2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Marek Vanacker

Marek Vanacker (Photo: Brandon Taylor / OHL Images)
Marek Vanacker (Photo: Brandon Taylor / OHL Images)

The Scouting Report

Delhi, Ontario, Canada native Marek Vanacker is a world-class talent who looks to be a late first-round pick. He has the offensive tools to be successful, but he is a small forward by NHL standards. While his 6-foot-1 height is not an issue, he weighs in at only 170 pounds. He plays with his head on a swivel, constantly aware of where the puck is and his teammates. He is a player who could put up elite numbers for a team rebuilding or one that is on the cusp of making the playoffs. A player with great vision, his point production has greatly improved over the past two seasons. With the Brantford Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he went from 16 points in 2022-23 to 82 points this past season. Incredible upside.

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Draft Projection

Ranked #34 by Eliteprospects.com Ranked #25 by TSN/ Craig Button
Ranked #43 by Daily Faceoff Ranked #17 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Conrad Jack of Inside The Rink has Marek Vanacker projected at #47

I’ve highlighted some of Marek Vanacker’s attributes. Let’s take a deeper dive into his attributes and areas for improvement.

Offensively Gifted

Vanacker is a multi-purpose player who excels at every hockey skill. He is an impact player who delivers offense and can take over a game. The puck is on and off his stick in the blink of an eye, and he is an equal parts shooter and passer. His puck skills allow him to become an all-around player in his second OHL season. With Brantford this season, he had 36 goals and 46 assists for 82 points, he was a +7, and had 55 penalty minutes. He now has 40 goals in two seasons in the OHL.

High Hockey IQ

Vanacker’s high hockey IQ shows on the ice. He plays well in traffic, he knows when to shoot for rebounds, he skates where the puck isn’t and waits for an opportunity, and he reacts quickly in all three zones. His awareness in the offensive zone prepares him for chances with the puck. His neutral zone awareness allows him to transition with the puck when it hits his stick. His defensive awareness needs work but he is reliable enought to break up plays.

Areas for Improvement

Penalty Kill

Vanacker is talented enough to play a regular shift and both special teams units. However, if he wants to be a star in the NHL, he has to work on his penalty kill. At times, he can lack motivation in the defensive zone, allowing opposing players to skate around him and get clear shots on his goaltender. He could be more aggressive defensively, on the forecheck, and in the neutral zone. If he can get this together, he can be a steal of the draft.

Needs to build muscle, strength

With development comes changes, and Vanacker will need to work on his frame to be successful at the next level. His height of 6-foot-1 is average but solid, but he could use some work on his strength and add muscle before he gets to the pro level. Adding muscle and gaining strength will help him in the corners and the defensive end, positioning himself in front of opposing forwards. He plays a physical game now, but he will be playing against players who are bigger and stronger in pro leagues. Adding muscle and strength could benefit him in the long run, allowing him to fully develop and prepare him for punishment in the NHL.

Prospect Potential

Vanacker could be a second-line left-winger who has 30-goal-per-season potential. With the right organization and line-mates, he could be a consistent scorer every season. While he has the potential for a second-line role, he may see time in the middle-six. His ceiling is high, and, depending on where he goes, he could shine even above his potential. Could be in the 50-60 points a year range.

Best potential fit

While his rankings have him going anywhere from late first-round to early third-round, he will gain attention in the first round. If he is still there at #26, the Montreal Canadiens should take him. They needed offense and were at the bottom half of the league standings for most of the season. They need offensive, young players throughout their lineup, and he would be a great fit. He would make a great fit behind Jaroslav Svejkovsky and Nick Suzuki and contribute in more ways than one. If he goes to the Canadiens, he could be a potential scoring leader in the future. With Montreal, needing a bit of everything, this would be a huge get in turning things around for the offense.

Final thought

Vanacker is not elite at anything but is a top-tier scorer who can move the needle. When he is drafted, he could change the look of a franchise with his offensive skills. A consistent point producer, he could be seen as an early candidate for the Calder Trophy. With his goal-scoring ability, he will be the focus of the offense when on the ice. While his NHL team is yet to be determined, he could be a top-line player on any NHL team.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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