The more things change, the more they stay the same. For the Canucks, it's another wasted season, and the glimmer of hope that gets snuffed out when the lottery balls don't fall their way. Again.
In all honesty, I hope you haven't been running through the scenario that sees the Canucks finally winning the Draft Lottery on Monday night. Mostly because you should know better than to have hope that they'll have the Hockey Gods smile upon them. But also because if for some weird reason, it actually happens, it would be amazing. But it won't, so knock it off. Connor Bedard isn't gonna be a Canuck, and that's a shame, because it's literally what he's dreamt of his entire life.
So, if we look at this realistically, who should we be prepared to see the Canucks pick in June? Will we see them get a player on par with picks like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser or Quinn Hughes? Or is it going to be a Cody Hodgson or Jake Virtanen? First, let's see where they're likely to pick.
There's 11 possible winners of the coveted first overall pick. The Canucks are the 11th team, and thus have the lowest odds. How low, you say? Well, how does a 3% chance feel? If you said appropriate, congratulations on being a long suffering Canucks fan. Interestingly, the odds are a smidge better for the 2nd overall pick, at 3.2%, and that could net you a player like Adam Fantilli. The least likely outcome? Third overall. Just a 0.1% chance that happens, followed by the worst case scenario, dropping all the way to 13th, at 0.5%. Falling one spot to 12th has a 13.4% chance of happening, but staying in 11th? 79.9%. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
So, what kind of player's going to be available for them, should they end up in 11th or 12th? With the NHL Central Scouting final rankings out, we can see some interesting possibilities for the Canucks, depending on how the previous picks go. Ranked ninth amongst North American skaters, Samuel Honzek is a LW for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, a pick that would be pretty popular for a team that needs some positive spin heading into the summer. He's 6'4" and 186 pounds, and that's the kind of size they need up front. He put up a decent 23-33-56 in 43 games as a rookie, and had a goal and three assists in the Giants early playoff exit, where they got swept by the Kamloops Blazers.
There's also Gabe Perrault, from the USNTDP Juniors of the USHL. Perrault puts up points, like a LOT of points. With the US U18s this year, his numbers were 53-79-132 in 63 games. He also had 19-26-45 in 23 USHL games, numbers that were consistent with his other output, just a hair under two points a game. And at the recent IIHF World U18s, he had 5-13-18 in just seven games! The son of former Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens F Yanic Perrault, and brother of Anaheim Ducks prospect Jacob, he has dual citizenship, but was born in Sherbrooke, PQ. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in pure speed, skating skill and generous offensive talent.
If the Canucks are looking for size, something that seems like a very real concern for a team coached by a guy like Rick Tocchet, perhaps looking to Russia might be what they do. Ranked 9th among European skaters is Daniil But. Coming in at 6'5" and 203 pounds, the left winger for the Yaroslavl Juniors, putting up a point a game, while also scoring twice for Yarolsavl in 15 KHL games. The Canucks could use a legit power forward, could he be the guy who fills this need?
Or maybe they decide to go with a defenceman as they continue to retool the back end. One intriguing possibility is Austrian Dman David Reinbacher. A right shot defenceman, he's playing huge minutes in the Swiss league as an 18 year old, and is drawing draft year comparisons to Moritz Seider. Size, and a willingness to play the body, and has shown to be solid at both ends of the ice. If he's available, I'd be thrilled to see the Canucks take him.