Canucks 2010 draft review

By Kyle West

The Vancouver Canucks came to the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with six picks and left with five selections and a new top-pairing defenseman.

Having already traded their second round pick to Buffalo in exchange for RW Steve Bernier in a 2008 deal, and the 3rd round pick to Carolina for D Andrew Alberts in 2010, the Canucks made a trade with the Florida Panthers for their first round selection. Vancouver announced they would trade their 25th overall selection to Florida, along with Bernier and prospect Michael Grabner, for Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard and prospect Victor Oreskovich, but only on the condition the player they wanted was not available at 25th overall.

The tense wait for the players involved finally ended with the 22nd selection, when the Montreal Canadiens traded up to select behemoth defenseman Jarred Tinordi, the player Canucks scouting staff were targeting. With the deal confirmed, Vancouver fans had to wait till the 4th round to hear their team’s first selection.

Having missed out on Tinordi, Canucks staff did bag three other defenseman on the day to address the organization’s perceived weakness. A Finnish goalie and a skilled center completed the draft day haul for the Canucks.

Patrick McNally, D – Milton Academy (USHS)
4th round-115th overall
6’2 180 lbs

With their first pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, the Canucks selected Prep School Defenseman of the Year Patrick McNally. A puck-mover with great skating ability, McNally is also a top student and has committed to Harvard University in 2011. Playing for Milton Academy this past season, he tallied 35 points in 28 games and played in all situations.

The Long Island native is the son of a former pro football player and models his game on smooth-skating offensive catalyst Mark Streit. Although drafted by the Indiana Ice of the USHL, McNally is leaning towards another year with his prep school in order to better focus on his academics.

During the summer months he works out with skills coach Alexei Nikiforov, the off-season coach for Alexei Kovalev and Matt Gilroy. If McNally can learn to run a power play as smoothly as either of those players, the Canucks will be more than pleased with this selection.

Adam Polasek, D – PEI Rocket (QMJHL)
5th round-145th overall
6’3 190 lbs

A first round selection in the 2009 CHL Import Draft, Czech defenseman Adam Polasek did not disappoint in his first season on North American ice. A tall and strong player, Polasek does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game, finishing his checks with authority and clearing the crease with enthusiasm.

It is Polasek’s offensive upside that has scouts most excited however. His hard and accurate shot netted him 13 goals this season and he has shown good vision and composure with his passing. On the Czech national team he has played more of a shutdown role, opposing the other team’s best players, but at the upcoming World Junior Championships may take on more of an offensive role.

After another year in the QMJHL to develop his all-around game, the Canucks will look to test his skills in a professional setting.

Alex Friesen, C – Niagara Ice Dog (OHL)
6th round, 172nd overall
5’10 190 lbs

A hometown star with Niagara, Alex Friesen was one of many smaller sized prospects with high compete levels who highlighted the 2010 draft. Once considered too small for the professional game, players like Jeff Skinner, Joey Hishon and Jaden Schwartz were all first round selections in 2010 despite not being able to reach the 5’11 height mark.

Friesen is among that group of players who could benefit from the post-lockout rule changes in the NHL that have opened up the game for smaller forwards, but he will need to continue to improve his foot speed and quickness.

Producing at a point per game for the Ice Dogs, with 23 goals and 37 assists in 60 games, Friesen added a goal and six assists in five playoff games.

Jonathan Iilahti, G – Blues Jr. (FIN)
6th round, 175th overall
6’0 170 lbs

Under the scouting radar until the World U-18 tournament, Jonathon Iilahti caught the eye with a dazzling performance after being promoted to the starter’s job due to injury. Slated for a spot on the bench behind Finland’s number one tender Sami Aittokallio (COL), he seized his opportunity when Aittokallio was injured just prior to the tournament.

Backstopping the Finns to the final he caught the eye with his agility and lateral quickness. He shows great competitive fire and intense concentration and scouts love his will to succeed. During the World U-18, Iilahti posted a 2.79 goals against average and a .893 save percentage.

Playing only 14 games for the Blues Jr. team last year, he will contend to represent Finland at the World Junior Championships this coming season and will be in line for more action at club level.

This pick was acquired in the 2010 Mathieu Schneider trade with Phoenix.

Sawyer Hannay, D – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
7th round, 205th overall
6’4 190 lbs

A tough defenseman from New Brunswick, Sawyer Hannay had a shutdown role on a team that struggled to shut anyone down all season. Playing for one of the worst teams in the entire CHL, Hannay ended the season with a horrible rating of minus-17, but with a respectable 16 fights and 158 penalty minutes. The frustration of losing every night certainly must have contributed to his eagerness to drop the gloves, but Hannay has the look of a player who genuinely likes to scrap.

Not much offensive upside with this prospect but he has the size and toughness to become a bottom-pairing defenseman who will stick up for his teammates and make life difficult for opposing forwards.