After making a safe pick in the first round with International Scouting Services’ top-ranked centre Brendan Gaunce, the Canucks went off the board with their second round pick, taking 20-year-old winger Alexandre Mallet from the Rimouski Océanic. Mallet wasn’t on anyone’s draft rankings because of his age and he had already passed through the draft twice.
The Canucks didn’t pick again until the fifth round and took 19-year-old defenceman Ben Hutton, who had passed through the draft once already and was ranked 200th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. Then, in the sixth round, they picked another 19-year-old, BCHL centre Wesley Myron, who was also in his second year of eligibility. Finally, in the seventh round, they picked one more 19-year-old, Matthew Beattie, who was actually ranked 108th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Picking older players in the draft is frequently frowned upon, as they usually passed through the draft for a reason, but such players might also be ready to contribute in the NHL sooner than a 17 or 18-year-old. The Canucks have picked several older players under Gillis, including Alexandre Grenier, Henrik Tommernes, and Alex Friesen. While there is plenty of risk in picking players who haven’t stood out until they are older than much of their competition, there is also the potential for finding a market inefficiency, as other teams tend to overlook such players.
Mallet led the Océanic with 34 goals in 68 games and was second on the team in points with 81. He followed up his strong regular season by scoring 11 goals and 26 points in 21 playoff games. This offensive outburst came as a complete surprise, considering he scored just 19 points in each of his previous two seasons. Fred Poulin from The Hockey Writers suggested that Mallet could be an “undrafted gem” as a classic late bloomer.
It’s tempting to compare Mallet to the much more highly-touted Tanner Pearson, who also passed through the draft twice and is just a few months younger. Pearson broke out with 91 points in 60 games for the Barrie Colts of the OHL and was the final pick of the first round, near where he was ranked by many scouts and experts. So what’s the difference between the two players that made scouts rank Pearson as a borderline first rounder and leave Mallet completely unranked?
Pearson certainly scored more in fewer games, finishing third in the OHL in scoring, where Mallet finished 13th in scoring in the QMJHL. Another difference is that Mallet is also a fighter, picking up 132 penalty minutes last season and 8 fights. Despite being rather light at 172 lbs (Editor’s note: the QMJHL website lists Mallet instead at 202 lbs) to go with his 6’1″ frame, Mallet is a tough customer judging from his Hockey Fights profile. He’ll be hard-pressed to translate that to the NHL until he bulks up, but his grit is likely part of what caught the Canucks’ attention.
Described as a power forward who “hits like a truck” and “is one of the most feared fighters in the Q,” Mallet seems like a player who will be a fourth liner at minimum in the NHL, with potential for more if he can translate his new-found scoring touch to the professional ranks.
Mallet is certainly an interesting prospect, but taking him in the second round is what will raise some eyebrows. It’s likely that he still would have been available in the third or even fourth round, but the Canucks did not have any picks in those rounds. If Gillis and the scouting staff were high on Mallet, it seems like trading down in the draft to get additional picks might have been a smart move.
The Canucks’ other picks weren’t quite as off the board as Mallet. Ben Hutton, who is heading to the University of Maine in the Fall, scored 43 points in 57 games in the CCHL, a Junior A league, and was certainly noticed by some scouts. He then led the Nepean Raiders to the CCHL championship with 13 points in 18 games. Hutton describes himself as a “puck-moving defenceman” but he also has size on his side at 6’3″, 195 lbs.
His former coach gushes with praise for Hutton: “He’s the best defenseman in our league, by far…He’s big and his puck skills and hands are off the charts. He’s a one-man forecheck breaker, he has a good shot and he’s an above-average skater. He plays 35 minutes a game and plays important minutes against the other team’s top line.”
Wesley Myron played in the Canucks’ backyard: born in Victoria, BC, he played his Junior hockey for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL and is heading to Boston University in September. Myron scored 42 points in 26 games in an injury-shortened season and won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior A Challenge. Myron was one of the most dynamic players in the BCHL, finishing 5th in the league in points-per-game, and is described by the US Hockey Report as a “polished power forward.”
At 6’2″, 190 lbs, Myron has the size Gillis is looking for and he is entering a great hockey program at Boston University. While he wasn’t ranked by ISS or Central Scouting, the Canucks reportedly showed some interest prior to the draft. Myron had no illusions, however, saying, “Not many guys go in the draft at 19.”
In the seventh round, the Canucks turned to the US High School ranks, picking Matthew Beattie of Phillips Exeter Academy, who is heading to Yale in the fall. At 6’3″ 176 lbs, Beattie will need to bulk up, but he already shows a physical edge to his game to complement his scoring touch. Beattie led Exeter in scoring with 39 goals and 74 points in 28 games. The Canucks picked another US High School player last season in the fourth round in Joseph Labate, who scored just 49 points in 25 games.
Beattie was ranked 108th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, so he didn’t fly completly under the radar. One scout put it this way: “It was almost as if he was one of those high-end beer league players and I mean that in a good way. You know the type — the guy who can do anything he wants and makes everyone else look like they’re skating in slow motion — that was how Beattie looked to me. With his size and hockey IQ, he could end up being a pretty good prospect in a few years.”
Tags: Alexandre Mallet, Ben Hutton, Matt Beattie, NHL draft, Prospects, Wes Myron