The Canucks helped shape their future with six selections in the 2021 NHL Draft this past weekend. Vancouver made a big splash before the picks even began, trading the ninth overall selection to Arizona in a deal that saw them land Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.
Despite not picking until the second round, Vancouver drafted several prospects with high-end skill who offer major upside. Among the picks were standout Belarusian forward Danila Klimovich and promising Finnish goaltending prospect Aku Koskenvuo.
Here's a breakdown of who the Canucks selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and what each player brings to the table:
Danila Klimovich, C (41st Overall) - The Canucks drafted Belarusian forward Danila Klimovich with the 41st selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Klimovich is a creative goal scorer with a deadly release and swift skating ability. The 18-year-old has great size at 6'2", 202lbs and isn't afraid to use that to his advantage. Klimovich is one of the most competitive players in this year's draft class and plays with a snarl to his game. If he isn't helping his team by filling the back of the net, Klimovich is dishing out the body and providing energy. Klimovich is especially dangerous on the power play where he gets himself open on the weak side and terrorizes goaltenders with his lethal shot. His finishing ability has made him a reliable goal scorer at every level he's played at.
Video: DRAFT | Canucks Select Danila Klimovich 41st Overall
Klimovich racked up 28 goals and 52 points in 37 games with Minskie Zubry in the Belarus Junior League this season. The Pinsk native also had a monster showing at the 2021 World Under-18 Championship, recording six goals in five games, including a hat trick against Switzerland. This performance shot him up draft boards and had some scouts questioning whether he'd be taken in the first round. There's plenty of upside with this pick given Klimovich's high-end skill set. He possesses all the required attributes to becomes a top-six forward at the NHL level. If Klimovich can work on his two-way game and improve his skating, Vancouver could be looking at a second-round steal.
Aku Koskenvuo, G (137th overall) - The Canucks selected Finnish netminder Aku Koskenvuo with the 137th pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He was the fourth best European goaltender as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. Koskenvuo is listed at 6'4" and 176lbstgy and is extremely athletic for his size. He uses his long legs to his advantage and is excellent at sealing off the bottom of the net. What stands out the most watching Koskenvuo is his lateral movement and ability to track pucks through traffic. Koskenvuo reads plays as they unfold and uses his agility to get across the crease. He excels at situations below the goal line where he can rely on his size and athleticism to close off holes. The 18-year-old netminder also does a good job challenging shooters and is quick to shut the door on rebound opportunities.
Highlights - Aku Koskenvuo
Koskenvuo's numbers in the 2020-21 season weren't flattering, but there's reason to believe he can develop into an NHL goaltender. Koskenvuo was playing in the Finnish U20 league, where he was a younger goalie facing snipers a few years older than him. He still managed to post a 2.92 GAA and .893 save percentage in 13 games with HIFK U20. The young netminder was good enough to catch the eyes of the Men's U18 Team and was their starting goalie at the U18 tournament. Given his size and athleticism, Koskenvuo possesses the key attributes you look for in a goaltender. The Finnish netminder is committed to Harvard for the 2022-23 season and will get the chance to develop his game with one of college hockey's most prestigious programs. Much like with the Klimovich pick, Koskenvuo has the raw skill to offer plenty of upside.
Jonathan Myrenberg, D (140th overall) - The Canucks drafted Swedish defenseman Jonathan Myrenberg with the 140th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Myrenberg is listed at 6'2", 185lbs and is a well-rounded, right-shot blueliner. The 18-year-old Swede is a strong skater who moves the puck very well. Myrenberg possesses solid puck control skills and an above-average shot. He excels at getting his shot through traffic from the point and can also unload a booming slapshot for one-timers. Myrenberg's smooth skating makes him hard to defend in the offensive zone. He has the edgework and mobility to make moves around defenders and walk the blueline. Defensively, Myrenberg does well to break up plays with his stick and uses his size to keep forwards to the outside.
Highlights - Jonathan Myrenberg
Myrenberg split the 2020-21 season between Linköping in the U-20 Nationell league and Sollentuna in the third-tier HockeyEttan men's league. The young Swede recorded three goals and eight points in 15 games with Linköping before adding six assists in nine games with Sollentuna. Myrenberg also played a key role in Sollentuna's postseason run, recording four assists in six games. He's one player who could've seen his stock rise if it weren't for the global pandemic. The J20 Nationell was put on pause in November, which led to Myrenberg being loaned to Sollentuna HC and seeing reduced minutes. Given his playmaking ability and smooth skating, Myrenberg has the potential to become an NHL defenseman down the road.
