The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is two months away, but with the results of the draft lottery already in, the Canucks know exactly where they’ll be picking: 10th overall.
At least, that’s where they’ll pick if they don’t make a big splash with the draft hosted in Vancouver and attempt to trade up to first or second overall to take Jack Hughes. I’ve asked before what fans would be willing to trade for a chance to draft Quinn’s brother and answers ranged from 2019 and 2020 first-round picks plus a top prospect to packages centred around Bo Horvat or Brock Boeser. According to league sources contacted by Jason Botchford of The Athletic, those packages aren’t likely to get the job done. It will likely take a monster deal if the Canucks want to move up that much in the draft that includes taking back multiple players on bad contracts.
So, let’s assume for the moment that the Canucks stay at tenth overall. The Canucks should be able to get a very talented prospect at tenth, even if they won’t have the pick of the litter like they would if they were picking higher up in the draft.
This will be the sixth time in the last seven drafts that the Canucks have picked in the top-10 at the draft and they can’t afford to make a mistake. They have an opportunity to supplement their top six with a scoring winger, provide a significant upgrade on their blue line, or give themselves more options at centre that allow them to move one of their centres to the wing.
To get an overview of who could be available to the Canucks at tenth overall, let’s look at who the draft experts have ranked at tenth. From the rankings I looked at, 11 different players came in at tenth overall, showing the wide range of opinions available.
While we should keep in mind that some of these outlets have yet to post their final rankings and will be doing so in the coming weeks, this gives us a pretty good idea of the prospects the Canucks could potentially be picking. As the draft approaches, I’ll be taking a closer look at these players and more to see who makes the most sense for the Canucks to pick.
Trevor Zegras | Centre/Wing
Trevor Zegras racked up points with the US National Team Development Program this year, finishing third on the U18 team with 26 goals and 78 points in 55 games. He’s a versatile two-way forward that can play any of the three forward positions, and combines great speed and playmaking ability.
The question with Zegras is whether he’s more of a product of Jack Hughes, who he played with for the bulk of the season, or if he can continue to produce on his own. He's got plenty of skill and is particularly noticeable on the power play. It's hard to argue with his production.
Cole Caufield | Right Wing
Like Zegras, Cole Caufield played with Jack Hughes with the US National Team Development Program. Unlike Zegras, Caufield is an elite goal-scorer rather than a playmaker and has been described by some as the best goal-scorer in this draft. His numbers back that up: he had a whopping 58 goals in 57 games with the U18 team and 29 goals in 28 games in the USHL.
Caufield actually set a record for all-time goals in the USNTDP, outscoring the likes of Auston Matthews, Phil Kessel, Clayton Keller and Jack Eichel. With that kind of performance, why isn’t Caufield in consideration to be a top-three pick?
Well, he’s tiny. At 5’7” — reportedly more like 5’6.75” — Caufield’s small stature is hard to ignore. He’s getting compared to Alex DeBrincat, who is also 5’7” and scored 41 goals this season for the Chicago Blackhawks, but there are also plenty of small players that ripped up the Junior ranks that were never able to make the NHL.
Thomas Harley | Defence
The Canucks are unlikely to get the top-ranked defenceman in this draft, the Vancouver Giants’ Bowen Byram, but there are some other talented defenceman that could make sense at tenth overall. Thomas Harley is one of them, a smooth-skating, 6’3” two-way defenceman that is also one of the youngest players in the draft.
Harley’s 58 points in 68 games led all draft-eligible OHL defencemen and was ninth among all OHL defencemen, but he’s no slouch defensively, as he uses his skating to both jump up in the rush and to close down on opponents. His combination of size, skating, and potential makes him an attractive prospect, though he’s still quite raw. Cosentino describes him as a “wild pony.”
Peyton Krebs | Left Wing/Centre
Peyton Krebs is a hard-working, offensively-skilled, defensively-determined forward. He does a little bit of everything, paying just as much attention to the details on the defensive end as he does to the offensive side of his game. He’s got speed, skill, hockey sense, and grit to spare.
The issue for Krebs is that he was on a pretty terrible Kootenay Ice team that didn’t showcase his playmaking ability. As a result, his numbers weren’t as strong as fellow draft-eligible WHLers like Dylan Cozens, Brayden Tracey, and Kirby Dach. The flipside of that is Krebs got plenty of ice time and opportunity as the best player on the Ice.
Matthew Boldy | Left Wing
Matthew Boldy has been a popular prospect in the Vancouver market since the Canucks got bumped down to tenth overall in the draft lottery, and for good reason. He fits a lot of the Canucks’ needs as an elite scoring winger. He’s got speed, power, skill, and creativity to spare.
