The Vancouver Canucks enter the 2022 NHL Entry Draft with the 15th-overall selection. This pick has produced some pretty significant players in the past, including J.T. Miller, Joe Sakic and Mike Bossy. The hope is whoever Vancouver selects can become an impact player for the foreseeable future, with one of those possibilities being Finland’s Brad Lambert.
Lambert’s Scouting Report
A deadly combination of speed and skill, Lambert is one of the most skilled players in the draft. He has a quick shot and isn’t afraid to use it, only failing to register a shot on goal six times during the 2021-22 season. Playing on the bigger ice surface in Europe has really helped him show off his blistering speed as he can blow by defenders on the rush and is able to get the puck on the net with ease. Lastly, he does have the ability to play center, but would be best suited on the wing based on his skill set.
The potential is there that he could be one of the best players to come out of the draft, but there are some areas he needs to work on. The first is playmaking. He is a shoot-first player who needs to better utilize his teammates. When on his off side, he seemed more interested in firing a backhand rather than getting the puck to someone in a better scoring position.
He also is very hesitant to drive the net fully, with a tendency to shoot the puck from farther. In short, he has all the capabilities to be a dynamic all-around player, but needs to learn that sometimes the best play is handing it off to his teammates rather than trying to create a highlight-reel-type play all by himself.
The player most experts compare Lambert to is William Nylander. Just like the Toronto Maple Leafs winger, there are some doubts about his overall game, but if developed correctly could turn into a high-end player. That is a comparable Canucks fans should be excited about, especially after passing on the Swedish winger back in 2014.
Why The Canucks Should be Interested
Although Lambert is a high-risk pick, the payoff could be worth it. One of the main focuses for the Canucks needs to be adding speed to their lineup. There are few, if any, that have the speed and skating ability that he has. His offensive tool kit is also very intriguing as his puck-handling skills in the offensive zone, as well as his shot, are arguably some of the best in the draft.
One other reason the Canucks should be interested in Lambert is they can monitor his development closely over the next few seasons. The Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Seattle Thunderbirds recently acquired the rights to the Finnish prospect with the intent of bringing him to North America next season. With him playing just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, it would allow the Canucks organization to visit with and keep in close contact throughout the season.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
A good example of this was Alex Edler, who was selected by the Kelowna Rockets the same offseason he was drafted by the Canucks back in 2005. The now Los Angeles Kings defenceman was able to get used to the North American style of game while being just a few hours from Vancouver, allowing them to check in on him throughout the season.
This also happened with Vancouver’s seventh-round 2020 Draft pick Viktor Persson as his move to the Kamloops Blazers allowed the Canucks’ development team to monitor and watch him play live throughout the year. Although it may seem like a small detail, it can make a world of difference in a player’s development as the team can make sure the prospect is on track and help pinpoint areas that need to be worked on.
Why The Canucks May Stay Away
The main reason why Vancouver may steer clear of Lambert is that he is one of the hardest prospects to project in the draft. While he shows all the traits of becoming an elite talent, there are some major holes in his game. He often shies away from contact and, as mentioned, hasn’t shown a desire to utilize his teammates in the offensive end. The Canucks have not had a first-round pick since the 2019 Draft and need to restock the prospect pool with high-end talent that are safer picks. While he is a very intriguing prospect, it may be too much risk for Vancouver at this time.
The other reason is that the Canucks may be picking based on need. Although Lambert plays center, he projects as a winger, which isn’t Vancouver’s biggest need. This is why they may go with a defenceman or a prospect projected to play center with the pick filling out those holes in the prospect pool with their 2022 first-round pick.
If Lambert is available when the Canucks are set to select, they should swing for the fences and select him. Yes, he is not the perfect prospect, but there is a lot of room to grow and develop him to where he could be a top-line winger at the NHL level. His versatility in playing center also adds another dynamic to his game as long as he can learn to drive the middle lane better. If available, he is the prospect with the highest ceiling and could have Canuck fans thinking “What if” down the line if Vancouver passes on him.
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Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.