Canucks Draft Misses Since 2015

The Vancouver Canucks have struggled to draft and develop players for a large part of the past seven years. Yes, they have found some key players like Thatcher Demko and Nils Höglander in the second round or later, but that is pretty much it. While there have been misses in the first round, such as Olli Juolevi and Jake Virtanen, a lot of Vancouver’s current problems can be attributed to their drafting beyond their first-rounders.

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Meanwhile, teams around them have consistently found talent beyond the first round, which have become important parts of their organizations. Whether it is trading away picks or reaching on players, this organization has failed tremendously in their evaluation of draft prospects over the past seven years. With all this in mind, here is a look at picks made in the second round from 2015 until now and who the Canucks could have had instead.

2015 – 144th Overall – Carl Neill Over Troy Terry

In the fifth round, the Canucks decided to draft Carl Neill out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He was a decently-sized defender who put up 40 points in his draft year yet was never ranked on the NHL Central Scouting final rankings. Regardless, Vancouver decided to take a swing and got a player who would not only never play a game for the organization but never actually sign a contract with the Canucks.

Related: 3 Things Ducks Fans Should Be Thankful For in 2022-23

Just four picks later, the Anaheim Ducks went on to select forward Troy Terry, who was playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He had a strong season with the USNTDP, which included winning World U18 gold and capturing a bronze at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. More importantly, he was actually ranked by NHL Central Scouting, coming in at 107th among North American forwards. Since his draft season, he is over a half point per game at the NHL level with 142 points in 234 games and is off to a strong start in 2022-23 with 27 points in his first 30 games of the year.

2016 – 64th Overall – William Lockwood Over Adam Fox

Back in 2016, the Canucks needed a lot of help, but where they needed it the most was on the right side of the defence. Instead, Vancouver went with forward William Lockwood, who was playing for the USNTDP at the time. He had a decent year with the USNTDP, which led to then-general manager Jim Benning selecting him in the third round. Since his draft, he has played in 16 NHL games and is currently stuck in the America Hockey League (AHL).

Adam Fox New York Rangers
Adam Fox, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Two picks later, the Calgary Flames would select future Norris winner, defenceman Adam Fox who played on the same team as Lockwood. Despite being a right-shot defenceman, which the Canucks desperately needed, he outproduced the Canucks’ pick with 59 points in 64 games. Although he refused to sign with the Flames, Calgary was able to use him as part of a trade package for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Regardless of whether or not the young defenceman would have signed in Vancouver, at least they could have used his rights to bring in more assets that could be making a difference to this team today.

2017 – 33rd Overall – Kole Lind Over Jason Robertson

During the 2017 Draft, the Canucks were beyond ecstatic to draft Kole Lind 33rd overall. Playing for the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Hockey League (WHL), he had put up 87 points in 70 games and had led the Rockets on a long playoff run. Ranked 23rd among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting, the Canucks thought they had gotten a winger who would be with the organization for a long time. Unfortunately, that was not the case; after a slow start to his career, he was lost to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft and only played a total of seven games with the Canucks.

Related: Stars’ Robertson Is an Early Hart Frontrunner

Sixth selections later, the Dallas Stars selected Jason Robertson, who has emerged as one of the league’s top young talents. Before the draft, he was ranked 14th among North American skaters and at the time, it was perplexing how he ended up dropping to 39th overall. The steal of the draft, he is over a point a game for his career and has started the 2022-23 campaign with 23 goals and 43 points in his first 30 games.

2017 – 64th Overall – Michael DiPietro Over Morgan Geekie

In the third round of the 2017 Draft, the Canucks decided to add to their goaltending pool by selecting Micahel DiPietro out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Despite already having Jacob Markström and Thatcher Demko in their organization, Vancouver decided they wanted to add another promising keeper who had just helped the Windsor Spitfire to a Memorial Cup Championship. Fast forward to the present, and he is no longer with the organization after not being given a chance due to Vancouver’s strong goaltending depth.

Morgan Geekie, Seattle Kraken
Morgan Geekie Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Three selections later, the Carolina Hurricanes selected Morgan Geekie, who was tearing it up just hours away from Vancouver with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. During his draft season, he led the Americans with 35 goals and 90 points and was ranked 41st among North American skaters. Since his draft, he has developed into an everyday NHL center and has put up 45 points in 133 games.

2018 – 37th Overall – Jett Woo Over Ryan McLeod

In 2018, the Canucks jumped at the opportunity to draft defenceman Jett Woo with the 37th-overall pick. A stable defender who played for Moose Jaw in the WHL, he was ranked 28th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Just like most of the other prospects on this list, he has yet to make his NHL debut and is now approaching the 100-game mark for his AHL career.

Related: Oilers’ McLeod Showing Off His Scoring Touch in Second Season

Three selections later, the Edmonton Oilers picked forward Ryan McLeod, who was ranked 16th among North American skaters that year. After a successful OHL career, he made his way to the AHL and has now become a full-time NHLer. While he only has 30 points in 102 games, he has developed into a useful bottom-six forward during his short NHL career.

Canucks Can’t Find Depth in the Draft

It is no secret the Canucks have had a problem drafting, but the fact they only have two players on the roster they selected in the second round or later is unacceptable. These are just five examples of Vancouver thinking they know better than the rest of the hockey world and reaching for players or ignoring positions they desperately need to fix. While hindsight is a factor, this shows how valuable non-first-round picks can be and is a reason the Canucks have only made the playoffs once since the 2015 Draft.

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