Stop trying to win so badly.
That's the motto the Canucks should be carrying with only 4 games remaining. We all know with 100% certainty that the players will be golfing come playoff time.
Of course, there are no NHL players in this league that are going to stop trying to win games, but there are other alternatives. Like playing Nicklas Jensen, Frankie Corrado, Zack Kassian and the younger core more. As in, first line minutes more.
More importantly, how about getting a good look at your back-up goaltender in Joacim Eriksson, instead of riding current starter Eddie Lack into the 9th spot in the Western Conference.
Here's why it matters.
Currently the Canucks are sitting in 22nd spot, good for 9th pick in this years NHL entry draft. They sit just 2 points up on teams like Ottawa, Winnipeg and Carolina who have either 79 or 80 points. That means if the teams close to them win and the Canucks lose their next game, they could fall as far as 25th, good enough for the 6th overall pick in the draft.
If, Heaven forbid, the Canucks go on a winning streak to end the season however, they could find themselves as high as 18th spot in the league, carrying the 13th overall pick.
So why is 6th that big of a difference over the 9th spot or even 13th? Let's look at the current draft choices and favourites going into this years pool, from the 6th spot to the 13th.
All choices below are predictions heading into this years draft and are not guaranteed to be selected in the current position. The predictions can be found on http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=49649
6th overall pick - Brendan Pirlini (Niagara, OHL)
This 6'2, 205 pound left winger played only 54 games this year but still managed to put up some decent numbers. He had 32 goals and 37 assists, better than a point a game average. Pirlini played on a bad team, that finished with a record of 24-35-3-6. He still managed to stay out of the red, finishing at an even on +/-.
"Perlini is a lethal combination of speed, puck skills, and hockey sense which allow him to make dynamic plays in all three zones. He plays a high puck possession game and thrives when the puck in on his stick." - EliteProspects.com
7th overall pick - Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax, QMJHL)
He's not the tallest player, but he is the most skilled of this group between 6th and 13th. He had 47 goals and 51 assists for 98 points in just 60 games played. He also ended the season as a +61.
Compare that to Sam Reinhart who is projected to go 1st overall in the draft, Reinhart had 97 points, with 34 of those as goals.
The Canucks need goals, but they don't need another Jordan Schroeder. Ehlers is 5'11, 160 pounds.
"Ehlers is an explosive player who can beat even the quickest defensemen wide with his speed. He plays on his off wing and creates chances with sharp cuts to the middle complemented by an explosive wrister. He's equally good with the puck and can handle it both at top speed and in traffic." - EliteProspects.com
8th overall pick - Jared McCann (S. Ste. Marie, OHL)
At 6'0 and 179 pounds, McCann is one of only 4 Centremen to be in the top 20 of the draft. He had 27 goals and 33 assists in 63 games playing for a solid team that went 44-17-2-5 in the regular season.
McCann is the last big name before the giant drop off in talent going into the 9th pick.
9th overall pick - Adrian Kempe (Modo, Swe.)
Another left winger, except this time, without the points. At 6'1, 187 pounds, Kempe ended the season with 5 goals and 6 assists in 45 games in the Swedish Elite League. Plus he's Swedish. Not sure the Canucks need any more of that flavour on the team.
10th overall pick - Haydn Fleury (Red Deer, WHL)
Just the second top rated defenceman in the draft behind Aaron Ekblad, Fleury is filling out nicely at 6'2, 207. He finished the year with 36 assists and 7 goals on the blue line. And no, his dad is not Theo.
"He's got good strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "He's composed and calm with the puck, and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments."
11th overall pick - David Pastrnak (Sodertalje, Swe)
Right wing, 8 goals, 16 assists. Canucks need goals. I'm not a scout, but there must be something amazing with these kids if they aren't getting any points.
“Pastrnak made the move from the Czech Republic to Sweden in hopes of furthering his career and was successful at the higher level of play. While his defensive game is still a work in progress — and he will need to add mass and strength to compete in North American pro hockey — he has the potential to be an effective scoring forward." - Hockeysfuture.com
12th overall pick - Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia, OHL)
It doesn't matter too much about how many points this kid puts up. He's faced some issues that might see him fall further down the draft for this up and coming defenceman. the Ontario Hockey League announced they had suspended the native of Sewell, N.J., eight games for violating the league’s harrassment, abuse and diversity policy. It's the second time this season the 18-year-old has been suspended for contravening the rule which attempts to keep homophobic, racist, sexist, and the other derogatory language used by small minds – out of the game.
In DeAngelo’s case, what he said was directed at a teammate. The team is tightlipped about what was said and to whom, but it was bad enough for Head Coach Trevor Letowski to take action without waiting for the league to intervene. And yes, that would be the same Letowski that had 42 points with Vancouver between 2001-2003.
“Internally as an organization we made the decision,” said Letowski, a former NHLer and graduate of the Sting. “It was obviously a serious matter. Any time it involves one of our players there has to be a certain respect level. We respect all of our players and it was pretty serious." - sports.yahoo.com
Oh yah, DeAngelo had 55 points on the back end but was a -30. We don't need another Alex Edler.
13th overall pick - William Nylander (Modo, Swe.)
See any trends in this draft? Nylander is in fact Swedish if you didn't guess from the fact he plays for Modo. He's also a left winger. There are 6 left wingers in the top 13 prospects. He played 22 games for Modo, had 1 goal and 6 assists and finished a -3. How is he even in the top 100 you ask?
According to EliteProspects.com, "He is a highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds. Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone.
On the other hand, his defensive game needs some work. Not a selfish player, but at times he tends to hang onto the puck for too long, instead of making the easier play. Has the tools and skills to lead his team in all offensive aspects."
So it appears draft position this year is critical for the Canucks, based off of the talent that is and most importantly, is not available. There is a steep drop off in point production between the 6th and 13th picks, which is exactly where the Canucks will find themselves before the end of the season.
Let's be clear about one thing though. In no way will the Canucks organization tell there players to go out and lose. Nor should they. You lose credibility with your players when you ask them to tank. What can be changed is who is playing in the last 4 games of the season.
Get the kids out there, get the back-up out there, and start losing. Because for Canucks fans, the NHL entry draft has never meant more than it does right now.