Boldy can seemingly score from any angle with his accurate and heavy shot, but also possesses a mature, well-rounded game. He can make plays for his linemates (which rarely included Jack Hughes this season) and uses his size effectively in all three zones. He has the potential to be a top-six winger that plays on both sides of special teams.
Cam York | Defence
Cam York has rocketed up a lot of draft rankings by racking up points with the US National Team Development Program. He had 10 goals and 54 points in 56 games with the U18 team and 33 points in 28 games in the USHL. That’s excellent production and he’ll get a chance to continue putting up points with the University of Michigan next year.
There are some questions about whether he’ll be able to put up points the same way in the NHL and the level of talent on the USNTDP this season might make you wonder how much his numbers have been elevated by his teammates.
York is an excellent skater and uses that ability at both ends of the ice. Scouts praise his hockey sense and decision-making, but he does have some weaknesses. Offensively, his shot is lacking, while he struggles in one-on-one battles defensively thanks to his lack of size.
Alex Turcotte | Centre
Here’s a fun fact: Alex Turcotte had a higher point-per-game average than Jack Hughes in the USHL this season. Another standout from the US National Team Development Program, Turcotte was first in points per game in the USHL and second behind Hughes for the U18 team.
Turcotte is extremely talented and it’s entirely likely that he’s off the board by the time the Canucks pick. He’s a complete player, capable of scoring and setting up goals offensively while also shutting down opponents defensively. He looks like he could be a first-line centre, but even if he doesn’t reach that ceiling, he should still be a strong two-way second-line centre.
The only issue with Turcotte is that he was injured for part of the year, so has a smaller sample size than some of his teammates. His dominance from the USNTDP’s second line should still see him picked in the top-10.
Analytics-influenced prospect expert Will Scouch also had Turcotte 10th overall back in January.
Philip Broberg | Defence
Philip Broberg could be a divisive player in the rankings this year. He’s ranked as high as fifth overall in some rankings, while others — including ISS — see him ranked in the back half of the draft. Jeremy Davis from Canucks Army and JD Burke of Elite Prospects don’t even have him in the first round of his mid-season rankings.
That seems to be because Broberg has tantalizing physical attributes — a 6’3” frame and blazing speed — but seems to lack the hockey IQ to make best use of those attributes. He had a standout performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, but produced just nine points in 41 games in the Allsvenskan.
One scout described Broberg as “A Swedish defenceman version of Jake Virtanen.” Still, if Broberg drops at the draft, then figures his game out, he could make a lot of teams look silly, because he has tremendous raw talent.
Alex Newhook | Centre
Ryan Kennedy | The Hockey News
The sneak peak of The Hockey News’ prospect rankings in their Future Watch issue had BCHL forward Alex Newhook at tenth overall. Newhook was dominant in the BCHL this season, leading the league in scoring with 102 points in 53 games. Unsurprisingly, he’s the top-ranked Junior A player in the draft.
Newhook is an elite skater, is incredible with the puck, and makes his linemates better with his excellent playmaking. The biggest question mark is that he’s in the BCHL, rather than in the CHL or some other stronger league. That certainly didn’t keep Cale Makar, who played in the weaker AJHL, from getting drafted fourth overall and Makar looks to be a legitimately elite defenceman.
Newhook is dynamic in every sense of the word and seems to do everything well; it would be hard to argue with taking him if he’s available at tenth overall.
Kirby Dach | Centre
Kirby Dach is 6’4” and 198 lbs, but if you just watched his feet and hands, you’d have no idea. Dach has the soft hands and agile skating of a much smaller player, and that’s a compliment. When you combine his stickhandling with his size, it’s nearly impossible to get the puck off him.
That combination suggests a power forward, but while Dach doesn’t hesitate to use his size to drive to the net, he’s more of a playmaker. He can protect the puck effectively while creating time and space for his linemates.
Dach was third in WHL scoring among first-time draft-eligible players behind Dylan Cozens and Brayden Tracey, putting up 25 goals and 73 points in 62 games. Dach is another player that might get picked long before the Canucks at tenth overall.
Victor Soderstrom | Defence
Any time a 17-year-old defenceman plays significant minutes in the SHL, you have to take notice. Victor Soderstrom played 44 games for Brynas in the SHL this season, putting up four goals and seven points.
Soderstrom possesses a mature defensive game, which is a big reason why he averaged over 17 minutes per game, leading all junior-aged players in the SHL. That can’t be ignored, even if he didn’t rack up points.
The question for Soderstrom is if he has more offence to give. The tools are certainly there, as he has the vision and passing to move the puck up ice and create in the offensive zone, and he’s also a strong skater.
Soderstrom certainly ticks a lot of boxes for the Canucks: he’s a right-hand shot and arguably has top-pairing potential, with the steady defensive game that could one day complement Quinn Hughes. Scouts praise his reads in the defensive zone and he quickly closes gaps with his agile skating.