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The Vancouver Canucks drafted Viktor Persson in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and early returns are saying it was an excellent swing in the last round of the draft.

There was a wealth of rumours surrounding the Canucks about them wanting to select a goaltender in the draft. Goaltending coach Ian Clark had his eyes on a few backstops but the team ultimately went with three defencemen, a winger and a centre. One of those goalies that I believe Clark was interested in was Vsevolod Skotnikov. Thomas Drance of TheAthletic reported that Joel Blomqvist was the goalie they had their eyes on but he went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the draft.

Though I thought the Canucks were going to go with Skotnikov in the seventh round, they ended up drafting Swedish right-shot defenceman Viktor Persson out of Brynas IF. Skotnikov is off to a great start with his KHL and VHL team and I heard that Clark was interested in a Russian goalie who was not on a lot of people’s draft boards. That means that someone in the Canucks organization really liked what they saw in Viktor Persson.

From watching his tape, there is a lot to like about this person named Persson. He is 6’2″, 192 pounds according to EliteProspects, and uses that size to aggressively attack opposition as they are coming down the wing on him. He is an offensive defenceman who fires a ton of shots on net and is eager to carry the puck up ice.

He possesses a strong wrist shot and loves to attack the net when given a bit of space. He gathers himself on his shot and is able to generate a ton of torque on his stick before releasing a pretty accurate shot.

His slap shot is also impressive. He uses it a lot on the power play as he’s quarterbacking the unit and if given enough space, he can unload it at even strength as well.

His offensive abilities are ahead of the rest of his game right now but there are things to like about how he plays the game. The kid is sassy, he is aggressive in nature during board battles and when he’s fighting to defend his crease. He keeps active with a busy stick in the corners. After beginning initial engagement, he sticks on his man like syrup to a pancake.

His J20 team in Sweden typically plays three games in a row on weekends and he was just on a five game point streak that snapped on Sunday when he was kept off the scoresheet.

Persson is an above average skater and he needs to be. One of his downfalls is his decision making on when to pinch into the offensive zone. He loves to get in tight and create scoring chances but that opens up a lot of chances for the opposition on a counter attack. Luckily for him, he is faster than most in his J20 Swedish league but his awareness of when to pinch is something that needs work before he becomes a pro in North America.

Speaking of North America, he will be here very soon.

One of the reasons why I really liked the Persson pick was that he is set to join the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL in January for the start of the WHL season.

Persson will get a chance to play in British Columbia and will make it easy for Canucks scouts and management to keep an eye on him and maintain constant contact with the prospect. It’s good news for Canucks fans throughout BC as well. They may be able to catch Persson live in action depending on what the WHL is going to do for having fans in attendance at their games.

It will be an interesting situation after he plays a couple years in the WHL. He could go back to Sweden but if he has a good CHL career, he could end up with the Utica Comets for the 2022-23 season. To take it to another level, he could return to Sweden for SHL action for the 2021-22 season if that is the best path for his development. I’m a bit biased, but I’d love for him stay in BC as I’m just a 15 minute drive away from the Langley Events Centre and hope to get a chance to learn more about this kid.

He is a long term project but this is the perfect seventh round pick for the Canucks. He is a smooth skating, tall, right-shot defenceman with offensive upside, and having him play in BC is the cherry on top. He’s not afraid to be physical and that will help him in the WHL. The path to the AHL is laid out in front of him. For now, he will continue to play with Brynas’ J20 team in Sweden. After that, he’ll report to Kamloops in January and begin to produce at the WHL level.


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