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30 in 30

Top prospects for Vancouver Canucks

Forward Brock Boeser, goalie Thatcher Demko need more seasoning

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Vancouver Canucks.

Few would argue that the Vancouver Canucks prospect pool is deeper since Jim Benning took over as general manager before the 2014 NHL Draft.

Despite trading 11 draft picks since taking the job, Benning is excited about the depth in Vancouver's system. He also takes issue with claims it lacks high-end talent, pointing to defenseman Olli Juolevi, forward Brock Boeser and goalie Thatcher Demko.

"Right there we have potentially a No.1 goalie, a top-pairing defenseman and a top-six scoring winger, so I am excited about our group of prospects," Benning said.

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

1. Brock Boeser, RW

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

Last season: University of North Dakota (NCAA): 42 GP, 27-33-60

After helping North Dakota win the NCAA championship as a freshman last season, the sides agree another season of college hockey will allow Boeser, 19, to continue developing his 6-foot-1, 191-pound frame while adding a leadership role.

"Offensively he's got great vision, he goes to the gray areas to score, and when he gets to those areas he's got that snap shot, that quick release that surprises a lot of goalies," Canucks director of player development Stan Smyl said. "Of course, at the next level everyone is a little better and you have to get it away a little quicker. It gets a little tougher, a little faster, a little stronger. There are still steps, but he'll figure it out."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher get mic'd up

2. Thatcher Demko, G

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

Last season: Boston College (NCAA): 39 GP, 27-8-4, 1.88 GAA, .935 save percentage

Demko, 20, changed his goaltending style after hip surgery last summer and the results of his improved mobility were impressive. He helped Boston College reach the NCAA Frozen Four and was named the top goalie in college hockey, but the Canucks will be careful not to rush their athletic 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect, pointing to the three or more years that Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom each spent in the American Hockey League.

"Everybody gets excited and obviously we do too," Canucks goaltending coach Dan Cloutier said. "He's a big goaltender that competes and battles, but at the same time it takes goalies time to take it to next level and Thatcher is no different."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

3. Olli Juolevi, D

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

Last season: London (OHL): 57 GP, 9-33-42

Smyl praised the 6-foot-2, 182-pound left-handed defenseman for his playmaking and poise while standing out at his first development camp. Juolevi talked about making the NHL as an 18-year-old, but Vancouver will be patient with the skilled native of Finland.

"I feel he can be a top-pairing defenseman," Benning said. "He's so smart and he plays with poise and he reads the play so well that I just feel we have to be patient with him and develop him properly, but I feel he's a blue-chip prospect."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

Video: Vancouver Canucks prospect camp

4. Nikita Tryamkin, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 66 pick of 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Canucks: 13 GP, 1-1-2; Yekaterinburg (KHL): 53 GP, 4-7-11

Despite four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League before coming to North America in March, Tryamkin doesn't turn 22 until Aug. 30. A contract clause that lets him return to Russia rather than going to the American Hockey League improves his odds of sticking this season, even as the seventh defenseman, but there were signs during his 13-game introduction to the NHL that he's ready.

"For being such a big man at 6-foot-7, 265 (pounds), his mobility and coordination is excellent," Benning said. "His reach defensively and to know when to put his stick in there to break up plays defensively was really good, and over the course of the 13 games he played, he just seemed to get better as he got more confidence."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

5. Anton Rodin, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 53 pick of 2009 NHL Draft

Last season: Brynas (SHL): 33 GP, 16-21-37

Rodin, 25 (6-foot, 185) , went back to his native Sweden in 2013 after two unsuccessful seasons in the AHL, but in the three years since, he has emerged as a top-six scorer. He was leading the SHL with 37 points in 33 games before a skate cut that severed tendons above his knee ended his season in mid-January, but he was named league MVP.

"He always had the hands and the skill, but in gaining strength his game progressed to where he played in the hard areas of the ice too," Benning said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 30 in 30: Vancouver Canucks 2016-17 season preview

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