Seven players who the Canucks may select with the 24th pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft

Artturi Lehkonen, potential future Canuck.

The Stanley Cup Final isn’t even over yet and we’re already just one week away from the 2013 NHL entry draft. Thanks to the lockout, the NHL’s off-season schedule has been pushed back and condensed just like the season itself. If the Final goes to seven games, the General Managers of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will have just three days in-between the end of the playoffs and the start of the draft.

Mike Gillis, on the other hand, has had a lot more time to consider the draft, even while interviewing head coaching candidates and shopping around Roberto Luongo. Unfortunately, the Canucks’ ouster in round one combined with winning the Northwest Division left the team with the 24th overall pick in the first round.

Thankfully, the 2013 draft is expected to be a very good one, with many suggesting that it will compare favourably to the 2003 draft, which is considered to be one of the best of all time. The Canucks nabbed Ryan Kesler with the 23rd pick in the first round in 2003; will the 24th pick in 2013 give them a player of the same calibre as Kesler?

I dug into the draft rankings from several respected sources to see who might be available to the Canucks at and around the 24th pick this year.

Anthony Mantha – left wing
Ranked 24th overall by ISS, McKeen’s Hockey, and The Hockey News

Both International Scouting Services and The Hockey News have Val-d’Or forward Anthony Mantha ranked at 24th overall. Mantha is a highly-skilled 6’4″ forward who is one of only three players to score 50 goals in major junior this past season, tallying exactly that amount in 67 games. That kind of high-end finishing ability would normally see a player ranked a lot higher, particularly with Mantha’s size and skating, but there are some doubts about his desire and physical game, with Future Considerations noting that there are concerns over his consistency.

Corey Pronman, who has Mantha ranked 22nd overall, notes that Mantha “could use some work defensively,” but is also an intelligent player who can make plays and pass the puck well.

Artturi Lehkonen – left wing
Ranked 24th overall by Corey Pronman and Derek Zona’s consensus draft rankings

Lehkonen played against men in Finland’s top league last season, recording 30 points in 45 games, finishing second behind expected top-five pick Aleksander Barkov in scoring among draft-eligible prospects. He’s described as an “all-around offensive talent” by Pronman and The Hockey News, who had him ranked all the way at 36th, quoted a scout describing him as “smart, [with] great offensive timing and he reads the play well.”

His slight build at 159 lbs is likely what knocked him out of the top-30 in most rankings. Only Craig Button also considered him a first round pick among rankings I looked at, placing him 23rd. Button compared him to Patrick Elias and noted his speed and determination. The Hockey News also noted that “he isn’t afraid to go into the corners despite his slender frame.”

Robert Hägg – defence
Ranked 24th overall by Future Considerations

Hägg appears to be a fairly typical Swedish defenceman: calm and composed with good size and skating. The Hockey News, who have him ranked 12th overall, quoted a scout who claimed that Hägg “passes the puck as well as NHL defensemen do now.” Future Considerations notes his intelligence and poise, with both sources noting that he’s not particularly physical despite his size.

He garnered some attention during the World Junior Championships when he helped shut down Nail Yakupov in Sweden’s semifinal win over Russia, but Corey Pronman questions his defensive ability, while praising his puck-rushing ability, passing, and point shot. Pronman has him ranked at 21st overall.

Hägg played for Markus Naslund’s MODO, spending time with both the junior team and in the Swedish Elite League, so there’s a Canucks connection there.

Madison Bowey – defence
Ranked 24th overall by Craig Button

Button isn’t the only one who thinks highly of Bowey, with ISS ranking him 22nd overall and Corey Pronman ranking him 23rd. The Hockey News, however, has him all the way down at 44th.

Bowey plays for the Kelowna Rockets, who have turned out a few great defencemen like Shea Weber and Duncan Keith. Bowey is described as a two-way defenceman who skates well, makes a great first pass, and has some offensive potential. Pronman notes his offensive skill and heavy shot, while Future Considerations praises his strength along the boards and in puck battles. Of note for Canucks fans, Bowey shoots right.

Bowey tallied 30 points in 69 games in the WHL last season, a bit of a disappointment after 21 points in 57 games in his rookie year.

Jacob De La Rose – centre
Ranked 24th overall by Ryan Kennedy

The Hockey News, who have him ranked 29th overall, describes De La Rose as a “safe player,” who is almost certain to have an NHL future as a two-way third liner. Corey Pronman notes that he can play all three forward positions and has him ranked 27th, also praising his skating, strength, and defensive play, particularly penalty killing.

Scouts appear to be split, however, on his offensive upside, with some suggesting he can be a scoring top-six forward, while others suggesting he tops out as a third-line defensive specialist. The question is whether you want to play it safe in the first round or swing for the fences. Gillis has been conservative in the first round of previous drafts, going with the consensus best player available and showing a predilection for centres with reported good two-way ability.

Morgan Klimchuk – left wing
Ranked 24th overall by The Scouting Report

Klimchuk played for a weak Regina Pats team, scoring 76 points in 72 games, with some suggesting that he could have scored a lot more on a better team. He’s described as a strong and fast two-way forward, with offensive upside, particularly on the powerplay, where he frequently played the point and distributed the puck. His intelligence, vision, and agility are also frequently mentioned in scouting reports.

