was his mother’s idea.
“My mom came up with it. She originally just wanted to call me Wolf. Somehow Gunnar got in the mix and it turned out to be Gunnarwolfe,” he said. Was his mom a fan of D2: The Mighty Ducks? After all, it’s a combination of Team Iceland’s Wolf Stansson and Gunnar Stahl.
His name led to one particularly...interesting play call when he scored an overtime winner to send the Chicago Steel to the USHL’s Clark Cup Final.
Add in a decent amount of skill — he had 20 goals and 43 points in the USHL last season — and I badly want to see him drafted. I just want to hear the name “Gunnarwolfe Fontaine” announced in the sixth or seventh round, just to liven things up a little.
Gunnarwolfe Fontaine has committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the NCAA next season, so even if he doesn’t get drafted, he’ll have more chances to catch the eyes of scouts over the next few years.
2 | Jakin Smallwood
No. No! That can’t be real. Oh man, that poor kid. I can’t imagine the flak he must have gotten from classmates in school when they discovered his name was actually Jakin Smallwood.
Of course, I’m not the first to notice this amazing name. The Steve Dangle Podcast has embraced Smallwood after initially poking fun at his name and then finding out he actually heard the podcast. He ended up calling in to the show and making Steve Dangle feel terrible, which is a big plus.
Apparently it’s pronounced with a long “A,” like “Jake,” but let’s face it, that’s not going to stop a pack of middle-school kids from pronouncing it the way it looks. As someone whose last name could (and frequently was) turned into a homophobic slur by switching out the “W” for an “F,” I empathize with him.
That’s why this is a list of “best names” and not “funny names.” Own that name, Jakin Smallwood. Own it.
Smallwood is a decent player: he had 30 points in 67 games for the Kootenay ICE in his first season in the WHL. While he might not get drafted this year, he could still have an NHL future.
1 | Matti Fingerroos
If you don’t love this name, we can’t be friends.
Let’s be honest, Matti Fingerroos isn’t getting drafted. He’s yet another goaltender on this list, and he’s currently toiling as a backup in the Finnish junior leagues, but I have to tell you, I’m pulling for the kid.
I like to believe that Fingerroos are a variation on Dunkaroos, that classic 90’s snack that had little cookies you could dunk into icing. Except Fingerroos don’t have any cookies: they’re just packs of icing that you scoop out with your finger.
- Bobby Brink
- Jackson Jutting
- Elan Bar-Lev-Wise
- Maximilian Bogdanovich
- Fabjon Kuqi
- Ethan Martini
- Cosmo Sperduto
- Drew Wawrow
- Brecon Wood
- Cooper Fensterstock
- Kjell Kjemhus