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31 in 31

Top prospects for Vancouver Canucks

Hughes expected to make impact in NHL this season

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Vancouver Canucks, according to


[Canucks 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]


1. Quinn Hughes, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2018 NHL Draft 

Last season: Vancouver (NHL): 5 GP, 0-3-3; University of Michigan (NCAA): 32 GP, 5-28-33

Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) made his NHL debut March 28 following his sophomore season at Michigan and impressed with his skating and skill despite an ankle bruise that kept him out of the lineup for more than two weeks.

The 19-year-old played 21:42 in the season finale April 6 after he got 15:36 of ice time in his debut. He is expected to play an important role in his first full season, especially on the power play.

"My job as a coach is to also taper pressure and make sure these guys develop the right way, but in his five games, he went from 15 to 22 minutes and showed us a glimpse of what he can do," coach Travis Green said. "He's going to help in a lot of areas. He's going to help our breakouts, our power play."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: LAK@VAN: Hughes earns first point on Boeser's goal


2. Vasily Podkolzin, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

Last season: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): 3 GP; 0-0-0; SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL): 12 GP; 6-2-8

Podkolzin is under contract in the Kontinental Hockey League the next two seasons playing in his native Russia, but the Canucks liked his combination of size (6-1, 190), skill and competitiveness enough that they were willing to make him their first pick in the NHL Draft they hosted June 21-22 despite knowing they'd have to wait for him.

General manager Jim Benning said he is confident the 18-year-old can jump right to the NHL after two seasons in the KHL and sees the forward as an ideal complement to Vancouver's other skilled young forwards. 

"He plays a heavy game," Benning said. "He's got the size and strength, he's good along the walls, can get to the net. He's the type of player that takes puck battles personal. He wants to win his puck battles, and I think that that's what makes him an effective player."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

Video: Vasily Podkolzin comes in at No. 26 on the list


3. Olli Juolevi, D

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

Last season: Utica (AHL): 18 GP; 1-12-13

Juolevi (6-2, 182) has yet to play in the NHL after an injury-plagued start to his career, including knee surgery in mid-December that ended his first professional season in North America.

Barring injuries to defensemen ahead of him on the Canucks' depth chart, the 21-year-old will start this season in the same position as last season, trying to establish himself in the American Hockey League with an eye on earning a promotion. 

"Our hope this year is he starts off well and can play NHL games," Benning said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Vancouver Canucks 2019-20 season preview


4. Nils Hoglander, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 40 pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

Last season: Rogle BK (SHL): 50 GP; 7-7-14

The 18-year-old turned heads with his skill and finish at Canucks development camp in June. Despite his size (5-9, 185), he showed a willingness to take pucks into tough areas in front of the net and engage physically, which has the Canucks excited about his ability to make the NHL sooner than expected.

"Powerful, agile, not afraid of contact and high skill," Canucks senior director of player development Ryan Johnson said. "The power in his legs, and the skill set he has, there's something special there."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Canucks draft F Nils Hoglander No. 40


5. Tyler Madden, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 68 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Northeastern University (NCAA): 36 GP; 12-16-28

Madden shed his draft-day label as a defensive, two-way forward with a breakout offensive season as a freshman at Northeastern University. That isn't easy when your father is John Madden, a Selke Trophy winner and three-time finalist for the award as the top defensive forward in the NHL, but the 19-year-old has shown more offensive upside while maintaining a similar level of defensive aptitude. 

All of which bodes well for a future in the NHL despite being a bit undersized (5-11, 152).

"His hockey sense of the game is elite," Johnson said. "For not an overly big guy, he's plays a heavy game, he's got a heavy stick, and then at the end of that is a really high-end skill set."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

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