Corey Pronman, who has him ranked 33rd, notes that he is undersized, but “works hard in battles and…will drive the net.”

Jason Dickinson – left wing
Ranked 24th overall by Bob McKenzie

McKenzie is frequently the most accurate with his draft rankings in terms of the order of players picked, if not the eventual talent level of said players. He has two-way forward Jason Dickinson at 24th in his mid-term rankings, though that may change when he releases his final rankings on TSN on Tuesday at 4:30.

Dickinson scored 47 points in 66 games for Guelph this season, with scouts noting that his consistency was the major problem. Corey Pronman, ranking him 39th overall, noted his speed, agility, high-end skill, creativity, and offensive instincts, with one scout saying he “has the ability to simply take over a game.” Craig Button, who ranked him 28th, noted that he has “terrific upside.”

His defensive instincts have also been praised, suggesting that when he is on his game, he could be a very good all-around player. It’s that consistency that scouts question, however, that raises doubts. One scout quoted in The Hockey News, who have him ranked 35th overall, suggested that he still needs to develop leg and core strength, saying that “he ran out of gas at times this year.”

Essentially, Dickinson is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward pick. If he develops well, he could be a first-line forward. If he doesn’t, he might make it as a defensive forward, bottom-six type of player, but might also stall out short of the NHL.

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11 comments

  1. Brian
    June 24, 2013

    Bowey sounds good to me

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    • @Jyrki21
      June 25, 2013

      “Madison Bowey” sounds like a female star of the catwalk more than a male athlete, I gotta say…

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  2. Neil B
    June 24, 2013

    I like Mantha. He’s the grandson of Andre Pronovost, a fireplug who won 5 cups with Montreal. There’s lots of hard work in his DNA, so I wouldn’t worry about his “work ethic”. He’ll learn that with more seasoning in the major juniors and the AHL.

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  3. Rituro
    June 24, 2013

    Does Hägg shoot left or right? If he’s the side we need, I’d be happy with him or Bowey as our first-rounder, followed by Mantha and Klimchuk.

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  4. Origamirock
    June 24, 2013

    Just an additional one. The Nation Network’s mock draft had Valentin Zykov at 24th. Looking at his description he isn’t a very unlikely choice (double negative warning!)

    “Valentin Zykov (QMJHL: 67GP, 40-35-75). A power winger with significant bulk for his age (he’s generally listed at either 6’ or 6’1” but 205+ pounds), Zykov is known for a willingness to go to the net with the puck, win battles along the boards, and backcheck defensively. Given that his skating gets middling marks, he’s essentially the reverse of the traditional Russian stereotype.”

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  5. Tyson
    June 25, 2013

    Mantha would rate highly on my list as a Canucks fan and I would love to see him here. I don’t think he’s the kind of player Gillis would have targeted two years ago, but Gillis needs to reassess his thinking after a few years of poor strategy based more around attitude than skill.

    As much as I would love to see Mantha dawning the orca I think it is Kerby Rychel that has the Canucks brass salivating. In all likelihood Rychel will be grabbed earlier on and if the Canucks are still looking to draft players that fall inline with their previous philosophies I think the guy we most likely see is Ryan Hartman. I think Canucks fans should dig a bit on Hartman, he could be the steal of the draft.

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  6. Kenji
    June 25, 2013

    Mantha’s press write-ups remind me of Corey Perry, who was said to be an indifferent skater of inconsistent effort with defensive holes. All he did, said the scouts, was score.

    I don’t think Mantha is going to be around at 24.

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  7. Locky
    June 26, 2013

    Bob’s rankings have Zykov and Morrisey available at our pick, either would be better than any on this particular list IMO. Especially Zykov, we should not pass on him if he is there at our pick. Rychel would also be an ideal pick if he is there. Erne or Mantha, should they drop, would also be my picks.

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  8. LS
    June 26, 2013

    Hi Daniel, excellent article. Here’s my question, what do you think of Kerby Rychel for the Canucks at 24? Do you think he’ll still be on the table? I just appreciated hearing about his work ethic, leadership qualities, and excellent defensive play. Seeing him play a few times, he never gives up on the puck. Thoughts?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 26, 2013

      Most draft rankings seem to have him at around 20-30, so he may be available, but Corey Pronman, who I put a decent amount of trust in, has him all the way down at 44, which worries me. Still, you can’t deny his point totals and his combination of skill and effort is tempting. Scouts question his skating mostly, while some have doubts about his defensive game. He’s the kind of guy that I’d prefer to pick up early-to-mid second round rather than first round, personally. I’d rather the Canucks take a chance on someone with higher upside.

      That said, I’m only going by draft rankings and scouting reports, as well as the few highlights I’ve seen. The kid can definitely shoot the puck and he may end up being a great NHLer.

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  9. LS
    June 26, 2013

    Thanks Daniel. The higher upside was a great point (though maybe not if Torts is still here :)
    Regardless, it should be exciting!

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