The Canucks are drafting 3rd overall. Brian Burke and his scouting staff have an opportunity to salvage a lot with one draft pick.
The guy picked by the Canucks will be expected to be either a 1st line star winger or a 1st line star center, as soon as possible. A tough task, no doubt, but the 5 top guys definitely have the ability to overcome it.
The needs are many, the chances to fill those needs are few.
-a top 2 center w
However, the Canucks defense, while not having an offensive stud, is actually pretty solid. Aucoin, Jovanovski, Ohlund and McCabe are a very capable top 4, and then you have the ever improving Jason Strudwick at 5 (who will probably be lost in the Expansion Draft unfortunately) and Murray Baron. The guy who will probably end up filling Strudwick’s shoes next season is last years #4 overall pick, Bryan Allen. If his knees don’t go out on him, he has a shot at becoming solid. Thus, defense is not a need. That leaves goaltending and offensive forwards as the 2 major holes in the roster. Goaltending probably won’t be taken care of in this draft, until the 3rd round at least. Offensive forwards (particularly centers) are another matter altogether. The top 5-10 of this draft is stacked with potential offensive stars…and the Canucks are lucky/cursed enough to be able to chose from the cream of the crop. Unless Burke trades down, Canuck fans can look forward to a cherubic new forward in the lineup next season, carrying the hopes of the franchise on his shoulders.
Draft strategy for the Canucks could be quite intriguing…it is widely known that the Sedins would REALLY like to play together in the NHL…in fact, that is one of the concerns about them (how they will react apart from each other). It could conceivably be very beneficial to whatever team drafts Daniel (almost certain to be taken ahead of Henrik) to break the bank and get Henrik in a side deal. The Canucks are a possible destination for the twins. The Canucks are very unhappy with Alex Mogilny (who I think gets a bum rap, and would actually be the perfect RW for the brothers), and now that the Canucks finally have a defense worth putting on the ice, the rumours of Milbury-esque “young defenseman for offensive help” trades are abundant. If the Canucks can snag Daniel at #3 overall, look for them to make a HUGE push to get the #4 pick from Chicago. Chicago is already loaded with good young players, and may be looking for some more veteran influence. The names that would be going to Chi-town? Alex Mogilny and Adrian Aucoin.
The Canucks will take one of: Patrik Stefan, Pavel Brendl, and Daniel Sedin. Brendl will most likely be gone, and it’s murky as to whether Stefan’s agent will let him be looked at by any NHL team…so he could slide to #3, which I think would please the Canucks brass (unless they already have a deal worked out with Chicago to snatch both Sedin’s). The biggest need for the Canucks, one that has seemingly existed since the beginning of time, is that of having a large and talented first line center, who can actually dominate a game. Out of the top 5 “interest list”, Henrik Sedin is perhaps the safest center to choose. He’s big, skilled, and technically sound in all areas of the game. Stefan has a much larger upside however. If not for his multiple concussions, Stefan would probably go first overall. He has size, quickness and a ton of skill, but while the upside is great, the risk due to multiple concussions is great as well. Kristopher Beech, who is underrated by the CSB, has size (but has yet to fill out), is a strong skater, and has a lot of skill. He was playing behind the Dodginghorse-Moran-Brendl line in Calgary, and lost a lot of quality ice-time because of that, and his stats were still pretty good. The Canucks can’t go wrong with any of these 5 players. It’s more the “degree of success” that each will have that will determine the intelligence of the choice (though Stefan’s head problems are a major wildcard).
The Canucks really can’t go wrong in this draft, unless they make a risky move in trading down, or they draft Stefan without being sure he is physically and neurological right. Things should improve next season for Canuck fans, offensively at least, as Stefan, Brendl and the Sedin Bros. are all ready for immediate duty.