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Who would Trevor Linden and the Canucks have taken if they won the draft lottery?

Trevor Linden made an extended appearance on TSN 1040 on Thursday, answering questions from Matt Sekeres and Blake Price, along with Canucks fans from around the province.
Cale Makar

Trevor Linden made an extended appearance on TSN 1040 on Thursday, answering questions from Matt Sekeres and Blake Price, along with Canucks fans from around the province. Most of his appearance was typically non-descript — Linden has plenty of experience answering questions without giving much away — but one answer caught fans’ attention.

Linden mentioned that he gave his newborn son the middle name of “Matthias” after his favourite former teammate, Matthias Ohlund.

Wait, that’s not the attention-grabbing moment. It wasn’t even the moment when he hinted that the Canucks are looking at signing some PTOs, potentially even Thomas Vanek. Instead, it came when he was asked about which player the Canucks would have picked if they won the draft lottery: Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick?

Linden initially refused to answer the question, but when pressed he said, “Well, I’ll say this, how about this? Neither.”

Blake Price immediately interpreted this as Linden suggesting the Canucks would picking Cale Makar, but Linden quickly said, “I didn’t say that” and added an impish, “Just to throw a twist in there.”

The moment comes in the 43rd minute of the podcast of the show if you want to hear it for yourself.

So, if not Hischier or Patrick, who would the Canucks have picked? Here are a few options:

Cale Makar

There’s a reason Price jumped to Makar: of the two defencemen picked between Hischier/Patrick and the Canucks’ selection of Elias Pettersson, Makar is the one with game-breaking potential who was compared to Erik Karlsson, arguably the best player in the NHL.

If the Canucks were convinced that Makar is the next Karlsson, it would make perfect sense to select him ahead of Hischier or Patrick. That would be one heck of a gamble, considering he has only played against Junior A-level competition.

Miro Heiskanen

Heiskanen went third overall in the draft, ahead of Makar. While he doesn’t have a Karlsson-like profile, he is a much safer pick, having already put together an outstanding season against men in the top Finnish league at the age of 17. He played over 20 minutes per game, put up 5 goals and 10 points, and put up great puck possession statistics.

In addition, Heiskanen dominated at the World Under-18 tournament, putting up 12 points in 7 games. He also has played alongside Olli Juolevi at the 2017 World Juniors: would the possibility of having a ready-made top pairing for the future been enough for the Canucks to rank him ahead of Hischier and Patrick?

Elias Pettersson

There’s a chance that Pettersson was legitimately number one on the Canucks draft board and they would have picked him no matter the results of the draft lottery. He does have tremendous potential as a future franchise player, but ranking him ahead of Hischier and Patrick seems a little bit outlandish, considering some already saw him as a reach at fifth overall.

Nico Hischier/Nolan Patrick

There’s a chance that Linden was just flat-out lying. He initially refused to answer the question, possibly because speaking about wanting a player under contract to another team might be construed as tampering. He only said “neither” when he was pressed and did it “just to throw a twist in there.” Maybe he was lying just for the sake of good radio and to drum up a little controversy.

Or, perhaps he wanted to avoid saying that the Canucks would have preferred another player over Pettersson. Instead, we can all pretend that the Canucks wanted Pettersson more than any other player in the 2017 draft.


It’s entirely possible that if the Canucks had won the draft lottery, they wouldn’t have kept it. Perhaps they had eyes on Makar or Pettersson and would have tried to acquire more assets in a trade while still selecting the player they wanted.

This would have been a pretty savvy move: Hischier and Patrick are blue chip prospects and a step above the rest of the 2017 draft, but they’re not at the level of recent first overall picks like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid. Trading down would have been a pretty good move.

Vincent Adultman

How this player managed to slip through the draft without being selected is baffling, but one reason might be that he’s possibly just three kids in a trenchcoat. Still, it would have been a bold move to forego selecting Hischier or Patrick in favour of the fresh-faced (suspiciously fresh-faced, if we’re honest) Adultman.

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