The Vancouver Canucks had to wait until the third round to make their first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft. General manager Jim Benning traded the team’s first and second-round picks, but has had an impressive track record in the third round and onward in the past three drafts. He’s found at least two gems in the mid to late rounds of the draft from 2017 to 2019.
Round 3: Joni Jurmo (82nd Overall)
With their first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, the Canucks selected defenceman Joni Jurmo. Jurmo played with Jokerit of the Junior SM-liiga last season and posted 28 points in 43 games. This season, he’s playing for JYP in the SM-Liiga and has zero points through two games with the team.
At 6-foot-4, 198 pounds, Jurmo is very skilled, has good speed with mobility, moves the puck well and has good range, according to an NHL scout. As for improvements, the Finnish defenceman is too reliant on his stick and doesn’t leverage his size, but is not a liability in his end (from ‘Defencemen with top-4 upside the Canucks should target at the draft,’ The Athletic, 06/26/2020). The Canucks have a potential steal in Jurmo with a third-round pick.
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He has upside as an offensive defenceman who needs to improve his decision making and defensive awareness. The Canucks add Jurmo to their prospect pool, as other prospects on their blueline such as Jack Rathbone, Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty will challenge for a spot on the main roster soon.
Round 4: Jackson Kunz (113th Overall)
Benning followed up the Jurmo pick with a 6-foot-3, 209-pound left-winger in Jackson Kunz. The 18-year old played with the Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep of the USHS-Prep last season, where he posted 40 goals and 69 points in 45 games. He will play with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL this season and is going to the University of North Dakota next year.
Kunz’s strengths include finding open space, going to soft areas of coverage and great off-puck movement. He needs to improve on his transitional skating. Kunz is a high school player and has earned praise for his work rate and size, but his upside and skating are questionable.
Round 5: Jacob Truscott (144th Overall)
With their third pick of the draft, the Canucks selected Jacob Truscott. Truscott, an 18-year old defenceman, will play for the University of Michigan in the upcoming season. He had 21 points with the U.S. National U18 team in the 2019-20 season.
Truscott is a 6-foot-1, 179-pound two-way defenceman with a decent shot and skating ability. One scout stated Truscott is physically underdeveloped but very smart, and if he can add strength, he will have the tools to play in the NHL. Defensively he is inconsistent, as he shows high-end defensive ability in one shift and not in the next.
Round 6: Dmitri Zlodeyev (175th Overall)
In the sixth round, Benning selected Russian centreman, Dmitri Zlodeyev. Zlodeyev has three goals through five games with the Dynamo Krasnogorsk of the VHL. Last season, he had 12 goals and 28 points in 42 games with MHK Dynamo Moskva of the MHL. He stands at 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds and is a two-way forward.
Zlodeyev’s strengths come from his vision, deceptive shot and defensive awareness. As for improvements, the Russian doesn’t fare well in board battles and usually is outmuscled in one-on-one situations. Zlodeyev could be another late-round steal from Benning, as TSN’s Craig Button had the forward going near the end of the second round.
Round 7: Viktor Persson (191st Overall)
With their final pick of the draft, the Canucks selected Viktor Persson. Persson is a Swedish defenceman, standing at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, he is smart offensively. He was supposed to play with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, but with the season postponed, he is playing with Brynas IF J20, where he has three goals in six games. Last season, he had 18 points through 26 games with the club.
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He is the third defenceman the Canucks drafted this year but is the first right-handed defender they selected. The Canucks lack right-handed blue liners throughout their pipeline, but Persson is a great addition to the group. He is another potential late-round steal for Benning as Button had him at No. 42 in his rankings.
Benning Found Value in Late Rounds
In the 2019 NHL Draft, Benning didn’t take a single defenceman, even though the club had nine picks. This year, three of the Canucks’ five picks were defenders. Benning started strong with his third-round pick, but the fourth and fifth-round picks were somewhat questionable. He found value in the final two rounds, adding two players who dropped in the draft and have high offensive abilities. With the 2020 NHL Draft wrapped up, the Canucks now turn their focus towards free agency.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.