All 30 teams have booked their flights and reserved their hotel rooms for Los Angeles on June 25 & 26. The Staples Center will play home to the 2010 Entry Draft, an event that greatly affects the future of many clubs.
The entry draft marks the end of a labour of love for scouts who travel to all corners of the hockey world throughout the season. Finding players like highly touted prospects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin isn’t nearly as big a challenge as selecting somebody who’s not always in the spotlight.
And that has been the biggest challenge facing the Canucks scouting staff the past few months. By finishing as Northwest Division champions during the regular season and exiting in the 2nd round of the playoffs, the Canucks will have the 25th overall pick.
Are the chances good their first pick makes the Canucks next season? Not likely. There’s even a strong chance their first pick may not even attend training camp next September. But when you’re picking where the Canucks are picking, you’re not expecting your top selection to make an immediate impact the following season.
So let’s assume the Canucks don’t move up or down in the draft order. Let’s assume Mike Gillis and his staff don’t do anything dramatic and are happy to pick 25th overall.
Here are a few players that may be on the Canucks radar when it comes to making their first pick later this month:
Team: Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 34th
NHL Central Scouting Mid Term Ranking: 47th
One of the highest-rising prospects over the last few months of the season, Skinner fits the mould of some of the Canucks recent top picks. While not that big in stature, Skinner makes up for it in skill. In 20 OHL playoff games, he led the league in goals (20) and was second in points (33). That came on the heels of a season which saw him post 50 goals and 40 assists. One of the MVP’s at this year’s CHL Top Prospects Game, I’ll be shocked if he’s not taken in the first round.
Team: Ottawa 67s (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 27th
NHL Central Scouting Mid Term Ranking: 24th
Steady two-way player up the middle, Martindale has been nearly a point-per-game performer his last two years in the OHL. He has shown the ability to be both a finisher and a play-maker in Ottawa. Still on the road to completely filling out his frame, he has the potential to be a strong depth centre-man at the NHL level.
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 17th
NHL Central Scouting Mid Term Ranking: 27th
Personally, I’d be really surprised to still see him available when the Canucks make their first selection. However, teams might see his rapid development as tough and rugged defenceman as a bit of a gamble to be that high a pick. Strong and mobile, he is arguably the toughest player in the entire draft. He’s a huge kid that can fight, will protect his team mates, and most importantly, keep his opponents honest whenever he’s on the ice.
Team: Penticton Vees (BCHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 32nd
NHL Central Scouting Mid Term Ranking: 48th
Another player who the Canucks would love to see up for grabs when it’s their time to step up to the podium. A California-born forward who shot up the draft rankings in the 2nd half of the season, Bennett led the BCHL in scoring as a rookie. In 56 games, Bennett had 41 goals and 79 assists. He’s committed to playing at the University of Denver next season and should be on USA Hockey’s radar for World Junior Team duty next winter.
Team: USNTDP U-18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 38th
NHL Central Scouting Mid Term Ranking: 42nd
One of the biggest players in this year’s draft, Tinordi should probably be ranked higher than where he his. By all accounts, the North Dakota University-bound prospect has great character and leadership abilities, as shown by captaining his team to a Gold Medal at the World Under-18 Championships. Known as a solid defensive d-man, he was +8 at that tournament and wasn’t on the ice for a single goal against. His father Mark spent 12 seasons in the NHL, racking up more than 1500 penalty minutes.