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Arvid Costmar: A diamond-in-the-rough?

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Canucks’ 2019 last round pick blossoming in Sweden’s SuperElit Junior League

Arvid Costmar

When a team drafts a player in the last round of the NHL Entry Draft, they are searching for an uncut diamond lost within hundreds of lumps of coal. Rarely do they find a special player who turns out to be a diamond-in-the-rough.

Arvid Costmar may become one of those rare golden tickets found in a Wonka bar. The Vancouver Canucks chose him in the seventh and final round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He was the 215th player selected, third-last in the entire draft.

Since 2005, the NHL Draft has been comprised of seven rounds. Ironically, in 2004 the final year of the nine-round draft, the Canucks made their best ever last round selection. The Honey Badger, Jannik Hansen, went on to play 626 NHL regular season games plus 70 playoff games. He was a key support cog in the Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup run to the Finals. He had career highs of 22 goals and 38 points in 2015-16 and played hard every shift with his motor on high.

From 1970, when the NHL Amateur draft (now called the Entry Draft) was invented, through to 2003, the year before their choice of the Danish ratel, the Canucks did not select any other players of substance with their final pick in the draft. In fact only three of their last round choices have played games in the NHL in double digits.

Center Grant Martin taken by the Canucks in 1980 played 44 games with only 24 of them for Vancouver and never bent-the-twine but did have 4 assists. 1983 choice right winger Jay Mazur suited up for 47 games all in a Vancouver uniform and amassed 11 goals and 18 points. Russian forward and reported voracious-eater Vladimir Krutov picked in 1986 managed to chew up 64 games in his one season as a Canuck during the 1989-90 season depositing 11 goals in opposition nets and adding 23 helpers to his tally.

The Canucks’ final round picks have not improved since the successful Scandinavian marsupial was tapped on his shoulder in 2004. Apart from 2005 selection Mario Bliznak, who suited up for six games in the blue-and-green, no other last round selections have even suited up.

The names on the long list of NHL failures since Bliznak include Evan Fuller, Dan Gendur, Morgan Clark (son of Vancouver’s goalie coach Ian Clark), Steven Anthony, Sawyer Hannay, Henrik Tommernes, Matthew Beattie, Miles Liberati, Mackenze Stewart, Tate Olson, Brett McKenzie and Matt Brassard. Only 2018 last round pick goalie Matthew Thiessen has not had his NHL epitaph written yet.

So why might Arvid Costmar beat the long odds of Canucks’ history? Other organizations have pulled out the occasional gem at the very bottom of the draft over the decades (Tim Thomas, Steve Sullivan, Evgeni Nabokov, Sergei Nemchinov, Craig Adams, Tomas Vokoun to name just a few). Even now last round picks are playing useful minutes in the NHL (Markus Nutivaara, Victor Olofsson, Ondrej Kase, Andreas Johnsson, Mackenzie Weegar, Frederik Andersen, Joakim Ryan, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Dzingel and a lot more). Costmar may beat the odds because he is a very talented offensive player with a decent pedigree.

He has been consistently picked to play on Sweden’s national junior teams since he was a young teenager. This year he played alongside fellow Canucks’ Swedish prospect Nils Hoglander at the U20 Parm WJC evaluation tournament in August. The participants also included Vancouver’s blue-chip forward prospect Vasily Podkolzin.

Like his Canadian peer prospects Jett Woo and Carson Focht, he was not selected to attend a WJC pre-tournament camp this month. But, if he continues to be one of the top players in the Swedish SuperElit junior league this season for Linkoping’s U20 team and becomes a regular player on Linkoping’s SHL club (they are at risk though of relegation to the lesser Allsvenskan league next season), the 18-year-old center may very well be on Sweden’s WJC U20 squad next season.

He started this season by tearing up the SuperElit league going 6-5-11 in his first eight games of the season. He was then called up to the SHL squad and tallied one assist in his first of two games for them. On his first shift of his third game, he suffered a concussion. He was out for a couple of weeks and when he returned he started playing again in the junior league. He struggled to get on the scoresheet initially, but he has now fully recovered from his concussion and is putting up some nice numbers. He currently has lit-the-lamp 10 times and has added 12 apples with a +11 rating for 22 points in 15 SuperElit league games this season.

During his brief stint in the SHL earlier this season he also revealed his versatility and played both wings in addition to his usual center position.

The Canucks are flush with so many legitimate potential NHL prospects in their pipeline that you can overlook the ones taken at the very bottom of the draft. Given the Canucks historically poor record in the last round of drafts, odds are Arvid Costmar never plays an NHL game. That said, I think he has a real chance to become only the second Vancouver last round pick in franchise history to have an impact on the big team. I recommend you keep an eye on him.