Canucks’ 2020 Mock Draft Recap

Recently I got to participate in The Hockey Writers’ seven-round mock draft with a few of the many gifted writers here at THW. It was a lot of fun to play general manager and scout for a few days as I selected players for the Vancouver Canucks.

Related: THW 2020 NHL Draft Guide

At the time, we were under the assumption that the Canucks would not have their first-round pick in 2020, so I didn’t get to select until the third round. Throughout the process, I was thinking about the needs in the organization as well as selecting the best player available when it came time for me to make my choice. So without further ado, here are the picks I made along with a bit of an explanation from me and analysis from other draft experts as well.

Round 1 – No. 79

RW Veeti Miettinen

2019-20 Stats:

  • Kiekko-Espoo U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga): 52 GP – 42 G – 31 A – 73 PTS

Ranked in the 50s by all three draft experts at THW, I was surprised to see Veeti Miettinen still available at 79. Honestly, you can never have enough skill and goalscoring potential in your prospect pipeline, so when I saw that he was still available, I went for it. Despite the need for a center and a defenceman (don’t worry they’re coming), he was too good to pass up. Just watch some highlights of Miettinen, and you can see why. He just oozes skill and creativity, not to mention a lethal shot and tremendous speed.

Miettinen is obviously a very talented offensive player. He has great hands which allow him to dangle in tight spaces very well. He is also a very smart player who can make creative plays for himself and for others as well. Even though he is a good playmaker, he’s more of a goal-scorer at heart. He has an excellent wrist shot which he can release quickly and accurately. He can also change the angle of the shot to make it even more difficult for the goalie.

Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

Miettinen is an undersized forward at 5-foot-9, but he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas. He also can kill penalties and play on the power play, so that adds some versatility to his game. Above all, he has a strong work ethic and gives it his all every time he’s on the ice. If he brings that same attitude to the NHL, I have no doubt that he will succeed. That ultimately tipped the scales when I saw him available to the Canucks in the third round.

Round 4 – No. 110

C Evan Vierling

2019-20 Stats:

  • Flint Firebirds (OHL): 15 GP – 2 G – 8 A – 10 PTS
  • Barrie Colts (OHL): 28 GP – 12 G – 22 A – 34 PTS

Evan Vierling could be the perfect pivot for the Canucks when he ultimately makes it to the NHL. After losing Tyler Madden in the Tyler Toffoli trade, they will surely be looking to improve the depth at the center ice position. He does everything well, but nothing really stands out as being elite. He’s a great playmaker though, so he could possibly be a good option on the power play in the future. His skating doesn’t have that speed factor to it, but it’s very smooth.

Evan Vierling Barrie Colts
Evan Vierling, Barrie Colts (Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The most important thing in Vierling’s game is his hockey sense. He’s a very smart player, and won’t hurt you when he’s on the ice. With the Canucks seemingly set with Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Adam Gaudette down the middle for the foreseeable future, he could slot in on the fourth line and not miss a beat. They are lacking depth beyond the recently signed Marc Michaelis, so strong two-way centermen should be a target as they venture through the later rounds. If his 34 points in 28 games after being acquired by the Barrie Colts are any indication, he could be a sleeper pick if he’s actually selected at this point in the draft.

Round 5 – No. 141

C Landon Slaggert

  • Age: 17
  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 183 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • US National U-18 Team (USDP): 47 GP – 13 G – 11 A – 24 PTS
  • USNTDP Juniors (USHL): 19 GP – 6 G – 4 A – 10 PTS

Keeping with the team needs aspect, I decided to go with another pivot in Landon Slaggert. Knowing the Canucks’ propensity for selecting players going into the NCAA ranks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on Benning’s radar too when the actual draft comes around. He’s also a very well-rounded centerman who can play up and down the lineup, which also falls right into the Canucks’ wheelhouse when it comes to selecting players. Just like Vierling, he doesn’t have one skill that stands out as being elite but does everything well.

Slaggert has the potential to be a solid bottom-six centerman in the NHL. As Steve Kournianos at the Draft Analyst states,

Slaggert is incredibly low maintenance and proved time and again he can drive possession with smart decisions, puck protection, and proper positioning off the cycle.

