The Canucks selected three forwards with their first three selections of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. By focusing on the forward ranks, the organization was able to inject some offensive punch to their prospect pool.
All three of the players selected, Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich, possess different types of skillsets, but are all known for creating offence. Combining the eye-test and the statistical analysis is becoming an important aspect of prospects and all three of these players have some noteworthy stats from their draft seasons.
Drafted from the same program as Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen, Pettersson was dominant this year for Timra. The two combined for the lion's share of Timra's offence.
The season ended with Dahlen (25-19-44) leading the Red Eagles in scoring, and Pettersson (19-22-41) finishing second. The next closest player trailed Pettersson by 9 points and that was their centreman for a large portion of their season, Sebastian Lauritzen.
The Dahlen-Pettersson combo controlled around 65% of the goals for (GF%) while on the ice for Timra, and helped improved everyone of their linemates GF% when on the ice together. The chart below shows 'with you or without you' for Elias Pettersson. It tells you which players he has played with, and how much their GF% is affected when playing with each other or together:
It's clear that Pettersson made everyone else around him better.
Pettersson led all draft eligible forward scoring in the Allsvenkan this year. Furthermore, the 6'2" and 165 lbs winger's 0.95 point per game is ranked third in Allsvenskan history amongst all under 19-year-old players, trailing only St Louis Blues centre Patrik Berglund and Columbus Blue Jackets centre William Karlsson.
Unfortunately, due to his early birthday, Pettersson was unable to participate in the Under 18 World Junior Championships this year but he did play at the 2016 U18 in North Dakota. He finished the tournament with one goal and seven assists in eight games representing Sweden. He also participated in the U20 World Juniors this past winter and had one assist in 6 games.
It's fair to expect that Pettersson will take on a larger offensive role at the World Juniors this December. Once Pettersson adds some strength and weight, his ability to create offence could be hard for teams to contain. His dynamic ability to create plays should be exciting fans for many years to come.
Pettersson is expected to be moving to the Swedish Hockey League next season with the Vaxjo Lakers.
Kole Lind is an intriguing prospect that Canucks management obviously rate very highly. At the conclusion of day one of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, GM Jim Benning mentioned that there were a couple players that they had rated in the first round that were still available. They hoped to grab one of those players with the 33rd overall pick on the second day of the draft. Two picks into the 2nd round, and Kelowna Rockets forward Kole Lind was donning a Canucks jersey.
Measuring in at 6'1" and 176 lbs, Lind is another player whose play looks good to the eye test and when adding in the layer of data, the pick looks even more impressive
Lind started the season a little slow, but after the 10 game mark, he took off. Ending the season with 87 points (30-57-87) in 70 games. That total was 15th in the WHL, and fourth amongst first time draft eligible WHL forwards. His point-per-game rate of 1.24 PPG was ranked 5th amongst that same peer group:
That 1.24 PPG was 8th amongst all first time eligible forwards in the Canadian Hockey League. Six of the seven players were selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
The Shaunavan, Saskatechewan native only averaged an estimated 15:28 of ice time per game for the Rockets. That is well below his counterparts eTOI.
With more responsibility and ice time, the right winger could see his production increase next season. He has the ability to create offence in a variety of ways and should be exciting to watch in the WHL this upcoming season.
Following right behind Lind in terms of production was the Canucks second selection in the second round, Owen Sound Attack forward Jonah Gadjovich. The gritty winger ended his OHL campaign with 1.23 PPG, finishing 9th in the CHL when looking at first time eligible forwards. That number was 4th amongst the Ontario Hockey League forwards who were hoping hear the name called.
The more you look and compare Gadjovich to his competition in the OHL, the more you see encouraging signs.
The Whitby, Ontario native ended the season with 46 goals, which was third in the entire OHL. His 275 shots were 8th in the entire league, while his teammate and fellow Canucks draftee Petrus Palmu ranked 7th with 278 shots. Needless to say, they both shot a lot. That's encouraging as their point totals were not inflated by unsustainable shooting percentages or luck.
Gadjovich makes his living in front of the net, battling and creating offence in the hard areas of the ice. The shot data supports that with 46 of his 275 shots coming from high danger areas. That number was 3rd in the entire OHL and indicated that he was forcing his way to the net and getting his chances. Furthermore, 90 more shots were taken in medium danger areas. This means 49% of shots were in medium or high danger locations.
His 4.58 shots per game was ranked 2nd amongst the first time draft eligible forwards and 4th in the OHL. After October 22nd, Gadjovich did not have a single game without a shot on goal, and that game in October was the only contest where he didn't registering a shot.
All of those shot and goal totals indicate that Gadjovich is doing all the right things. If he can add another step or two to his skating, the 6'2" and 200 lbs left winger could become a physical and lethal force for the Canucks for years to come.
The three forwards that the Canucks selected early in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft have different skill-sets and strengths. But the overriding theme to all of them is their versatility and ability to make their teammates better.
All three of them are expected to take on bigger roles next season for their respective teams and those added responsibilities should allow the newest Canucks prospects to flourish.
*Graphs created by Ryan Biech and Jeremy Davis