It was a busy week in Sunrise for the mighty Lord Bennington and his knights (scouts). There was much speculation going into draft weekend that we were looking to make sweeping changes to the roster... What did they manage to accomplish?
It was much publicized that we wanted to add picks and there were no real limitations to what Trader Jim would consider to make this happen.
The first major rumor coming out of South Florida was that the Canucks were looking to acquire local product Milan Lucic from the Bruins. We never really heard any details about how far those discussions went, but Looch ended up taking his d-baggery to Los Angeles. This idea was met with great debate here. The kings definitely gave up a lot here for a guy who's in a contract year... Probably for the best that we didn't pursue this trade!
Shortly thereafter the Flames dealt the pick acquired from us in the Sven Baertschi deal to Boston (along with an additional 1st and 2nd) for the up and coming Dougie Hamilton. Benning dipped his toes in the water on Hamilton, but found the price was out of their range. Calgary had the assets to make this happen and took advantage of a cap-strapped Boston team. This gave the Bruins first round picks 13, 14, and 15 which resulted in a historic moment. No team in the modern era had held 3 consecutive picks in the first round... In my opinion, the Bruins were trying to make another deal to move up in the draft, but were unable to and ended up taking a couple of prospects way earlier than necessary. The beantowners had some great things to say about all of the Bruins transactions... Or something!
Then there's NCAA player Patrick McNally (2010 4th round pick) who we announced our disinterest in signing which meant that he was set to become a UFA in July. He's had some injuries throughout his time with Harvard... This wasn't really noteworthy until the Canucks decided to ship his rights to the San Jose Sharks for a 7th round pick. Not a big deal, but it did help us gain a pick.
Speaking of San Jose, the Sharks and Canucks were rumored to be discussing a trade that would send Kevin Bieksa to the Sharks for a second round pick. This deal got pretty close to completion (a contract extension was even rumored to be done with KB3), but the Sharks and Canucks did not see eye to eye on the year of the pick. Lot's of chatter here at NM about this potential deal.
On top of all of this, there was much ado about goaltenders. Lack or Markstrom, which one of the Swedes was staying and which one was heading out of town. We waited all night on Friday waiting impatiently for this deal to come out, hoping that the return would be larger than our wildest dreams could imagine. We would have to wait until Saturday for this to transpire.
With all of these things floating around, it was almost sensory overload to have the draft going on as well! The top 5 picks went in order with the top 12 picks more or less being in the expected range. When the Dallas Stars took Russian prospect Denis Gurianov it was as though someone put the prospects' names in a lottery ball hopper and players were drawn at random for the remainder of the first round. This speaks to the depth of this draft more than anything, but it definitely made everyone who put out a mock draft look like a fool.
After waiting for an eternity (or 2 hours), the Canucks stepped up to the podium and selected Brock Boeser from the USHL. For the most part our fans were indifferent to okay with this pick because there were so many great players sliding down the draft. Regardless, he's our guy!
As discussed above, the goalie conundrum was front of mind for all Canucks fans. We didn't have to wait long as we sent fan favorite Eddie 'taco' Lack to Carolina for the #66 pick and a 2016 7th round pick.
Unfortunately Benning was unable to move into the second round which resulted in our second selection to be the recently acquired #66. We used this pick to select Acadie-Bathurst Captain Guillaume Brisebois. The left handed defenseman spent the spring playing for Canada's U18 team after his QMJHL team finished the regular season in last place thus making him available to play internationally.
The fourth round continued to see highly regarded prospects coming off the board including #43 ranked North American skater Parker Wotherspoon, #43 Nicholas Roy, and #4 ranked European skater Michael Spacek, When our GM made his selection he went to Russia to take the 61st highest ranked European skater in Dmitri Zhukenov. Benning was quoted as saying that he sees a lot of Pavel Datsyuk in his game. This is the kind of swing for the fences draft picks that can really define a GM's draft success.
In the fifth round we went back to Quebec to select another defenseman with the first of our two selections. Carl Neill's name was called with pick #144. Neill eligible but not selected in the 2014 draft and re-entered the draft this year after having a solid season with the Phoenix putting up 40 points in 63 games. Neill attended the Flames rookie camp last year where he was diagnosed with an irregular heart beat. Fear not Nucks fans, he had it addressed last off-season. He's also not afraid to throw down when necessary, even if he loses as often as he wins.
With our second pick in round 5, the scouts went back to the USHL and selected Adam Gaudette from the Cedar Rapid RoughRiders. SBN has a great piece on the Minnesota native here. Gaudette isn't afraid of being in front of the net and scoring the dirty goals, plays good 2 way hockey, plays a pro-style game, and has a good frame to grow into. He's likely going to spend the next 4 years at Northeastern before turning pro which means that he's a prospect who is probably not going to be considered for NHL duty until the 2020 or 2021 season at the earliest.
Round six provided us with another home run swing! This time we decided to head over to the Czech league and take one of the youngest players available in Lukas Jasek. In Lou We Trust has a pretty good synopsis on the enigma that is Jasek. The upside on Lukas is his talent, the downside is his drive... These prospects either pan out as superstars or never even make the radar. Let's hope he's the next Pavol Demitra (RIP) and not the next Sergei Shirokov.
The player selected with the 210th pick (2nd last of the day) acquired in the Patrick McNally deal, we finally drafted a WHL player in Prince George Cougars defenseman Tate Olson. Olson is a player who possesses solid hockey skills although his hockey sense has been put into question on more than one scouting review. Let's be honest, in the 7th round players are always going to have question marks. Otherwise they'd be ranked much higher!
Olson probably most recognized for being the recipient of this hit...
Here's what GMJB had to say about our draft afterwards:
There you have it folks, our 2015 draft in 1300 words or less!