about the length of time it has taken to build a Canucks’ Contender throughout its history. It takes successful drafts, trades, and a bit of luck to build a contender, which I categorize as making the playoffs.
From the time the Canucks entered the league in 1970 until they won the Smythe Division in 1974/75, they had drafted 40 players. These eight – Don Lever, Dennis Ververgaert, Paulin Bordeleau, Bob Daily, Bobby LaLonde, Ron Sedlbauer, Harold Snepts, Jocelyn Guervremont, played on that 74/75 team.
First round draft choices Don Lever (1972) and Dennis Ververgaert (1973), finished second and fourth respectively in team scoring that season. To finish out the ’70’s, in 79/80 they finished third with 14 draft choices on that team.
As we move into the ’80’s with 21 teams in the NHL,
just about everyone made the playoffs since 16 teams qualified. Canucks made the playoffs in 81/82, 82/83, 83/84, 85/86, and 88/89.
A total of 120 players drafted in the 80’s. Among those were franchise players Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure, that the Canucks didn’t keep around long enough.
Cam Neely was their biggest blunder in history by not waiting for this Hall of Fame player to develop. Also, several drafts that did not pan out – Dan Woodlay, Robert Murphy, Dane Jackson.
In among them were contributing players like Rick Lanz, Marc Crawford, who became a coach in the ’90’s and Doug Lidster, just recently an assistant coach with the Canucks. Garth Butcher, Petri Skriko, Maurice LeMay, Michel Petit, JJ Daigneault, and Jim Sandlack round out that list.
That Cinderella trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1982 had 10 players of which goaltender Glen Hanlon, was part of that ’82 team. Stan Smyl (3rd round) and Curt Fraser (2nd round) finished second and fourth respectively in team scoring.
As well documented, Hanlon did not play in those playoffs
as Richard Brodeur played in all the games. To show you how quickly a team changes, out of the 10 players drafted that were on the ’82 team, only six had played on the 79/80 one.
Yes, some of those four other draft choices were traded for experienced players, but It would make this article to long to go into all of those details. The team in 1981/82 Cup Final, finished with a record of W30, L33, T17 for 77 points in 80 games. In fact that season the Canucks finished 11th in the league.
So that wasn’t a true contender when you look at the Oilers 111 points, New Your Islanders 118, and Montreal’s 109. But, it does show that if you make the playoffs – any thing can happen.
The ’90’s for the team was a mixture of success and failures both in drafting and the playoffs. Over that period, 116 players drafted.
Five times they made the playoffs, once to the Stanley Cup Final (1993-94), but from 95/96 to 98/99 they went through a four-year period of missing the playoffs.
Drafted players from the 80’s became top line players as Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure,
were in the top five in team scoring for much of the ’90’s. New draftees’ like Petr Nedved, Danny Kesa, Jiri Sleger, Gino Odjick, Michael Peca, Adrian Aucoin, Mattias Ohlund, Scott walker, Dave Scatchard, and Bill Muckalt, would go on to play for the Canucks.
Draft choices Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Gino Odjick, and Shawn Antoski did form a part of the 93/94 Stanley Cup Final team.
New scoring leaders would emerge as Alex Molgilny, Markus Naslund, Mark Messier, Pavel Bure, Brendan Morrison, Todd Bertuzzi, entered into the team’s top five scorers. Four of the drafted players would end up in the top seven in team scoring, but veterans were the leading scorers right into the early 2000’s.
Franchise leaders, the Sedin’s, would be drafted in 1999, which would forever change this team for the next 12 seasons.
As we enter into the era of 2000-09,
this became the Canucks most successful. There were 110 draft picks.
Along with the success also came the later round draft picks starting with R.J. Umberger, Feder Fedorov, Kevin Bieksa, Jason King, Ryan Kesler, Cory Schneider, Alex Edler, Mike Brown, and Jannik Hansen. Mason Raymond, Michael Grabner, Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Anton Rodin, Peter Schaefer, and Kevin Connauton, are also drafted.
Unfortunate circumstances also came into play for draft picks, as first round draft choice Luc Bourdon, met with his death in a motorcycle accident. Another player, Yann Sauve, he a second round pick at number 11, was a pedestrian involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Although he recovered from his injuries and stayed in the organization for several more seasons, he never did reach his potential, and left.
Starting in 2000/01, the Canucks made the playoffs in six of those seasons. The West Coast Express line of Brendan Morrison, Markus Naslund, and Todd Bertuzzi, would be in the top five team scorers.
Included with these top six scorers were draft picks Matt Cooke, The Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, and a player that became one of the Canucks best non-drafted players – Alex Burrows.
Which brings us into the current era of 2010 – 2017,
with 53 players drafted of which 12 have played to-date, and another Stanley Cup Final in 2011. In that 2010/11 season, 17 drafted players appeared in NHL games.
In the Stanley Cup Final run 10 drafted players participated. Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Mason Rayond, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, Cody Hodgson, Chris Tanev and Cory Schneider. That’s how important the draft choices are in building a contender.
The core from 2010/11 kept the Canucks in the playoffs for four of the following five seasons. With not making the playoffs in the two past seasons and the rebuild taking shape, the future has slowly shown up in the drafting and trades.
Niklas Jensen (traded for Emerson Etem and a 6th rd pick), Alex Grenier, Joseph Labate, Frank Corrado (lost on waivers), Brendan Gaunce, Ben Hutton, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk (traded for Markus Granlund), Cole Cassels, and Jordan Subban.
Starting with the Trevor Linden/Jim Benning hiring:
Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann (traded for Erik Gudbranson, plus a 2nd & 4th rd picks to FLA), Thatcher Demko, Nikita Tryamkin (RFA, did not resign), Gustov Forsling (traded for Adam Clendening, who later traded with Nick Bonino, brought Brandon Sutter).
Mackenzie Stewart, Brock Boeser, Guillaume Brisebois, Adam Gaudette, Oiil Juolevi, Will Lockwood, Cole Candella, Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind, Johan Gadjovich, Michael DiPetro, and Jack Rathbone round out the prospects, and a fine list they are.
At the trade deadline of the 2016/17 season, Alex Burrows was traded for prospect Jonathan Dahlen and Jannick Hansen was traded for Nikolay Goldobin.
In my opinion, this past entry draft was the best I’ve seen since 2004, and by the numbers, may to turn out to be the best in history!
So, as the Canucks’ faithful enters into a new rebuild and looking at the draft picks since 2011, I do see, between the drafts that have accumulated, trades made, and additions, a promising future. Let’s not forget that recently, they have yet to win that first round pick for a franchise player, which could catapult this team into a contender within three years.
Just look what Auston Matthews, drafted in 2016, did for the Leafs team.