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Title - Shaun Maddex
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Vancouver Canucks Draft Watch
By Shaun Maddex
HometownHockey.ca

Vancouver Canucks Draft Watch
The Vancouver Canucks hold the 6th spot in the upcoming draft, which means they will be getting a good young prospect. But what is the best case scenario for Vancouver?
PHOTO CREDIT - allaboutthehabs.ca

Edmonton - June 6, 2014 - The Vancouver Canucks hold the 6th overall pick in this year’s draft, meaning for the first time in years they will be adding a high end prospect to their team. The bonus of this year’s draft could be that there is no set in stone elite guy. Rather there is a group of players that are considered “high end”. For Vancouver this is a huge positive because sitting 6th overall should mean they will get a very capable player.

Almost all the Scouting Reports have been released at this point, save for the “Master list” from Bob Mckenzie. I say the master list because Mckenzie always seems to be very close to accurate, especially at the top of the draft. For now though, we are working off the lists from Craig Button, Corey Pronman, and the ISS. I chose these three lists because I believe they are the most comprehensive, and in line with how NHL teams will be drafting in Philly. Of course every single team has different needs, metrics, scouting reports, and opinions on players. These lists are simply rankings of the players in the draft based on what the list makers have seen/heard/evaluated. They do not purport to lay out how the draft will turn out, but simply provide baseline measurements and rankings. So who could Vancouver wind up with in these scenarios, and what should Canuck fans hope comes from the June 27 event?

Craig Buttons #6 (tsn.ca)

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

Nikolaj is a dynamic player who - while not being really big - plays big and is elusive. A very quick player, he is able to see opportunities and take advantage. He is equally adept at finishing plays as he is making them. (Craig Button) Ehlers is an interesting prospect, listed at 6’0 and 162 lb. The dynamic winger scored 104 points in 63 games this past season in the QMJHL playing alongside Jonathan Drouin with the Halifax Mooseheads. Ehlers is touted as the fastest player in the draft. The problem with speedsters is that they sometimes have feet that move faster than hands (see Todd Marchant, Andrew Cogliano), and as a result their offensive acumen is not as elite. That doesn’t appear to be the case with Ehlers. He has great playmaking abilities, and has the hands to go alongside with his speed. He uses his speed to blow by defenders and create scoring chances, and most importantly has the ability to finish. One concern of course is how much of his scoring and offensive production was due to being on the same team as the incredible Jonathan Drouin. Though this doesn’t seem to be a concern for many, and since I don’t have data on how much of his ice time came alongside Drouin, I can only go based on what scouts are saying.

Ehlers is not a guy that will make the team next season. As with most young dynamic players he needs to work on his defensive game, as well as his strength. But with his speed and offensive acumen, it would be hard for the Canucks to pass up on this player. In a couple of seasons he could inject the Canucks with a combination of elite level speed and a high capability to score and put up points. If he continues to improve his all-around game he could also become a great penalty killer.

Corey Pronmans #6 (espn.com)

Kevin Fiala, RW, HV-71, Sweden

Fiala is an interesting prospect, listed at 5’10, 195 lb. Fiala was born in Switzerland and has since taken his services to Sweden where he scored 25 points in 27 games. Fiala is rated higher by Pronman then any other list I’ve seen. Fiala is touted for his creativity with the puck, high level speed, and his ability to rise up against the physical play of opponents. He brings the physicality back at opponents, and never backs down. This is a positive for the Canucks as they are in a division with the not so soft Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Fiala is a bit of enigma though, as his exact potential is all over the map. He is a high risk high reward type player, by no means is he a safe bet. For the Canucks this is likely not the direction they want to go with their first high draft pick in recent years. Solidifying the team with a safer bet is probably a better decision at this point.

