Vancouver Canucks rank No. 14 in NHL Pipeline Rankings for 2022

The Canucks pipeline is ranked this high mostly due to how good Quinn Hughes has become in the NHL and will likely be for a long time. Vasili Podkolzin and Jonathan Lekkerimaki look like players who can become solid top six wingers as well.

Key graduates: Elias Peterson

Key additions: Jonathan Lekkerimaki

2021 ranking: No. 7

2022 NHL Draft grade: B

Full 2022-23 NHL Pipeline Rankings

Player Ranking

1. Quinn Hughes, D

22 years old | 5-foot-10 | 170 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 7 in 2018
Tier: Bubble elite NHL player and NHL All-Star

Skating: Elite
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: High-end
Compete: NHL average

Analysis: Hughes had a monster season, coming just under a point per game as a 22-year-old defenseman in the NHL and playing major minutes for the Canucks. He’s dynamic with the puck due to his elite skating and playmaking ability. Hughes has a distinct skating stride that makes him highly elusive at both ends and allows his game to have a lot of pace. He makes highly skilled and creative plays with the puck at a high frequency as well. He’ll always be an offense-tilted player, but his defending should be good enough given his mobility, and he got regular PK time for the first time this season.

2. Vasily Podkolzin, LW

20 years old | 6-foot-1 | 190 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 10 in 2019
Tier: Bubble top and middle of the lineup player

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: High-end

Analysis: Podkolzin had a solid rookie NHL season. He didn’t elevate to a big role, but he showed flashes of the player he projects to be. He won’t be the most skilled or creative player on his line, but Podkolzin has legit NHL offensive abilities. He combines that skill with a tremendous motor. He competes hard to win pucks, attacks the net and plays the game without fear. His skating is his only real issue, and it may take him some time to adjust to the NHL pace but when he does I see a quality top-six winger.

After seeing his stock rise over the yeras, Hoglander came back to Earth a bit during his second NHL season. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

3. Nils Hoglander, RW

21 years old | 5-foot-9 | 185 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 40 in 2019
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: NHL average
Puck skills: Elite
Hockey sense: Below NHL average
Compete: Above NHL average

Analysis: After seeing his stock steadily go up and up for a few years, Hoglander had a tougher second NHL season and came back to Earth a bit. I still think he’s an excellent young player, primarily due to his incredible skill level and the unique things he can do with the puck. You love that skill and his work ethic, but he doesn’t make that many plays, is undersized and lacks the top-end speed you want at his size. Despite that I see a long-term second-line winger as he develops.

4. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW

18 years old | 5-foot-10 | 173 pounds | Shoots right

Drafted: No. 15 in 2022
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: Below NHL average
Shot: High-end

Analysis: Lekkerimaki is a skilled winger who has various offensive elements in his game, but the clear strength of his game is his shot. He is a goal-scoring threat from the faceoff dots with a hard, accurate wrist shot and one-timer that projects to be a weapon in the NHL. He has good speed, hands and vision to generate clean entries and make plays but those aspects don’t pop like his shot. Like a lot of shooters, he leans too much on his best asset and play too much on the perimeter, which isn’t ideal for a player who lacks size. Lekkerimaki projects as a second line winger.

5. Linus Karlsson, C

22 years old | 6-foot-1 | 178 pounds | Shoots right

Acquired via trade
Tier: Projected to play NHL games

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: NHL average
Shot: Above NHL average

Analysis: Karlsson had a great season in the SHL, scoring 46 points in 52 games. Inside the offensive zone he can make a lot of positive things happen. He has great individual skill and beats defenders one-on-one often. Karlsson can make plays, but his shot is more of a threat and he can beat pro goals from the dots. His skating is his major hindrance and it’s why despite having some center experience I see him as a pro winger. I think he can be a full-time bottom-six wing in the NHL.

6. Danila Klimovich, RW

19 years old | 6-foot-2 | 202 pounds | Shoots right

Drafted: No. 41 in 2021
Tier: Projected to play NHL games

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: Below NHL average
Shot: Above NHL average

Analysis: Klimovich had an up and down first pro season, getting off to a hot start in the AHL before a slump in the second half. There’s no doubting he has legit offensive tools. Klimovich has NHL skill and shooting ability and projects to be able to help a pro power play. He can be frustrating though due to his perimeter play and lack of pace. He has enough for his game to be a full-time NHLer, but I can see him struggling to get consistent middle-of-the-lineup minutes.

Has a chance to play (listed alphabetically)

Nils Åman, C

22 years old | 6-foot-2 | 179 pounds | Shoots left

Signed to ELC

Analysis: Aman is a big body center with some skill who competes hard. His skating is just OK and will be his main challenge for the NHL.

Joni Jurmo, D

20 years old | 6-foot-4 | 190 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 82 in 2020

Analysis: Jurmo is a tall defenseman who skates well for his frame and has some offensive touch. I don’t think he’s found a niche at what he excels at yet as a pro, but there are tools to work with.

Aidan McDonough, LW

22 years old | 6-foot-2 | 201 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 195 in 2019

Analysis: McDonough is a tall winger with a high skill level who can shoot the puck well and has been excellent in college, but he’s a perimeter shooter without much footspeed so I have concerns on how that translates to the NHL.

Elias Pettersson, D

18 years old | 6-foot-2 | 185 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 80 in 2022

Analysis: Pettersson is a solid defender due to his size and mobility. He doesn’t shy from physical play as well. He’s able to close on checks effectively and kill a fair number of plays. His skating allows him to jump into attacks well too. Offensively he has a hard point shot/one-timer that is a threat, but overall Pettersson lacks much poise or skill with the puck. If he can make a good first pass he’s an NHL player but I need to see that more consistently.

Arturs Silovs, G

21 years old | 6-foot-4 | 203 pounds | catches left

Drafted: No. 156 in 2019

Analysis: Silovs is a good athlete at 6-foot-4 with solid quickness in net, but his reads are inconsistent and he gives up too many long-range goals.

Jacob Truscott, D

20 years old | 6-foot-1 | 170 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 144 in 2020

Analysis: Truscott is an intelligent two-way defenseman who can move the puck well enough. He’s a reliable defender in college due to his brain and reach, but his skating is just OK, making it questionable he’ll be able to make stops in the NHL.

Player Eligibility: All skaters who are 22 years old or younger as of Sept. 15, 2022, regardless of how many NHL games they’ve played, are eligible. Player heights and weights are taken from the NHL.

Tool grades: Tool grades are based on a scale with six separate levels, with an eye toward how this attribute would grade in the NHL (poor, below-average, average, above-average, high-end and elite). “Average” on this scale means the tool projects as NHL average, which is meant as a positive, not a criticism. Skating, puck skills, hockey sense and compete for every projected NHL player are graded. Shot grades are only included if a shot is notably good or poor.

Tier Definitions: Tiers are meant to show roughly where in an average NHL lineup a player projects to slot in.

(Illustration: Wes McCabe/ The Athletic; photo of Quinn Hughes: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)


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