Canucks acquire more fresh blood, make controversial trade on second day of NHL draft

The picks and trades came fast and furious for the Vancouver Canucks during Saturday’s full day of action at the 2019 NHL draft.

The Canucks started their day at Rogers Arena by acquiring Swedish forward Nils Hoglander in the second round as the 40th pick overall.

The 18-year-old left-winger had been positioned by some as a first-round pick before finding himself available in the second, which kicked off Saturday morning.

Hoglander comes off a 14-point season with Rögle BK that saw him score seven goals with seven assists, and is known as a creative player when handling the puck.

Speaking after his selection, Hoglander said he was happy to be coming to Vancouver.

“They’re good players,” he said. “I’ve talked to them before. Those talks went well. I’m happy to be here.”

Shortly after that pick, the Canucks made a controversial trade that snatched up J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In exchange, the club gave up goalie Marek Mazanec to Tampa with a 2019 third-round draft pick and a 2020 conditional first-round pick.

The 26-year-old Miller had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season and is seen as a versatile forward who can play all three positions.

“Miller is an experienced and versatile offensive contributor,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement. “This deal is about acquiring a player who can have an immediate impact in our top-six forward group for term.”

But critics said it was short-sighted for the Canucks to give away a future first-round pick to the Lightning, who were experiencing a salary cap crunch that was making it difficult to re-sign their centre Brayden Point, a restricted free agent.

The deal effectively frees Tampa from paying out the rest of Miller’s five-year, $26.25 million contract, which still had four years remaining.

The Canucks got Mazanec from the Nashville Predators in February but he did not play for Vancouver last season.

After the dust settled from the Miller trade, Vancouver made another exchange with the San Jose Sharks, trading forward Tom Pyatt and a sixth-round pick for left-winger Francis Perron and a seventh-round selection.

Both Perron and Pyatt spent last season in the American Hockey League, with the 23-year-old Perron scoring 47 points overall.

The Canucks then went to work on their picks, scoring 18-year-old forward Ethan Keppen from the Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds with the 122nd pick overall.

Speaking to reporters after donning his new jersey, the Whitby, Ont., native couldn’t contain his excitement and commitment to the team.

“Getting drafted by the home team is unreal,” Keppen said. “I don’t back down from anyone who wants to battle.”

Keppen spent two seasons with the Firebirds, racking up 59 points last season alone, including 30 goals.

Centre Carson Focht was next selected as the 133rd pick overall, getting scooped from the Calgary Hitmen.

The 19-year-old Regina-born Focht had an impressive 2018-19 season with the Hitmen, scoring 26 goals and 38 assists for a 64-point total.

The sixth round saw two more 18-year-old Europeans join the roster in Latvian goalie Arturs Silovs and Czech forward Karel Plasek.

On Friday, the Canucks selected 17-year-old right-winger Vasily Podkolzin of Russia with the 10th pick overall.

More deals are expected to take place up to the end of action at 6 p.m.

More to come…

—With files from the Canadian Press

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