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Draft Preview: Vancouver Canucks – Calder Canucks

Strategic rebuild can be seen in a steady run of rookie finalists.

The Canucks surprised a lot of people by playing meaningful games in March when the expectation was that they’d be close to the bottom of the standings. GM Jim Benning has done a nice job securing prospects at every position and rebuilding the homegrown way. He’s also had success adding veteran support further down the lineup through free agency, which has helped to ease the young team’s growing pains.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: After Vancouver’s big three scorers of Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, only one other forward exceeded 30 points, and Antoine Roussel wasn’t picked up for offense. Just about every other forward has the capacity to raise his offensive ceiling. If they don’t do so soon, they’ll be pushed down – or off – the depth chart.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: The Canucks had 13 D-men suit up, and that doesn’t include 2016 top pick Olli Juolevi. When Quinn Hughes steps in next season, Vancouver will have the makings of a bona fide No. 1 stud. After that, it’s a mishmash of vets and support blueliners who are best suited to depth roles. They could use another dynamic defender to grow with the talented young forwards.

CAP SITUATION: There’s plenty of cap space to lock up Boeser with a big deal this summer and bring back some of the other free agents. By the time Pettersson is up for his second pact in 2021 – and it will be a huge one – Loui Eriksson’s bad contract will have just one year remaining and could be bought out. There aren’t any other unsightly deals that go beyond 2022.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: Hughes showed great chops in a few games at the end of the season after two years at NCAA Michigan. There’s a chance he plays on an all-rookie tandem with Juolevi. That would spice up the power play.

DID YOU KNOW: Tyler Madden plays with the same intensity as his father, John, a three-time Cup champ and Selke Trophy winner with New Jersey. But the Northeastern center is quicker and plays a more skilled game. He was a steal in the third round of the 2018 draft.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Alexander Edler, 91st, ’04
Kevin Bieksa, 151st, ’01
Jannik Hansen, 287th, ’04
Ben Hutton, 147th, ’12
Mike Brown, 159th, ’04
Kevin Connauton, 83rd, ’09
Gustav Forsling, 126th, ’14

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 98
100+ NHL GAMES: 7
PERCENT SUCCESS: 7.1%
NHL RANK: 29th

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