Don’t look now, but the 2022 NHL Draft is only a few days away, and we will soon find out what new players will be joining the Vancouver Canucks’ prospect pool. By all indications, they will be making a selection in the first round this year for the first time since 2019 when they chose Vasily Podkolzin 10th overall. However, as of this writing, they don’t have a second-round pick, which was traded in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson/Conor Garland deal with the Arizona Coyotes the night before the 2021 Draft. As such, they will be waiting until the third round to make their next choice, unless they make a trade to re-acquire it, of course.
Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Unless a trade happens in the days leading up to July 7 or live on the draft floor, the Canucks will have the 15th, 80th, 112th, 144th, 176th and 208th picks this year. While it’s next to impossible to predict who they will ultimately choose, I am going to try anyway. So without further ado, here is a glimpse into my crystal ball (or alternate universe, if you will) for the Canucks’ 2022 Draft class.
1st Round, 15th Overall – Liam Öhgren, Left Wing, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
Now that Elias Pettersson, Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin are full-time NHLers, the Canucks could use a player of Liam Öhgren’s ceiling in their system. While some scouts hesitate to call him a potential first-line winger, his skill set lends itself to becoming, at the very least, a solid two-way bottom-six winger who can generate 30-40 points a season. That’s a very conservative projection though, as I believe he could develop into a top-six winger in his prime with a ceiling of 70-plus points.
According to Shane Malloy, who authored ‘The Art of Scouting’, the Canucks are very interested in him too, saying, “Just like offensive defencemen, power forwards are hard to find and there are not many in the league…If you can find one, you take him and I understand what they (Canucks) like Ohgren. He’ll be able to provide an element to the organization that they don’t have a lot of. He’s going to be more than 200 pounds and he already plays like a man” (from ‘Who will the Canucks draft? Swedish winger Liam Ohgren has big power-forward potential’ Ben Kuzma – The Province, 7/3/22).
The Canucks have done well with drafting Swedes in the past, so if they do indeed select Öhgren, I have no doubt that he will succeed under the watchful eye of Thomas Gradin, the Sedins and now Mikael Samuelsson in the front office. Given his size, work ethic, speed and mature two-way game, he has everything he needs to succeed in the modern NHL that is based on pace and puck possession. Even if he doesn’t hit first-line status, he will still be someone that can contribute in the middle-six with how smart he is in all zones on the ice.
3rd Round, 80th Overall – Christian Kyrou, Right Defence, Erie Otters (OHL)
The Canucks need more defencemen that play the right side in their system. Christian Kyrou would fill that need and more. Known for his offensive prowess and elite skating, he would be an exciting addition to a defence corps that already includes the dynamic presence of Quinn Hughes. As I said with Denton Mateychuk in his target piece, imagine a top-four with Hughes on one pairing and Kyrou on the other. While he’s not as highly regarded as his Western Hockey League counterpart, he still has the ability to dominate from the blue line with his package of skating, smarts and ability to get shots through to the net.
“Right away, we have to talk about Kyrou’s offense. It is high end for someone who doesn’t turn 19 until September. His skating ability allows him to start the rush or jump into the attack and create chaos. Then he uses his smarts to make the right play whether it’s pass or shoot. He ultimately became the quarterback of the Otters’ power play as the season went on.” – Mark Scheig, The Hockey Writers
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Playing for the aforementioned Otters, Kyrou accumulated 18 goals and 60 points in 68 games, all after losing a year of development due to the pandemic that canceled the OHL’s 2020-21 campaign. Similar to Hughes before he was drafted in 2018, he still needs to work on his defensive game and overall strength. Though, with time and development that shouldn’t be an issue. If his name is still on the board when the Canucks select at 80, they shouldn’t hesitate to speak his name into the mic.
4th Round, 112th Overall – Ludvig Jansson, Right Defence, Södertälje SK (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Speaking of defence and the Canucks’ favorite country, Sweden, let’s talk about another right-hander in Ludvig Jansson. If Ohgren is drafted in the first round, he would mark the second Swede selected and the second straight right-handed defenceman following Kyrou. With their need for more mobility on the back end, especially on the right side, Jansson wouldn’t be a bad pick.
Like Kyrou before him, the thing that stands out when you watch Jansson is his skating and overall mobility.