Hugo Gabrielson, D, (169th overall) - The Canucks drafted another Swedish defenseman with the 169th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Hugo Gabrielson is a left-shot defenseman listed at 6'1" and 172lbs. He's a versatile and smooth-skating rearguard who can make impact plays at both ends of the ice. Gabrielson has a lethally accurate wrist shot and can also beat goalies with a blazing slapshot. He's a fantastic skater who can create separation from defenders due to his mobility and slick edgework. The youngster sees the ice well and makes very crisp passes. When it comes to defense, Gabrielson plays physical and does a good job keeping forwards to the outside.
Gabrielson split the 2020-21 season between Halmstad Hammers HC in the HockeyEttan and Frölunda HC J20 in the J20 Nationell. While he was playing in Frölunda, Gabrielson was regularly paired with Simon Edvinsson, who was drafted sixth overall by the Red Wings. Gabrielson has been a point-producing machine at every level he's played at. The Swede recorded three goals and seven points in 24 games with Halmstad Hammers HC last season before racking up 13 points (four goals) in 17 games with Frölunda. Gabrielson actually outscored his partner Edvinsson, who was regarded as one of the best blueliners in this year's draft class. Gabrielson has the upside of a second-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
Connor Lockhart, C (178th overall) - The Canucks drafted Erie Otters forward Connor Lockhart 178th overall in the sixth round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Lockhart is a smaller forward at 5-foot-9, 161lbs, but he wears his heart on his sleeve and plays bigger than his frame. He's a highly skilled playmaker who processes the game at a high speed. The Ottawa native has a lethal wrist shot and can get it off quickly to catch goalies by surprise. Lockhart isn't afraid to go the dirty areas and has scored numerous goals by battling hard in the crease. If he isn't beating goalies clean or cleaning up the garbage in front, Lockhart is setting up his teammates with his dazzling playmaking ability.
Highlights - Connor Lockhart
Lockhart was a goal-scoring machine in his pre-OHL days, scoring 50 goals in 30 games with the 'AAA' U15 Ottawa Senators in 2017-18 before adding 30 goals in 41 contests in his U18 season with the Kanata Lasers. He was selected third overall by the Erie Otters in the 2019 OHL Priority Section Draft. Lockhart was among an elite group of prospects that included Shane Wright, Brennan Othmann, Brandt Clarke, and Mason McTavish, among others. Lockhart recorded nine goals and 27 points in 57 games in his 2019-20 rookie season with Erie, but didn't play at all in 2020-21 due to the season being cancelled. That makes this pick very intriguing, as Lockhart was projected to take a big step forward in his sophomore year. He fell down the rankings because his sample size was very small and many teams didn't want to take that risk. Given his elite goal-scoring ability and competitive nature, Lockhart is a gamble that could pay off nicely for the Canucks.
Lucas Forsell, LW (201st overall) - With their final selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, the Canucks drafted Swedish forward Lucas Forsell 201st overall. He's one of the youngest players in this year's draft and was a few weeks away from being eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft. Listed at 6-feet and 165lbs, Forsell is an excellent passer who plays the game at a high speed. He sees the ice very well and is quite deceptive with his playmaking. Forsell is patient with the puck and will wait for lanes to open before getting it off his stick. Despite being on the smaller side, Forsell plays with an edge and isn't afraid to get physical. He's a well-rounded forward with solid defensive attributes. The young Swede does a good job breaking up plays with an active stick and is relentless on the backcheck.
Highlights - Lucas Forsell
Forsell has been a consistent offensive producer everywhere he's played. The 17-year-old put up four goals and 11 points in 13 games with Färjestad BK J20 in the J20 Nationell last season. He also appeared in four games with Färjestad BK at the U18 level in Sweden, recording four goals and 10 points. Forsell was impressive enough in 2020-21 that he earned himself a call-up to the SHL for one game. This is another pick with big upside if Forsell can fill out his frame and improve in a few areas. He has the hands and skating ability to be an asset at both ends of the ice. Forsell can play up-and-down the lineup and has also been deployed on the penalty kill and power play. Vancouver's final pick in the 2021 NHL Draft is yet another one that could pay major dividends down the line.