Not to mention he also has a lethal wrist shot, can forecheck with the best of them, and kill penalties effectively too. That sounds like a perfect third-line center and a coach’s dream to me.

Round 6 – No. 172

D Axel Rindell

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 176 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Jukurit (SM-liiga): 47 GP – 6 G – 16 A – 22 PTS

Finally, we get to our first defenceman, Axel Rindell. As an overager at 20-years-old, he’s already been passed over in both the 2018 and 2019 drafts due to underwhelming play in Finland’s junior leagues. Though when he graduated to the Liiga in 2020, it’s like he turned over a new leaf and became a legitimate NHL prospect. The Canucks seem to like older players in the later rounds, so he could definitely be targeted by them by the time the draft starts winding down.

Rindell is a typical offensive defenceman, capable of skating the puck swiftly out of the defensive zone and making an accurate stretch pass when necessary. On the power play, he has a hard slap shot which he uses regularly. If he’s not scoring with it, he’s creating rebounds and havoc around the net because it inevitably will not be absorbed by the goaltender. The Canucks haven’t had someone like that since another Finnish defenceman by the name of Sami Salo did it almost a decade ago. His defensive game could still use some improvement, but that will come with time.

The good thing about Rindell being an overager is that he could play in the American Hockey League as soon as next season and be available to the parent club as an option as well. Oh yes, he’s also a right-hand shot, which the Canucks are in desperate need of in their pipeline. All of this made him a slam dunk in the sixth round.

Round 7 – No. 191

RW Senna Peeters

  • Age: 17
  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 168 pounds

2019-20 Stats:

  • Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): 47 GP – 23 G – 10 A – 33 PTS
  • Austria National Team U-20: 5 GP – 3 G – 3 A – 6 PTS

Finally, with the last pick in this year’s draft, which was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks along with Luke Schenn, I went with Belgium native Senna Peeters. Fun fact, he was the first Belgian born and Belgian trained player to ever suit up in the QMJHL. If he ever makes it to the NHL, he would only be the second player from Belgium to accomplish the feat.

Peeters has all the tools to become a good two-way player in the NHL, but he still has to create the toolbox to put them in.

[Peeters] skates, shoots and passes well but is very raw when it comes to putting it all together. He’s the type of player that looks very good in warmup but when it comes time to do it all at game speed, the gears don’t seem to mesh as well.

Brayden Olafson, Dobber Prospects
Senna Peeters Halifax Mooseheads
Senna Peeters of the Halifax Mooseheads (Trevor MacMillan)

If Peeters can put it all together, he has the hockey sense to make it all work. That’s what gives me hope for the future. If he had the skills without that, then I wouldn’t have taken a chance on him, even in the seventh round. His minus-43 rating could be a cause for concern, but as we all know that is a flawed stat. His offensive numbers in the QMJHL were not mind-blowing either, but what stood out to me was his play in the IIHF U20 Division 1 World Junior Hockey Championship. He was among the team leaders with six points in five games and helped Team Austria get promoted to the main tournament in 2021.

All in all, Peeters is a low-risk, high-reward type pick. If he makes it to the NHL and is effective, it’s found money. If he doesn’t, then he’s just another statistic in a long-line of failed seventh round picks. Though, if I was a betting man, his work ethic and hockey sense should serve him well as he journeys towards his ultimate goal of the NHL.

Canucks Should Still Find Value in the 2020 NHL Draft

Even though the Canucks could be waiting until the third round to make their first pick of 2020, they should still be able to add some solid players to their prospect pool. In this mock draft, I went in looking to add center depth and a right-hand shot defenceman. I got both in Vierling, Slaggert, and Rindell. I also was able to add some skill with Miettinen and potential in Peeters. Overall, I think all these players would actually be on the Canucks’ radar when the draft finally becomes a reality later this year. It probably won’t play out as it did in our mock draft, but one thing’s for sure, we will get to follow some new faces in the coming seasons and that’s always exciting.