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Canucks hold 15th spot in 2022 Draft Lottery, Linus Karlsson to rep Sweden

May 11, 2022, 2:22 PM ET [201 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Before I get into some talk about the Draft Lottery and where the Canucks will stand on July 7, let's start today with a couple of interesting notes from the prospect front.

First off — just two days before Friday's beginning of the World Championship in Finland, Sweden has announced its full roster. And Linus Karlsson has made the team!

Karlsson, of course, made headlines earlier this year when he broke Elias Pettersson's record for goals by a rookie in the Swedish Hockey League — although he did it at age 22, while Pettersson was 19. Karlsson is only one year younger than Pettersson — originally drafted in the third round by the San Jose Sharks in 2018, and traded to the Canucks in exchange for another Swedish forward, Jonathan Dahlen just a few months later, at the 2019 trade deadline.

Dahlen, of course, was originally obtained by the Canucks from Ottawa in exchange for impending UFA Alex Burrows, all the way back at the 2017 deadline. So that trade tree is still alive.

Now 24, Dahlen finally cracked the Sharks' NHL roster this year. But his season was inconsistent. He had some injuries and was also scratched at times. Shuffled up and down San Jose's lineup, he finished with 12-10-22 and a minus-25 in 61 games.

Karlsson's stat line with Skelleftea in the top Swedish League was 26-20-46 in 52 games. Pettersson, by comparison, had a more well-rounded 24-32-56 in 44 games with Vaxjo in 2017-18, and added another 19 playoff points in 13 games as he led his team to the SHL championship.

Comparing Karlsson to Pettersson probably creates unrealistic expectations about what he could accomplish if he does come over to North America. When asked about him at the season-ending media-availability last week, Patrik Allvin said he believed Karlsson was on the bubble to make Sweden's World Championship roster. So, it's a positive that he's on the team. And hopefully, he'll get a chance to spend some time bonding with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Still over in Europe — word on Wednesday is that the Canucks are still in the running for 26-year-old Russian free-agent forward Andrei Kuzmenko.

Now — to the meat of the matter.

Probably to no one's surprise, the Vancouver Canucks' 0.5% odds of moving up in Tuesday's draft lottery amounted to nothing.

The only movement was the New Jersey Devils — who managed their third win in the last six years and moved from fifth up to second.

The Montreal Canadiens, who will host the draft on July 7-8, retained the first-overall pick.

The Devils' win bumped three teams down by one spot each: Arizona (now third), Seattle (now fourth) and Philadelphia (now fifth).

If you're interested in more big-picture info, including a quick look at some of the prospects at the very top of the draft, I wrote about the big picture on Tuesday for Forbes.

Vancouver holds steady at No. 15 — a spot where they have never picked before.

The closest comparables for the Canucks would be Michael Grabner, selected at No. 14 in 2006, and R.J. Umberger, selected 16th overall in 2001.

Of course, Umberger never played for the Canucks, and Grabner only played 20 of his 640 career NHL games in Vancouver before he was dealt away as part of the package that brought in Keith Ballard during the summer of 2010.

If you're looking for someone in that range who did have a significant career in Vancouver, you could do worse than Ring of Honour member Matthias Ohlund — selected 13th overall in 1994.

But here's a fun fact: the Canucks do have a 15th-overall pick on their roster, and it's none other than J.T. Miller. That's certainly a heartening indication that if an organization gets it right, there is gold to be mined in the middle of Round 1.

QuantHockey has an excellent, sortable list of all the players ever drafted at 15th overall. The top five, points-wise, are a dazzling bunch:

1. Joe Sakic - drafted 1987 - 1,641 points
2. Al MacInnis - drafted 1981 - 1,274 points
3. Mike Bossy - drafted 1977 - 1,126 points
4. Alexei Kovalev - drafted 1991 - 1,029 points
5. Erik Karlsson - drafted 2008 (active) - 660 points in 838 career games

That's an intriguing mix: three Canadiens, a Russian and a Swede; three forwards and two defensemen; four Stanley cup winners; three Hall of Famers.

Miller's 454 points in 637 games rank him ninth on the all-time list, and second among active players, behind Karlsson. He's also already the top-scoring American to ever be drafted 15th. Second spot in that category belongs to another very good active player, Dylan Larkin.

The other active NHLers who were chosen 15th: Alexander Radulov, Cody Ceci, Ryan Pulock, Luke Kunin, Derek Forbort, Cole Caufield, Erik Brannstrom, Grigory Denisenko and Zach Senyshyn.

The timing of this year's playoffs and draft are different from normal years. Now that their draft positions are known, scouts will not get as much time to prepare as they typically would.

In 2019, the last normal offseason, the Draft Lottery was held on April 9, and the draft in Vancouver was held just over 10 weeks later, on June 21-22.

This year's draft will be here before we know it: just seven and a half weeks away!

To get a sense of what kind of players could be available at No. 15, I peeped a couple of new mock drafts — one from our friends at Tankathon, and one from prospects guru Chris Peters over at Daily Faceoff.

Both lists assigned the same player to the Canucks: the delightfully-named power forward Rutger McGroarty from the U.S. National Team Development Program.

That might be a bit of a reach. McGroarty is listed as the 22nd-best North American skater in the final draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting. He's down four spots from the mid-term rankings, and while he's a handful in front of the net with his big body, his skating is said to be an issue.

McGroarty did have a strong tournament in Germany at last month's World U18 Championship, where he served as captain and led Team USA with eight goals as they captured the silver medal. The U.S. team outshot Sweden 51-15 in the gold-medal game, and McGroarty had two goals, but the Swedes prevailed by a 6-4 score.

He's committed to the University of Michigan for next season.

I'll dig deeper on McGroarty and some of the other names that could be available at 15 over the next few weeks.

For now, just know that Patrik Allvin told Ben Kuzma of The Province that he's a 'best player available' kind of guy:

"There are a lot of good players in the draft and not a lot of difference between No. 4-5 down to No. 15-16, and our staff is pretty excited about picking 15th," Allvin said. "The key to success in the league is drafting and developing your own players and it's a big part of our franchise moving forward here to continue to find players and work with them.

"We're intrigued because there are good players in that (15th overall) range. I believe in picking the best player, regardless of position, and you can never have too many players in one position."

In terms of history, we don't have a lot to go on. Allvin, of course, is a first-time GM. And his boss, Rutherford, frequently used first-round picks as trade capital to keep the Penguins competitive.

During his seven years at the helm in Pittsburgh from 2014 to 2020, the Penguins drafted in the first round just twice. They took Kasperi Kapanen at No. 22 in 2014 and Samuel Poulin at No. 21 in 2019.
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