“On top of his skating and offensive skills, he’s an aggressive defender, using his speed and agility to quickly move the puck up into the attacking zone or try to close a gap between him and an opponent. He loves jumping up in the rush, and he’s good at it, too – of the 15 defensemen who dressed in an international contest this season, Jansson was one of seven to register a goal, and was the youngest to accomplish the feat.” – Dayton Reimer, The Hockey Writers
Considering both Allvin and Jim Rutherford have continued to reiterate the need to get faster and spend less time in the defensive zone, Jansson would help in that respect. His tools may be unrefined at this point, but that means there’s still a lot of potential in his game.
5th Round, 144th Overall – Ben King, Center/Right Wing, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
As we get into the nitty-gritty of the draft, here is where you start to take swings and hope you hit one out of the park. Going back to North America for this one, if anyone should be high on this kid it’s the Canucks. I’m talking about Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels, the same Ben King that lit it up with recently-signed prospect Arshdeep Bains. The dynamic duo put together monster seasons of 105 and 112 points respectively and finished 1-2 in the WHL scoring race with Bains winning the title and King topping the goal chart with an eye-popping 52 goals.
Needless to say, King had a season to remember in his final year of draft eligibility. Frankly, if he’s not drafted by someone this time around, there’s something seriously wrong, and with the already-established chemistry with Bains and the fact that he’s eligible for the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2022-23, should make picking him a no-brainer for Allvin and the Canucks (at least in this writer’s opinion). Just imagine King and Bains continuing their dominance as a duo with the Abbotsford Canucks next season. That’s marquee stuff right there.
6th Round, 176th Overall – Zach Bookman, Right Defence, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
Another overager in this draft and definitely one to take a swing on is 5-foot-10 point machine Zach Bookman of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) Brooks Bandits. After a season that saw him put up a video-game-like 21 goals and 102 points in 55 games, he should garner some attention in the later rounds, at the very least. You would think he would be ranked in the first couple of rounds with totals like that, but only two major scouting outlets have him on their lists, and even they have him going no earlier than the bottom of the third round.
All he did was best one Cale Makar and his 75-point season by 27 points. He also broke the record for most assists by a defenceman and first-year player with 81 and won the W.G. (Bill) Memorial Trophy as the AJHL’s Outstanding Defenceman. Finally, he finished third overall in league scoring. No big deal right? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Bookman will hit the heights Makar has in the NHL, but he should be given more love by the experts with point totals and accolades like that.
The bottom line is, that the Canucks should seriously consider drafting this guy if he’s still available in the fifth or sixth rounds. He might be all offence, but in an NHL trending towards undersized and offensively-gifted blueliners, Bookman is worth the risk, especially when it gets down to the later rounds.
7th Round, 208th Overall – Helmer Styf, Center/Left Wing, MoDo Hockey J20 (Nationell)
Finally, we get to the seventh round, where darts are thrown with the hope of hitting a bulls-eye. If the draft goes as I have predicted (highly unlikely), the Canucks would have already drafted one potential center in King, three right-handed defencemen in Kyrou, Jansson and Bookman and a left-winger in Ohgren. So, why not go back to Sweden and draft more skill in center/winger Helmer Styf out of the Sedins and Markus Naslund’s old stomping grounds of MoDo?
According to Fredrik Haak over at FC Hockey, Styf is “an offensive-minded winger that likes to do unexpected things when he enters the offensive zone [and a] dangerous man to have in front of the goal [who] always seems to find the time and space for himself to get a rebound or deflection” (from ‘23476 – MoDo J20 vs. Sodertalje J20 Game Report’ FC Hockey, 2/22/22).
Victor Bergman, in another report done earlier in the year, liked his speed and willingness to drive to the net and marvelled at his first few steps, crossovers and powerful stride. While his defence may not be good enough to play at center in the NHL, the fact that he can play both positions should bode well for his future. All in all, Styf could be an interesting pick for the Canucks with their final choice of 2022.
Canucks Need to Find Value in the Later Rounds
At this point, the Canucks don’t have a second-round pick in their arsenal, so they will have to hit on a few selections in the later rounds. Fortunately for them, there are a lot of intriguing players throughout rounds three to seven this year. We will see which six players (as of right now) Allvin and company come away with when the draft ends on July 8. Until then, enjoy the festivities!
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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.