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31 in 31

Top prospects for Vancouver Canucks

Boeser could return to NHL after impressive brief debut

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Vancouver Canucks.

After years of trading away NHL Draft picks and prospects for immediate help for a contending team, the Vancouver Canucks have fully transitioned to stockpiling prospects. Much of that talent was at development camp, which wrapped up with a Summer Showdown game that featured plenty of high-end ability.

"We have some really good pieces, and I like the skill of the group moving forward, and we're starting to get that depth in the prospect pool you need to build really good teams," general manager Jim Benning said.

 

[CANUCKS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Canucks' top five prospects, according to NHL.com: 

 

1. Brock Boeser, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 23 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Vancouver: 9 GP, 4-1-5; University of North Dakota (NCAA): 32 GP, 16-18-34

Boeser, 20, had a dream debut late last season, signing an entry-level contract less than 24 hours after his college season ended and scoring in his first NHL game.

The 6-foot-1, 191-pound wing returned to development camp pledging to improve his skating and aware an NHL spot wasn't guaranteed. 

"He realizes how hard things are going to be, so he's doing things the right way to put himself in a good spot," director of player development Ryan Johnson said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Elias Pettersson, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Timra (SWE): 43 GP, 19-22-41

Pettersson, 18, will move up a level to the Swedish Hockey League with Vaxjo after scoring 41 points in 43 games for Timra IK in the second tier last season. 

The Canucks believe Pettersson has a higher offensive ceiling than center Cody Glass, who was selected No. 6 in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights and may be more NHL ready.

"[Elias is] a gifted kid," Vancouver president Trevor Linden told TSN 1040 radio.

Pettersson (6-2, 161) is focused on adding muscle, but size wasn't an issue against men last season.

"He understands puck protection," Linden said.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Pettersson reacts to being picked 5th overall

 

3. Olli Juolevi, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: London (OHL): 58 GP, 10-32-42

Juolevi posted almost identical statistics last season as he did prior to being drafted, but there was one number that changed significantly over the past year: his weight.

The 6-foot-2 19-year-old arrived at development camp at 198 pounds, up from 179 pounds the year before. Adding strength should improve Juolevi's long odds of making the NHL this season, but his ability to process the game and move the puck quickly remains his best chance.

"The wild card is, his sense and understanding of the game is elite," Linden said.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: 31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview

 

4. Jonathan Dahlen, F

How acquired: Acquired in trade from Ottawa Senators on Feb. 27

Last season: Timra (SWE): 45 GP, 25-19-44

Dahlen, who was picked No. 42 by Ottawa in the 2016 NHL Draft, played with Pettersson last season and could be reunited there if he doesn't make the Canucks out of training camp.

Dahlen, who turns 20 on Dec. 20, is old enough to play in the American Hockey League but has a clause in his contract that allows him to play in Sweden instead. The Canucks might want the 5-foot-11, 176-pound center to begin the adjustment to a smaller ice surface sooner, though, transitioning a game based on getting into scoring areas around the net, something that may require adding muscle.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Thatcher Demko, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 36 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Utica (AHL): 45 GP, 22-17-1, 2.68 GAA, .907 save percentage

Demko struggled early in his first pro season but made strides in the second half, with a .913 save percentage his final 26 games. It's all part of the process for the 21-year-old, whose save percentage climbed from .919 to .925 to .935 over three seasons at Boston College.

That process could take another two years in the AHL, leaving Demko (6-4, 192) plenty of time to continue to learn how to use his size more efficiently and rely less often on his athletic abilities to make desperate saves.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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