Besides a surprise trade or two and the
potential need for a conclusion to the Roberto Luongo saga, there isn't too much excitement surrounding Vancouver's role at the draft. They pick 24th in the first round and then sit on their hands until the 85th pick in the 3rd round after moving its second rounder (along with Kevin Connauton) to Dallas in exchange for Derek Roy at the deadline.
The SBN uberlords cracked the whip and demanded to know who Vancouver should take at 24th, following in the long tradition of other notable souls Vancouver has taken at 24th including Rob Murphy (1987) and...well, just Rob Murphy. But what a guy!
Much like the current roster, Vancouver's prospects are strongest from the net on out. With the recent addition of Joacim Eriksson joining Eddie Lack and Joe Cannata, Vancouver has some great assets in net, something to consider when the cap crunch likely forces Lack into the back-up role come next preseason. Cannata himself is a sixth rounder, so don't be surprised if the brass nabs another netminder prospect in the deeper rounds.
On defense Frank Corrado's quick development made the aforementioned Connauton expendable whereas Patrick McNally, Yann Sauve, Adam Polasek and Henrik Tommernes round out the other notables. Sauve appears to be the closest to NHL caliber, but there's still some solid assets here. As they have in recent rounds I expect some blueliners to be scooped up in the middle rounds.
On right wing all eyes on are on Nicklas Jensen to make the roster in the fall whereas we hope to see the next development step for Alexandre Grenier, Anton Rodin and Kellan Tochkin. Rodin, especially, is coming close to his make or break moment.
That leaves some holes at center (shocker!) and on left wing. Once you move away from Jordan Schroeder and Brendan Gaunce down the middle, it gets thin quickly with guys like Joseph Labate, Alexandre Mallet and Stefan Schneider not ready for prime time. Also I'm obligated to mention Prab Rai here because it's the only time of the year I can type that name and dream of good things before reality kicks me in the groin. It's even worse on the left wing where speedster Bill Sweatt is the only real asset of note; Darren Archibald, Steven Anthony and Ludwig Blomstrand remain too green to expect any notable impact for the parent club.
Obviously the notables at the top of the draft will be gone by the time Gillis strolls up to the podium. So when the YC takes control of fake Gillis and Torts (GilTort? TortIs?!), I'm eyeing an upgrade the two weak spots and - by many current projections - a beauty may fall into our lap.
Ladies and gentlemen, join me in swooning over fake Canucks first round pick LW Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL). The 6' 1" 195lb winger forward from New Haven, CT. has played in Quebec City the past two years under one Patrick Roy. He's scored 28 goals each of his last two seasons and, before the Q, has played in the United States Hockey League and represented the United States at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial under-18 tournament. Boxcar glory is all here.
Now let's gaze into the crystal ball:
"He's got a good offensive game, can contribute and put up numbers, but he'll battle and play physical when needed and that's what excites the scouts," NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said.
A power forward by nature, this kid is more than willing to drive the net with wide lane speed. Erne is fearless crashing the net. While he’s better-known for scoring goals, he has the ability to make plays too. - Trent Klatt (!)
If your team is looking for a hard-nosed forward at the draft, Adam Erne may fit the bill. He doesn’t have overwhelming size, but the stocky winger is physically mature and will be NHL ready sooner than later. Erne is a player who won’t shy away from the dirty areas on the ice and is always willing to initiate contact and play in traffic. - The Scouting Report
Erne is the prototypical power forward who plays with a snarl and nastiness to his game. He loves to get engaged physically and won’t hesitate to lay out an opponent in open ice or along the wall. Erne also possesses the soft hands to score goals which, coupled with his willingness to drive the net, makes him a very dangerous player from the slot. His skating isn’t necessarily an asset or a downfall at this point. He’s a difficult player to play against and makes the other team take notice of where he is on the ice at all times. - Sportsnet
A fleet-footed power forward, Erne blows by, or more often, right through defenders as he drives to the net. Though he plays a hard-nosed game, he also has soft hands and a blistering shot that he's able to fire off quickly. Blending offensive skill and physical prowess, Erne's multi-faceted style means he could fill many roles at the pro level. Some of that will depend on his consistency as he continues to develop. - Hockey's Future
Erne features the ideal power forward style that NHL teams love, as his high-end north/south game is coupled with good skill. His best attribute is his skating; he frequently bursts through the neutral zone, drawing penalties, creating chances, and downright embarrassing defensemen with his speed and acceleration. His willingness to drive to the net combined with his strength are deadly when combined with his speed. One scout described him as a "horse" in terms of his raw physical attributes. Erne's hands are pretty good, and he can control the puck well in full flight. Creativity and playmaking are not his specialty, but his finishing ranks as above average. - Hockey Prospectus
Here's a slightly less glowing review, but better to be honest about his potential by comparison with others:
Adam Deadmarsh was an excellent player, but the rest of the group ranges from useful third line piece to complete bust. Even among the players drafted in 2009 or later, there's no single prospect that I look at and think he's likely to be a top line talent. The fact that Erne didn't improve all that much from his 2011-12 season (his adjusted offense increased by 31%) further suggests that this is his actual level of ability and that a huge step forward is unlikely.
So what is there for hope? Well, the actual skill set that Erne has seems to lend itself well to a physical third line forward, so you can at least see him filling the role well. It's not the kind of projection I'd be excited about with a top-twenty pick, but if Erne falls into the last third of the first round, I think he's probably a decent bet. - Copper N Blue
Lastly - by dumb luck or brilliant analysis - Hockey's Future's mock draft had Erne going to Vancouver as well. For the record we picked him prior to that publication and I have the emails and blood oaths to prove it. At any rate:
Adam Erne is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks organization needs at this time – a budding power forward that has some wheels. He loves to hit and has demonstrated from a young age that he is very successful playing that style. There is little denying that his multifaceted, all-around game with some physical flare is just what the doctor ordered for Vancouver. If he continues to grow his game as he has every step of the way in his career thus far, Erne could be a top-six fixture for the Canucks for a long time.
Erne is slated to go anywhere from the low teens to the second round, but as far as LW'ers dubbed with the potential of a power forward go, he's one of the few worthy of taking a shot at. A bruising top six option down the road would be great. Granted he could also become another Brad Isbister clone, projected to be a game changer and ending up being laughed out of the league. But if Erne matures correctly the next few seasons, he could be a key face in the Canucks evolution.
After watching the bruising Cup Final and hearing Torts say the team needs some "bite", this kid drops right in the sweet spot.
Kneel before Erne.