"A high risk/high reward prospect, projections on Fiala range from him becoming a Patrick Kane-type scorer to a player who puts up big numbers in Europe his entire career; never skating in the NHL." (Hockey’s Future)

ISS #6 (isshockey.com)

Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL

This would be a best case scenario for the Canucks. Draisaitl is not likely to drop to #6, but if he did the Canucks would be getting a very solid player. Born in Germany and listed at 6’2, 208 lb. Draisaitl is a behemoth of a young man. Draisaitl came over to Prince Albert and has been making great strides as a prospect. This past season he scored 105 points in 64 games in the WHL and was the driving force in Prince Albert all season long. He followed up his season with a decent performance at the World Hockey Championships for Germany where he scored 4 points in 7 games playing against grown men for the first time. Draisaitl is a great combination of size and skill, and has been compared to Anze Kopitar. He has worked hard on his defensive game, and is mature enough to understand that he has lots of room to grow in that area. His calmness with the puck helps him slow the game down and gives him some control in the offensive zone. He uses his body to protect the puck, but he needs to work on his acceleration. His top-end speed isn’t great, but it is not a detriment either.

Draisaitl has the advantage of being more physically mature then others at the top of the draft, which means he could conceivably be NHL ready sooner rather than later. The strongest part of his game may be his ability to slow the game down and use his vision with the puck to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He is not an overtly physical player despite his big frame, but he is strong on the puck and knows how to use his size effectively down low. This is a huge positive, and as he continues to develop his defensive game and first step speed, he will become more and more effective as a player. Unfortunately for Vancouver the odds of Draisaitl being there at 6th overall seems pretty low, especially with the Oilers picking 3rd overall and desperately needing a player of this type. But crazy things happen on the draft floor, and the Canucks would be thrilled if Draisaitl fell to them at 6.

"He plays a big, power forward-style of game," Central Scouting's B.J. Macdonald said. "He goes to the net and the opposition has a hard time stopping him from getting there. He's a big presence in front of the goal and skates well with deceptive speed. He can shoot the puck and overpower goalies with it. I like his style and attitude; he has a lot of upside" (NHL.com)

My Pick at #6

Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals, OHL

Dal Colle has seen his stock rise recently, and has been considered as high as #4 by some reports. Dal Colle is listed at #5 by Button, #3 by ISS and #8 by Pronman. So he is all over the map in terms of projections. Dal Colle scored 95 points in 67 games this past season, and was a mainstay on the PK for Oshawa. Dal Colle plays a power game, with 2-way ability, and is very aggressive on the puck. He relishes the 200 foot game, which makes him different from the rest of the top prospects who all are considered dynamic offensively with room to grow defensively. Dal Colle has the wherewithal to have already begun focusing on his overall game, and this will serve him well as he continues to develop.

Dal Colle has room to grow physically, and needs to work on his speed, as with all prospects. The change in pace between Major Junior and the NHL is huge and it takes time to acclimate. He is a very promising player though, and with his commitment to both offence and defence, he could become the most valuable player in this year’s draft. He projects as a top 6 player, and if he can translate his 2-way play to the pros without sacrificing offence, he could be a first line player down the road. The Canucks have a very real chance of getting Dal Colle and if he is there at #6, the Canucks will likely be giddy as they announce his name from the podium.

"I'm an offensive-minded player, but I take pride in my defensive play," he said. "Obviously there's no offence without defence. I think I've been able to get off to a strong start offensively and I've been able to develop great chemistry with the guys. I consider myself a two-way player. (Michael Dal Colle)

My fellow Hometown Hockey writer Benjamin Botterill wrote a great piece about the Flames and Michael Dal Colle here, lets just say the Canucks are hoping Burke and Co. have a different opinion!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to let me know on twitter @maddex19 and Facebook who you are hoping the Canucks walk away with from the draft, what’s your best case scenario?

Follow Me on TwitterShaun Maddex has a passion for playing, watching, and analyzing hockey. Growing up in small towns throughout Alberta meant always playing or watching hockey. He has experience as an editor/columnist for Vavel International and enjoys analyzing all aspects of hockey. He brings a straightforward but insightful experience to the Hometown Hockey readers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at smaddex@hometownhockey.ca







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