By Andrew Phillip Chernoff April 28, 2016
Canucks ownership promised “Change Is Coming” at the end of the 2014 season.
And it did:
- the addition of Trevor Linden, who played 16 seasons as a Canuck and earned the nickname “Captain Canuck”, as President of Hockey Operations for the Vancouver Canucks by team owner Francesco Aquilini on Wednesday, April 9, 2014;
- the hiring of Jim Benning on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, a former teammate of Linden, to be the Canucks 11th general manager;
- the announcement of Willie Desjardins as the 18th coach of the franchise on Monday, June 23, 2014, who led the AHL’s Texas Stars to a Calder Cup championship on Tuesday, June 17, 2014;
- the signing of goalie Ryan Miller on July 1, 2014 to a 3-year contract.
demonstrated aggressive leadership by Canucks ownership and new management to put the club right and demonstrate to the media, fans and the league, that the Canucks were prepared to be competitive, relevant and put the pieces in place to once again be one of the elite teams in the NHL.
The trading of Ryan Kesler, before the start of the 2014 NHL Draft, ensured that Kesler would not be an issue with the Canucks moving forward and the moving of Jason Garrison which freed up cap space, continued the theme of “Change Is Coming”.
This past season was a struggle, disappointing, frustrating, and it is in the past now.
The 2016 NHL Draft continues the theme of “Change Is Coming”, as the Vancouver Canucks continue to add pieces on their climb back to become one of the top teams in the NHL.
The Draft Lottery is on April 30th and Vancouver will find out where they will be slotted for their first pick of the draft.
The Vancouver Canucks can select as high as first and as low as sixth in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft June 24-25 in Buffalo.
My choices for the Canucks first pick of the 2016 NHL draft, in order of preference, are:
1)-Auston Matthews – Center
Auston Matthews is an American professional ice hockey player. Matthews is currently playing for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A. Previously, Matthews played for the U.S. National U18 Team in the USHL. Wikipedia
A high octane dynamo that thrives under the microscope, Auston Matthews is a complete offensive forward who consistently boasts quick hands, feet, and thinking at both ends of the ice. Naturally nimble skater that accelerates to top speed very quickly. An unwavering focus on fine tuning elements of his own game facilitates confidence and competence in his young, but mature, mind. Prolific goal scoring ability and doesn’t wait for opportunities to show themselves. He makes his own luck, so to speak, maximizing the use of his body and stick to gain leverage against the toughest of opponents. All-in-all, a generational talent that has the potential to develop into a top flight franchise center.
Uncle: Wes Matthews(NFL Player – external link)
2)-Matthew Tkachuk – Left Wing
Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Matthew Tkachuk is an American ice hockey player. He is currently playing with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Tkachuk is a top rated prospect who is projected to be a possible Top 5 pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Wikipedia
A multi-dimensional energy winger that plays a pro-style, adaptive game. Well-versed as a guy who can consistently put up points, but also as an agitator who plays with a little bit of bite and nastiness. Skates with excellent balance and speed, outclassing many in his age range. No lack of offensive instincts and knows how to score in many different ways. Confidence in his abilities and playing to the extent of his capabilities strengthens his work ethic and creativity. All-in-all, a unique and effective forward who defines his own limits and seeks to exceed them, along with all on-ice expectations.
Brother: Brady Tkachuk
Father: Keith Tkachuk
Cousins: Casey Fitzgerald, Ryan Fitzgerald, Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Fitzgerald, Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes
3)-Jesse Puljujärvi – Right Wing
MONTREAL, QC – DECEMBER 27: Jesse Puljujarvi #13 of Team Finland skates during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game against Team Slovakia at the Bell Centre on December 27, 2014 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Team Slovakia defeated Team Finland 2-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Jesse Puljujärvi is a Finnish ice hockey player, currently playing with Kärpät in the Finnish Liiga. Puljujärvi is rated as a top prospect who is expected to be a top 5 pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Wikipedia
Puljujärvi is a big winger who combines size, skating and skill. A strong skater who can blast past the opposition in full speed. Able to use his size, reach and stickhandling skills to retain the puck in speed. A smart player at both ends of the ice, both on and off the puck. Great work ethic and positive attitude. More of a playmaker than a scorer and could improve his shooting skills. Doesn’t shy away from physical play, but could use his size more to his benefit.
A truly dominant two-way force that consistently demonstrates elite hockey sense, proactive defensive awareness, and a full array of offensive tools. Comparable to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Puljujärvi owns a dangerously accurate shot, as well as exceptional playmaking ability that pairs up quite nicely with his superb vision and enthusiasm. Has the ability to absolutely dominate by using his size and speed to keep possession of the puck until he determines it to be the right time for the rubber to hit the back of the net. Everything that he does, he does well, to the fullest of his ability; there are no empty holes in this electrifying and hard-nosed forward’s game.
4)- Jakob Chychrun – Defenseman
Jakob Chychrun is an American-born Canadian ice hockey defenceman. He is currently an alternate captain for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. Wikipedia
An unyielding two-way defenceman, Jakob Chychrun is a rising star with a toolbox bursting at the seams. Consistently displays elite four-way skating ability and is not afraid to throw his weight around physically. Plays with poise and composure through high pressure situations and, with the puck on his stick, can direct the play up-ice. Exhibits a particularly potent shot that works its magic on the power play and on the forecheck. Excellent first pass and uses his vision and awareness to keep the puck moving in the direction of the opposition’s tail or to a teammate with more time and space. Defensively adept at tracking the puck and staying a step ahead of the opposition. Proactive with his stick and body, exerting pressure on the opposition and forcing them to make hurried decisions.
All-in-all, a well-rounded two-way defender that competes with pro-level drive and makes his authoritative presence felt at both ends of the ice.
Father: Jeff Chychrun
Uncle: Luke Richardson
Cousin: Morgan Richardson
5)-Pierre-Luc Dubois – Left Wing
Pierre-Luc Dubois is a Canadian ice hockey player. He is currently playing with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL. Wikipedia
A dexterous and driven competitor that has all the makings of a dynamic two-way winger. Not the most electric skater, but is shifty and plays to the extent of his physical capabilities; he knows his limits and plays within them, which facilitates a student-like approach to the growth of his game. Possesses high hockey-IQ and is consistent in his efforts. Not the most physical player, but is when he needs to be. All-in-all, Dubois is an invaluable all-around player who plays in all situations and exceeds expectations when the opportunity arises. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)
A top-end talent that impacts all aspects of the game from different angles. May well be the most complete player in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. His multidimensional play and elite offensive prowess reminds scouts a little bit of James Neal. Competitiveness marks his game and he consistently proves to be a high impact player when he is on the ice. [EP]
Father: Éric Dubois
6)-Patrik Laine – Right Wing
Patrik Laine is a Finnish ice hockey player. He currently plays with Tappara in the Finnish Liiga. Laine is rated as a top prospect in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and is expected by hockey analysts to be a top-two overall selection. Wikipedia
A natural scorer, Laine’s greatest asset is his intimidating shot. He’s not a speedy skater, but possesses power and a long stride, and protects the puck well with his large frame and longer stick. Overall, skating has been a minor issue through Laine’s development but has improved with some help from his ability to read the game. Laine has the hunger to create chances on his own from the wing and actively looks for and creates opportunities to use his shot. His elite wrist shot is notable for its quick release and his powerful one-timer from the top of the circle is a constant threat on the man-advantage.