One thing’s for sure: the Canucks will end up with a very good player at fifth overall in this year’s draft. Assuming much of the fan base has accepted that it’s not a top-three pick, there’s lots to look forward to for the team come June 24th.
“You try to keep things in perspective… We have great fans. They want to win. They’re passionate. This is going to be another great piece to our organization,” Canucks president Trevor Linden said to the Vancouver Sun.
Since Vancouver bounced to the fifth spot in the draft lottery, much of the “who” discussions around that future draft pick have been dominated by the names Pierre-Luc Dubois and Matthew Tkachuk.
So of these two forwards, who both have enjoyed phenomenal seasons playing major junior, which one ends up a Canucks draft pick? At fifth, at least one will be still available. Or does Vancouver go off the board, per se, and choose another highly-touted prospect, say defenseman Olli Juolevi? After the big-top-three prospects this year, the draft essentially restarts. Determining who goes where from no. 4 onward is a little blurry.
Many draft rankings have Dubois at fourth and Tkachuk at fifth, but you could find rankings that would have this reversed. Some even have Juolevi ahead of both these players. It feels almost to be changing by the day, depending where you’re looking.
THN’s Draft Preview top 10: 1-Matthews 2-Laine 3-Puljujarvi 4-Tkachuk 5-Dubois 6-Juolevi 7-Nylander 8-Sergachev 9-Chychrun 10-McLeod
— Brian Costello (@bcostellothn) May 10, 2016
However you break it down, the big fish in the pond is bound to be either Dubois or Tkachuk for Vancouver. Drafting either of these players is bound to be a big reward regardless, but it also carries implications for the future of the team’s forward group.
Would Tkachuk or Dubois be a Better Fit?
That question probably wouldn’t be answered for years down the road; both players bring their own valuable facets.
Dubois is 6’3″, 203-pounds. He has a pure ability to score goals, and he uses his NHL-ready-size to be a menace on the ice. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward has been dubbed by some as the most complete player in this year’s draft. This past season in the QMJHL, Dubois was fifth in goals (42), third in points (99), tied for fifth in plus-minus (plus-40), and 12th in penalty minutes (112).
Talk about a power forward that can do it all. Worth noting as well is he can play either center or the wing, something that certainly would appeal to the Canucks.
Dubois on if #Canucks draft him : “It would be an honour, I think they are in a rebuilding phase, would be fun to help them try and win.”
— NEWS 1130 Sports (@NEWS1130Sports) May 3, 2016
Add in his 12 playoff games, and Dubois scored 49 goals in 74 total games this past season, and totaled 111 points and 126 penalty minutes. And worth mentioning is that he’s only 17-years old.
Tkachuk, meanwhile, brings about the same value to the table, but earns his bread a little differently. He can score goals, but his creative offensive game often makes him a pass-first guy. He’s 6’1″ and 194-pounds – certainly not lacking in size. He plays an in-your-face, agitating game to boot, and racked up 118 total penalty minutes in 74 games (regular season and playoffs).
The 18-year-old Tkachuk has had a massive offensive season for the London Knights, finishing the regular season tied for second in assists (77), fifth in points (107), and tied for fourth in plus-minus (plus-45). And it’s hard not to notice, fans and NHL scouts included, what he’s done in the OHL playoffs – leading all players with 20 goals and totaling 40 points in 18 games, as well as posting a plus-23 rating.
The OHL’s stats go back to the 1998 playoffs. In almost 20 years, one draft-eligible player has scored more than Tkachuk: McDavid.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) May 8, 2016
The son of former NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk probably isn’t as concerned yet about the upcoming NHL draft as some of his counterparts. Matthew’s Knights team won the OHL Championship on Wednesday night, and he’ll have the Memorial Cup to compete for in late May.
The winger Tkachuk has been slightly overlooked in the sense that he’s had incredible talent to play with on a line all season. In London, it’s been the 2015 fourth overall pick, Mitch Marner, as well as OHL-scoring champion, Christian Dvorak. In the World Juniors for team USA, it was projected no. 1 pick Auston Matthews who he got to skate with. But what can’t be denied is his work ethic which has led to his huge numbers, nor his ability to perform in meaningful hockey games.
Lots to take in, isn’t it? For the Canucks at this point, though, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. And the upside is equal, evidently, among potential draft picks Dubois or Tkachuk.
There’s certainly no losing out for what results of the Canucks first round pick, and for that reason it’s hard to make out which player would be a better fit in the long run. It’s a good time to dream about the potential for a Tkachuk – Bo Horvat – Jake Virtanen line, or a Dubois – Jared McCann – Brock Boeser unit, or any of the likes.
The always-straight-forward Canucks general manager Jim Benning has made it apparent that Dubois or Tkachuk are the team’s most realistic draft options. No matter how the moons align on draft day, there’s lots to like about the Canucks’ chances to draft the next-best-thing with this year’s first round pick.
— Colton Davies (@ColtonnDavies) May 11, 2016
Canucks contributor for The Hockey Writers. Maple Ridge, BC native. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or @ColtonnDavies on Twitter.