Another NHL Draft is in the books and the Vancouver Canucks have added six more prospects to their pool in the form of three defencemen (none of them right-handed), two forwards and a goaltender. They could have added more elite first-round talent if the rumored trade with the New York Islanders didn’t fall through, but that’s for a different article. At the end of the day, Patrik Allvin was left with his own first-round pick at 15th overall, which he used on a skilled Swede by the name of Jonathan Lekkerimaki.
After that, the Canucks did not have a pick until the third round at 80th overall and guess what, they used it on another Swede. But not just any Swede, no, a Swede that had the exact same name as Elias Pettersson – no difference in spelling either. Except he’s a defenceman, not a forward, and he does not have the same ceiling as the incumbent who calls the NHL and Vancouver his home.
In the later rounds, Allvin seemed to hand the reins over to his North American scouts, as they selected two players from the United States in center Daimon Gardner and defenceman Jackson Dorrington and one from British Columbia in goaltender Ty Young (which I would bet is an Ian Clark pick). Finally, with their last pick in the seventh round, they went back to Russia to find intriguing blueliner Kirill Kudryavtsev who played last season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Soo Greyhounds.
Now that you know the skinny, let’s dive into the six prospects that can now say they were drafted by the Canucks during the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal. Even if they don’t make it to the show one day, they will have that memory for the rest of their lives.
1st Round, 15th Overall – Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Right Wing, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
Going into the first round on July 7, there were a number of routes the Canucks could have gone. As I said in my preview post before the draft began, they need everything in their prospect pool right now. Specifically pivots and right-handed defencemen, but they could use more skill in general too. They got that and more with Lekkerimaki as he, along with Joakim Kemell who went to the Nashville Predators, have two of the best shots in the draft. In fact, some say he was one of the purest goalscorers available in the opening round. He didn’t fulfill any of their positional needs as a winger, but he could provide Pettersson with a legitimate sniper on his right side in the near future.
Playing alongside fellow first-rounders Liam Ohgren and Noah Ostlund, Lekkerimaki recorded 20 goals and 35 points in 26 games with Djurgårdens IF J20 and seven goals in 26 games in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He also represented his country at the 2022 U18 World Championship where he led the tournament in scoring with 15 points in six games (five goals, 10 assists) en route to a gold medal. All of that led to a boost in the draft rankings, including my own, as I placed him 8th in my final 128 prospects.
With Lekkerimaki, the Canucks finally have another legitimate blue-chip prospect in their system capable of developing into a dynamic top-line winger that can score upwards of 40 goals a season. They haven’t had that in a very long time; and if you weren’t excited by his potential already, Allvin threw a bit more fuel on that fire, comparing him to one Lucas Raymond, who recently completed a season that saw him score 23 goals and 57 points with the Detroit Red Wings.
“…He’s a dynamic, offensive player that has scoring ability but also is able to make plays. He’s a lighter version maybe of Lucas Raymond and how he plays in Detroit. There’s a lot of similarities here with Jonathan.”
Finally, before we jump down to the third round, I leave you with the best description of how Lekkerimaki plays the game, courtesy of THW’s Alex Hobson, who wrote his prospect profile.
“If you aren’t convinced already, Lekkerimaki will do quite literally anything to find the back of the net. Whether it’s a slap shot from the point that goes in before the goaltender has a chance to blink or a dirty net-front goal that finally trickles in after three or four whacks at it, Lekkerimaki wants every part of it, every time.”
Lekkerimaki will attend Development Camp at UBC starting on July 11, so everyone will get to see him before he jets back to Sweden for the 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, at this point, it doesn’t look like he will be playing for the Vancouver Giants in the fall, the team that selected him in the 2022 CHL Import Draft last week. Unless the Canucks can convince him otherwise, he will be back with Djurgardens next season.
3rd Round, 80th Overall – Elias Pettersson, Left Defence, Örebro HK J20 (Nationell)
The guy that could potentially make John Shorthouse’s life difficult one day, Pettersson was not ranked by many outlets to go at 80th overall, as only Elite Prospects and Dobber Prospects had him projected earlier than the fourth or fifth round. Having said that, he does possess a lot of skills that could one day translate to the NHL. As THW’s own Logan Horn points out, “Pettersson has surprisingly good speed and skating for a player of his size which he mainly uses to his advantage on the many zone exits and entries that he made for his U20 team”
Horn also went on to praise Pettersson’s wrist shot, which “he is excellent at getting off while in motion, either while cutting toward the middle of the ice from the point or while skating along the blue line.” Along with the mobility and shot he possesses, he has the size scouts covet in a defenceman at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. Considering the rarity of defencemen that can skate well at that height, the Canucks might have gotten a unicorn in the third round. He will most definitely be a long-term project, but that’s usually the case with players – especially blueliners – that get selected in the later rounds. Who knows? Maybe he can develop into someone like Marcus Pettersson in Pittsburgh who Allvin was responsible for during the 2014 Draft.
If nothing else, Pettersson’s selection provided some humor to the festivities as his namesake had some fun on Instagram with the Spiderman meme, and with Canucks.com in their comments section, where he replied, “We need another nickname (laughing emoji)” Also, to add to the fun, Pettersson (defenceman) revealed that his favorite player was also Pettersson (forward).
4th Round, 112th Overall – Daimon Gardner, Center, Warroad High School (HIGH-MN)
As we dig deeper into the draft, we get to Gardner, a pivot out of Warroad High School in Minnesota. At the high school level, he was a beast, scoring 45 times and adding 38 helpers for a total of 83 points in only 30 games. That got him noticed by the United States Hockey League (USHL), where he scored four goals in 14 games split between the Omaha Lancers and Tri-City Storm. Committed to Clarkson University in 2023-24, he will be playing in the Canucks’ backyard this coming season with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).
