Canucks Weekly: 2021 NHL Draft Watch Starts

The Vancouver Canucks are nearing the end of the 2020-21 season with seven games remaining. This last week, they played four games against the Edmonton Oilers, only picking up one win. 

The first game of the week between the two clubs came on Monday. The Oilers picked up a 5-3 win. The two teams were tied at one goal apiece after the first period before the Oilers exploded for three goals in the second period. J.T. Miller scored his team’s lone second-period tally. In the third, Brock Boeser scored to make it a one-goal game until Connor McDavid extended the lead back to two goals. 

Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The following game came on the back end of a back-to-back between the two teams. Boeser gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead in the first period, before the Oilers once again took over in the second period, getting two goals from Leon Draisaitl and one from Evan Bouchard. Darnell Nurse scored the fourth goal in the third period to give the club a 4-1 win. 

On Thursday night, the Canucks picked up their only win of the week. They beat Edmonton 6-3 in the third game of the week. The team took an early 4-0 lead in less than eight minutes into the first period. Oilers pulled goalie Mikko Koskinen after allowing four goals on four shots. Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi cut the lead in half before the end of the first. Tyler Graovac scored his first NHL goal in the second period. Draisaitl and Boeser were the lone goal scorers in the third period. 

The final game of the week between the Canucks and the Oilers was a historic one. McDavid registered four points in his team’s 4-3 win, which included a six-goal second period, to reach 100 points in 53 games. 

Tanking Season

After being away for almost two years, team tank is back in Vancouver. With seven games remaining and the team’s playoff hopes pretty much dead, some fans are hoping the team continues to lose for a better chance at a high draft pick. Before the 2019-20 season, the Canucks had been picking in the top 10 in every draft since 2016. 

The team sits in the bottom three in points across the league, but they have more games in hand than other clubs in the league’s bottom 10. They currently have a 6.5% chance of winning the first overall pick and a 13.3% chance to win the second overall pick through the Draft Lottery. They take on two playoff teams in the Winnipeg Jets, who they play twice, and the Edmonton Oilers once. Meanwhile, they also play the Calgary Flames four times. The Flames have five games remaining this season and have four more points than the Canucks, therefore, the final four games between the two teams will help decide where they end up in the standings. 

The 2021 NHL Draft is important for the Canucks as most of their top prospects are joining the main roster. This season, two of the team’s top three prospects, Nils Hoglander and Jack Rathbone, made their NHL debut. Their top prospect Vasili Podkolzin should make his NHL debut next season. Therefore, the Canucks must start re-stocking the cupboards with young talent.

There are a few players the team can potentially add at this year’s draft. Defenceman Luke Hughes, Quinn’s younger brother, is a potential top-10 pick along with defenders Owen Power, Simon Edvinsson, and Brandt Clarke. The Canucks’ blueline has a lot of younger d-man, so the team will likely look to add a forward. Forwards Matthew Berniers, Fabian Lysell, Dylan Guenther, Kent Johnson and William Eklund are potential top-10 picks this year as well. The team could add a skilled forward with their pick this year.

Rathbone Makes his NHL Debut

Rathbone played in his first NHL game last week, as he played in his first game against the Oilers on Tuesday. It didn’t take the young defenceman long before he scored his first career NHL goal, as on Thursday, he scored the team’s second goal in their 6-3 win. 

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The 2017 fourth-round pick scored 22 points in 33 games as a freshman at Harvard University in 2018-19, and in 2019-20, he scored 31 points in 28 games. He played in eight games with the Utica Comets this season, scoring two goals and posting nine points. The remainder of the season gives the Canucks an opportunity to see how well the young defender fits into the team’s lineup. He is an offensive defenceman who can potentially become a top-four d-man for the team in the coming years.

McDavid’s 100th Point

McDavid has been on a tear this season, and this last week was not different. In four games against the Canucks last week, he posted three points to help him reach the impressive 100 point mark. He has 1.89 points per game played (P/GP) this year, and in an 82 game season, the forward would be on pace to scoring 155 points. The only players to get 155 points or more are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman.

Seeing an all-time great reach a historic milestone or set a record against the Canucks is a familiar feeling to the team’s fans. Gretzky reached multiple milestones against Vancouver. He registered more points (239) against the franchise than any other team. Additionally, he scored his first career goal against the club, his 500th goal and his 802nd goal, which beat Gordie Howe’s record for most goals in the history of the NHL. 

Final Full Week of Action

The Canucks start next week in a back-to-back against the Jets, the final two games between the two teams this season. On Thursday, they take on the Flames and then play their final game against the Oilers on Saturday. They half one and a half weeks of action remaining this season.

Top Performers

Brock Boeser – three goals, one assist

J.T. Miller – two goals, two assists

Nils Hoglander – one goal, three assists

Who’s Next?

  • May 10th – at Winnipeg Jets 
  • May 11th – at Winnipeg Jets 
  • May 13th – at Calgary Flames
  • May 15th – at Edmonton Oilers

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