Heading into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Shane Wright was the consensus first overall pick. However, when the draft actually happened, it turned out that there was not much consensus.
Wright was clearly not ranked first overall by the Montreal Canadiens, who took Juraj Slafkovsky with the first pick. He was also not ranked first overall by the New Jersey Devils, who took Simon Nemec second, or the Arizona Coyotes, who took Logan Cooley third.
It took until the fourth pick in the draft for Wright to be picked by the Seattle Kraken, which is a prime example of how wildly different draft rosters can be. Each team has their own roster based on the opinions of their scouts and the priorities they assign to different aspects of the game. A top-10 prospect on one team may not even make the first round on another team’s roster.
That brings us to Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Jonathan Lekkerimäki.
“You guys are hitting the table for Lekkerimäki.”
Most of the public draft rankings had Lekkerimäki in the top 10, with Bob McKenzie ranks him higher in eighth place overall.
Yet even McKenzie’s ranking reflected how varied draft lists can be. McKenzie compiles his rankings by polling actual NHL scouts and Lekkerimäki was everywhere in that poll, with one scout ranking him fourth overall while another had him 17th overall.
Evidently, a lot of the teams they picked ahead of the Canucks in the draft didn’t have Lekkerimäki in their top 10 or he would have been gone long before they did. 15th overall for the Canucks.
The Canucks were delighted to see him slip through the draft. Thanks to the latest team all access videowe know exactly where the Canucks had Lekkerimäki on their roster.
The relevant section begins at 5:08 in the video with Canucks GM Patrik Allvin on the phone, presumably on a business call with another team’s GM.
“Pass that one,” Allvin says into the phone, and the video shows Allvin telling assistant general manager Derek Clancey, “We’re not going down.”
The reason why they are unwilling to trade from 15th overall is immediately clear.
“Lekkerimäki, we have it at number seven on the list for a reason, right? He is a good player,” Allvin says. “You guys are hitting the table for Lekkerimäki. Lekkerimäki is the guy, right? He is a top-six goalscorer.”
The Canucks had Lekkerimäki ranked seventh overall, meaning they had him higher on their roster than eight other players who were drafted before him. It’s no wonder the Canucks’ amateur scouting director enthusiastically says, “Oh, yeah, that’s a steal,” to Allvin on the draft stage.
“You can’t buy a difference maker.”
Why they’re so excited about Lekkerimäki should be clear from behind the scenes of the pre-draft scouting meeting that tops the video. In that segment, Canucks fans get some clarity on Allvin’s philosophy and vision for the draft and the team.
“I don’t want to have a third-row guy in the first round. I don’t,” Allvin says at 1:45 of the video. “Those guys, you can find them in free agency, C+ players, you can find them in free agency. What you can’t find are the ones that make the difference. You can’t buy a difference marker, it’s too expensive. To be good, you have to find those who make a difference.”
There were a couple of players who could be considered “back row guys” who jumped ahead of Lekkerimäki in the draft, such as Marco Kasper and Conor Geekie. Shortly after making the pick, Allvin talks about how Mikael Samuelsson was “really excited” about Lekkerimäki, then makes it clear that he’s the kind of “difference-maker” he talked about at his draft meetings.
“When you have the opportunity to get a difference marker and you have it rated high, go for it,” he says.
“It’s easy to fall in love with high character competitive players.”
There are a few other intriguing details from the video. The entire Canucks analytics department (Aiden Fox, Miles Hoaken, Rachel Doerrie and Ryan Biech) are in the room with the scouts for the pre-draft scouting meeting, which is a positive sign of how analytics have been integrated in their processes.
Allvin also has strong words about overestimating the level of competition in scouting evaluations.
“At the end of the day, everyone is competing at the National Hockey League level. What separates them is skill level,” says Allvin. “It’s easy to fall in love with high character competitive players at this level. How can they get to the next level where everyone competes? You have to be smarter, you have to be more skilled. At some point, everyone is going to compete.”
It is an interesting point. Players who compete hard at the lower levels are valued by scouts as it can be an indication of whether that player will make it to the NHL: a prospect needs drive and character to do the work necessary to reach the NHL level.
However, Allvin points out that once that player makes it to the NHL, “competing” is no longer a separating factor — everyone has it. What is a separating factor is marrying that level of competence with intelligence and skill.
“There are going to be no excuses.”
Beyond that, the video is careful not to reveal too much about the Canucks’ draft process and details. He reveals nothing of the table discussion surrounding his picks on day two of the draft, for example. There’s a cute moment at 4:40 in the video, though, where Allvin is chatting with Brian Burke and Burke, his tie loose around his shoulders as usual, takes a moment to adjust Allvin’s Canucks lapel pin. .
Granted, it’s not the most compelling moment, but like I said, not much is revealed.
From the draft, the video moves into the development field, where Allvin is encouraging but frank with the perspectives gathered.
“Abbotsford’s coaching staff and our development staff will guide you to become an NHL player. There will be no excuses not to do it: we have all the resources here,” says Allvin.
The development camp section of the video features some of the interactions between the team’s development staff and the players, such as Samuelsson working with Danila Klimovich on small details about puck positioning and protection, and Higgins encouraging Linus Karlsson to move more feet when leaving. of tight turns.
It’s a great illustration of how many minor details can make or break a lead’s development. Standing two feet out of position can be the difference between keeping possession of the puck to make a play and having a defenseman knock the puck off his stick and miss the opportunity.
Then there are the cooking classes, playing dodgeball with the kids at Kimount Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and of course Grouse Grind. The prospects weren’t alone on the Grind, with several members of the development staff participating. Unsurprisingly, there is a chance at 17:40 of the Sedins dominating the Grind.
While this video is not as revealing as some previous videos the Canucks have released of their scouting meetings and drafts: the Canucks infamously revealed their entire 2010 preliminary roster in a video interview with then assistant GM Laurence Gilman — but this video still provides a glimpse of how Allvin views the draft and how he builds a team.
At the very least, it’s intriguing to learn that the Canucks had Lekkerimäki in seventh overall.
Which six players had qualified ahead of Lekkerimäki? Was it the same six that were selected with the top six draft picks (Slafkovsky, Nemec, Cooley, Wright, Cutter Gauthier and David Jiricek) or did they have someone else in the mix?