By: Trent Leith / May 8, 2023
The Canucks entered the NHL draft lottery on Monday night with a 3% chance of drafting a once-in-a-lifetime player, a player who scored 134 goals in 134 games in the WHL, a self-admitted Canucks fan and hometown kid, Connor Bedard.
Despite only a one in 33.3 chance, Canucks fans were on the edge of their seats waiting to see how those ping-pong balls would fall.
The Canucks have never drafted first overall, not even in the year they entered the NHL with their expansion cousins the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo were awarded the first overall selection even when the odds were even.
This year however, the draft anticipation would end promptly when it was announced that the Canucks would draft in the 11th position in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. There was nearly an 80% chance the Canucks would draft in the 11th place, so Canucks fans who had their hopes up for anything else, were hoping for a long shot.
In a potential worst-case scenario for Canucks fans, The Chicago Blackhawks moved up to draft first overall. Drafting just outside the top 10 isn’t awful for the Canucks however, it’s also not extremely favourable. That said, the Canucks are right in the wheelhouse to draft David Reinbacher or Axel Sandin Pellikka who are the two highest-touted defenders in the draft. Pellikka is 5’11” and 181 lbs, whereas Reinbacher is larger 6’2″ 187 lbs. Both are right-shot defenders and would fill a much-needed role for the Canucks.
There is a slim chance that Matvei Michkov falls in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft due to his signing a contract in the KHL that expires in 2025-26. Michkov was once considered to contend with Bedard for first overall, but eventually, Bedard would make it clear that he was first overall calibre by a landslide. Michkov’s contract extension will also scare away some teams due to him not being eligible to begin playing the North American game for several years. Michkov is arguably the second or third best player in the draft and one of the most skilled available.
A team willing to be patient and wait, Michkov would certainly get quite the reward. However, many GMs might not be secure enough in their position to draft with such a look to the future, but if by some chance Michkov falls to the 11th overall, the Canucks should certainly draft him.
The other option, with a middle-of-the-pack draft pick, might be to use the pick as an asset. Allvin may be inclined to use the pick as bait to move out a bad contract or fill a need now. It all truly depends on how patient this front office wants to be, and has clearance to be.
Now all eyes for Canucks fans shift to June 28th, when the first day of the NHL Entry Draft is set to begin in Nashville. Fans can now start crossing their fingers that Bedard takes a page out of Adam Fox’s book and holds out and plays for the team he chooses, not the one that is chosen for him.