Missing the playoffs and finishing near the bottom of the standings has its perks, even though it’s frustrating to watch year in and year out. The Vancouver Canucks have been unfortunately part of that group in all but one of their last six seasons, which has gifted them Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Vasily Podkolzin. Two of those four have already become integral parts of the team’s core and one of them is poised to join them in the very near future. Suffice it to say, the draft has been very kind to the team in recent years.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
The 2021 NHL Draft should be no different as the Canucks have yet another top-ten pick in their quiver, ready to hit the bull’s eye. Despite many people in Canucks Nation believing I made the wrong decision, with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 THW NHL Mock Draft, I selected from Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League, Fabian Lysell.
What Lysell Brings to the Canucks
Yes, Kent Johnson was still available when I sat down to make my choice for the Canucks. Except I believe Lysell will be a better player than him in the long run, just like Pettersson turned out to be over Cody Glass who a lot of people thought should have been chosen instead.
Lysell is exciting and creative, something the Canucks always need more of especially if they are looking to entice the fan base to come back to Rogers Arena. He’s also one of the best skaters in this draft class, where he displays “straight-line speed and two-step quickness” whenever he ventures into the offensive zone. Combine that with his inhuman playmaking skills and hockey IQ and you have someone that could rival Pettersson but with way more speed and acceleration.
Yes, the Canucks need center depth in the organization, but Lysell could be a 30-40 goal scorer in his prime. That’s something you don’t just pass over. Compared favorably to Artemi Panarin by Smaht Scouting, he could be another part of the exciting young core they are building. With lots of good centers potentially available in the second round like Danila Klimovich, Zach Dean, Victor Stjernborg, Brett Harrison, and Ryder Korczak, they could still get their future top-six center even with drafting Lysell at ninth overall.
Elias Pettersson vs. Fabian Lysell
When you look back at when Pettersson was drafted, he was ranked to go as high as 13th to as low as 27th. So when general manager Jim Benning stepped up to the podium and said his name at fifth overall it was a bit surprising, to say the least. With names like Glass, Nick Suzuki, Martin Necas, and Casey Mittelstadt still available, there were definite rumblings that the Canucks had made a mistake. Pettersson was slight, unproven on the international stage, and according to then-THW writer David Carlsson, “a bit of a long-term project.” Fast forward to now, and he is one of the top talents in the NHL capable of wowing fans and experts at a moment’s notice. He also has two 20-goal seasons under his belt and 153 points in 165 career games.
Now, Lysell may be ranked more favorably by the experts than Pettersson, but there are some that think he could drop out of the top ten due to his size and defensive game. TSN’s resident scout, Craig Button even thinks he could fall all the way to 27th, which is highly unlikely given his skillset. Two of those things described Pettersson back in 2017 as well, and look at what he turned into. Yes, I realize Lysell is 5-foot-10 and Pettersson is 6-foot-2, but he was and still is, a very slight 6-foot-2.
Defence can be taught, dynamic speed, creativity, and hockey IQ are things you are born with, that’s just a fact. The perceived weakness of size is canceled out by his shiftiness and of course, his speed and acceleration. You can’t check what you cannot catch. Mark my words, even if the Canucks do not draft him he will become a prominent part of any NHL team when he hits his prime, just like his Swedish countryman before him.
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Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.
Matthew also co-hosts The Hockey Writers Prospect Corner on YouTube.