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.
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.
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.Tags: 2013 NHL Entry Draft, NHL draft, Prospects