Vancouver’s Draft Weekend

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

The Vancouver Canucks drafted some future NHLers in front of their home crowd on June 21 and made a big deal on June 22.

Vasili Podkolzin

Jim Benning and his team started the offseason with drafting Vasili Podkolzin 10th overall. The Russian forward was thought to be a Top 5 pick in the draft for most of the year, but his stock took a bit of a hit. Some earlier picks were a little left field, such as Detroit’s pick of Germany’s Moritz Seider, which opened the door for Vancouver to pick the winger.

Podkolzin likes to go full-speed and has no qualms with running through defenders on his way to the net. He’s got a good vision, can make plays and he’s a finisher. He is an awkward skater though, despite his speed.

Benning thinks the Russian winger is NHL ready right now, but that might not matter. He has two years left on his deal with Saint Petersburg in the KHL. It’s no secret that NHL clubs have been reluctant to draft from Podkolzin’s country as well, due to some players refusing to come to the league.

Overall though, it’s a good pick and could end up being a very high-reward pick for Vancouver.

Nils Höglander

Another winger joined the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the draft. Hailing from Rögle BK, Höglander finished his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League, registering seven goals and 14 points. He’s creative with the puck and can stick handle like it’s no one’s business. Prior to the draft, he was projected to be a mid-to-late first round pick but dropped later in the year.

He’s a short guy (by NHL standards), which may have played in the stock draft, and is only 18. But he can get fairly physical and by all accounts, was comfortable playing in Sweden’s top flight.

J.T. Miller

The Vancouver Canucks traded their third-round pick, along with the rights to goaltender Mark Mazanec, and a conditional 2020 or 2021 first round pick to Tampa Bay for JT Miller. Frankly, I think this was a bad trade to make for the Canucks. They will take on Miller’s full $5.25 million per year salary for four years. It will be more beneficial to the eastern team, as they shed a nice chunk of cap space to resign their younger and better talents.

Now, Miller isn’t a bad player. It’s just that Vancouver gave too much up for him. He will also be playing with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, which could make an excellent line. But Jim Benning is going for the win-now approach now, instead of setting up the much-needed foundation for the team. Ultimately, Vancouver is not ready to win now, they still need more pieces, which Benning just possibly gave away in this trade.

The rest

Vancouver traded Tom Pyatt and their sixth-round pick to San Jose for Francis Perron and a seventh-round pick. They also traded their 102nd overall pick to Buffalo for picks 122 (Ethan Keppen) and 175 (Karel Plasek). For pick 133, they selected centre Carson Focht from the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. Jack Malone was selected with the 180th pick. Vancouver’s last picks (195) were American Aidan McDonough and Sweden’s Arvid Costmar (215).

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