Praised by Daniel Gee of Elite Prospects for being “a talented passer and puck protector”, the Eagle Lake, Ontario native lives in the middle of the ice.
“Always inside-focused, Gardner’s sense prevails across his shifts. He drives middle lanes, exploits his frame advantages to protect against defenders, and has handling, shooting, and passing skills that all blend into a relatively sophisticated offensive package.” – Elite Prospects 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Gardner kind of sounds like Ryan Kesler a bit, doesn’t he? Well, maybe minus the passing, as the former Canuck did not have the best playmaking skills. But the rest, definitely Kesler-esque, as he was a player that never backed down from a battle in front of the net or in the middle of the rink. However, Kesler was a first-round pick, while Gardner is a fourth-rounder. He may have a similar skill set, but he is very raw right now with a lot of development still to come. Playing in the BCHL will help, as the Sedins and Mikael Samuelsson can keep an eye on him as he progresses. With that said, though, his future is really exciting, as he might turn into a steal of a pick in the later rounds if his power forward potential can be realized.
5th Round, 144th Overall – Ty Young, Goaltender, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
While I am not 100 percent certain, this is the proverbial “Ian Clark” fifth-round pick of 2022. Last year it was 6-foot-4 Finnish netminder Aku Koskenvuo at 138th overall, this year it’s 6-foot-3 Coaldale, Alberta native Ty Young at 144th. As everyone on the West Coast knows by now, Clark loves his tall and lanky goaltenders. The Canucks goaltending guru will now have three of them to work with as Arturs Silovs is also of the 6-foot-4 variety. But back to Young, the latest student to enroll at Clark’s Dojo.
Playing for the Prince George Cougars in the WHL, Young only appeared in 23 games behind starter Tyler Brennan (who was selected by the New Jersey Devils), as he split the year between the Cougars and the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). His stats don’t jump off the page, as he finished with a 3.50 goals-against average (GAA) and .899 save percentage (SV%) along with a losing record of 6-9-3. However, he did win the job from Brennan for a bit and helped them to the playoffs with some amazing performances.
“He displays workmanlike composure even when he is being bombarded with a high number of shots. Young is definitely above-average when it comes to following the play in front of him and seeing pucks through traffic. He keeps his form nice and tight so it’s hard for shooters to get pucks through him or over his shoulders. His rebound control is fairly clean and controlled, too.” – Derek Neumeier, FC Hockey (from ‘23961 – Kelowna vs. Prince George Game Report, 6/11/22).
If Clark can help him get quicker in the crease, the Canucks could have another graduate of his school of goaltending on their hands. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know for a number of years, as this position is notoriously slow to develop.
6th Round, 176th Overall – Jackson Dorrington, Left Defence, Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
Canucks fans will now have two prospects to watch at Northeastern University as Jackson Dorrington is committed to playing there in 2022-23. He will join Aidan McDonough, who was selected in the seventh round back in 2019. The second left-handed defenceman Allvin and his scouting staff added to the pipeline on Friday, he spent his 2021-22 season in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers where he scored three goals and 11 points in 41 games.
Standing at 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, Dorrington is yet another mobile defenceman with size. While his skating mechanics could use some work, his straight-line speed is very impressive and he has a good first pass out of his own zone. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts at the NCAA level when the speed of the game increases.
7th Round, 208th Overall – Kirill Kudryavtsev, Left Defence, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
With their final pick of the 2022 Draft, the Canucks drafted a Russian in Kudryavtsev, their third left-handed defenceman of Day 2. Standing at 5-foot-11, he was also their smallest, but arguably the one with the highest ceiling. With teams averse to selecting players from Russia, he fell to the seventh round even though he was ranked as high as 86th by Craig Button of TSN. The good thing about him is that he did not play hockey in his home country this past season, electing to come over to the OHL in 2021-22 instead of staying in the MHL with Logo Yaroslavl.
Selected by the Greyhounds in the 2021 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, Kudryavtsev finished the season with five goals and 39 points in 68 games. He also impressed his GM Kyle Raftis with his poise and ability to adjust quickly to the North American game.
“He did a great job coming over and really establishing himself…When you look at the blueline that he came into, for him to constantly carve out minutes, he’s such a smart player with a great stick and his defending really took a step (in the second half). A lot of times when a European defenceman comes over, it takes a little bit of time to adjust. He made some great adjustments.”
All in all, Kudryavtsev is a well-rounded blueliner that THW’s Logan Horn describes as being “good at everything, but exceptional at nothing”, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. From his ability to block shots and accurately pass the puck out of his own zone to his versatility and powerful shot, he could turn out to be a serious steal at the bottom of the draft. In fact, Horn actually projects him to be a top-four defender in the NHL (if his offence improves). Now if that happens, Allvin and his staff will be declared geniuses with this pick.
Canucks’ 2022 Draft Class Filled With Raw Potential
Allvin and his new front office contingent did what I expected, draft at least a couple of Swedes and take some swings on a few prospects that might take a bit of time to develop. In my mind, they hit an absolute home run with Lekkerimaki and took calculated risks on Gardner and Dorrington, who both have raw skillsets that could be forged into diamonds. Pettersson was a great pick in the third round too, but it could get dicey for the commentators when they have to distinguish between the forward Pettersson and the defenceman Pettersson. The jersey can’t just say “E. Pettersson” either.
Finally, the Kudryavtsev selection could turn out to be the best of the bunch from Day 2 and he was drafted 208th overall. Not too shabby for the first draft under Allvin’s watch. Although, the final verdict will have to wait a few years to see how each of them progresses under the new player development team, which now includes the added experience of the Sedins, Mikael Samuelsson and Mike Komisarek.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.