Canucks building of a Stanley Cup contender

I was thinking the other day

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.


Is Canucks Willie Desjardins the right Coach for this team

Being a coach at any level will always be open to scrutiny. Right from Minor Hockey, where you get the parents questioning where and why their kids are not playing, to the Pros where the owners, management, media, and fans want to run the team.

Willie Desjardins is no different from any other NHL coach in that he also will be analyzed on his coaching tactics. I surely do not have all the answers and have only coached at the Minor Hockey and Industrial League level for 25 years.

I can tell you even at the above levels what takes place in the dressing room and interactions with players is different from the perception you get from being at a distance. Good coaches are great communicators/teachers and have analytical minds.

In that regard I try to understand why coaches make certain decisions because we’re not in the dressing room, or do we interact with the players. In saying all that I am puzzled at some of Willie’s decisions.

Right off the top, I like others, wonder about his utilization of the top scoring line which is not the Sedins (Daniel Pts/60 1.39) (Henrik Pts/60 1.52) but the Bo Horvat (Pts/60 1.79), Sven Baertschi (Pts/60 2.43), and Alex Burrows (Pts/60 1.61) line. All the Corsi and other stats point to them as being the go-to group.

Now unless Wilie is saving them for the last half of the season, why are they not getting more ice time five-on-five and on the 27th place power-play? It’s obvious that the Sedins are not the Twins of past years and thus should have their minutes reduced. Add to that, they would match up better with the other teams third line.

The match up at home is really the only place where a coach has much control  because on the road the home team has the last change. Use of the players is really strange at times, like Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund.

Sutter is a very versatile player, no doubt about that, but does he deserve more PP playing time (TOI 124.54) then Horvat (TOI 80.09)? On the power-play, shouldn’t the duo of Horvat and Baertschi be on the first team PP?

The imagination of the PP lacks big time and one can predict that if Henrik Sedin gets the puck on the half-boards, he will try to force the puck across a zillion sticks to Daniel. A definite high percentage play that very seldom works these days. Do they really practice that play?

For far to long this team has been to stationary and the puck movement, a turtle could pick off. The only D-man that moves along the blue line is Troy Stecher, who was replaced by Alex Edler.

I can understand the reluctance to break up the Horvat line but until Hansen returns, wouldn’t Burrows be a better fit? I remember Alain Vigneault saying that lines are basically duo’s with the third player being interchangeable.

That means that the lines are really the Sedins, Horvat/Baertschi, Sutter/Granlund, and Brendan Gaunce, with any one of a number of players. The rest should be slotted in wherever.

I’ll use Vigneault as my example because he is very good coach. He never was married to a line and knew after a couple of shifts which players were having a good night and who was off. The duo’s stayed intact but the third player could end up on any one of the four lines.

The goaltending continues to baffel me. Granted Ryan Miller is currently on a roll, but just when is Jacob Markstrom suppose to play? Is Markstrom the goalie of the future or not?

Anton Rodin, will he ever be given a six to eight game stretch to see whether he can help this team? Who really is making the player decisions?  It seems to me that the main goal of this team is to make the playoffs – but why?

Does ownership think a one-and-done will pacify the fans rather than a key draft pick? Or is the two home games revenue more important?

Is the management and ownership running this team or is the coach? Willie is under enough pressure to win now, lets nor ask him to create a miracle.

In closing, I return to my original question, is Willie Desjardins the right coach for this team? I have stated my thoughts on this, now its your turn.


Should Willie Desjardins be replaced?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


Ice Bits


Five wins in their last 20 road games is not the path to a Wild Card spot. Anton Rodin and Reid Boucher will not play tonight in Philadelphia. Ryan Miller will start again tonight in goal.

Jacob Markstrom has only started two of the last eight games since Christmas.

Bo Horvat enters tonights game leading the team in scoring with 13G, 16A, and a +1. On the PP he has 1G, 4A. He also leads the team with 2 short-hand-goals.

Sven Baertschi has the best +/- with a +6, followed by Luca Sbisa +5, Nikita Tryamkin and Chris Tanev +4.

PS. BTW on mobile devices if you land on the blog, at the top of that page choose Select Page/Home,

for more viewing and listening. Crank the volume up on the tune (which will change periodically), for the introduction to the starting lineup.

After eight years of submitting material for the Vancouver Sun’s Opinion/Community/Blog section, they have reformatted their entire content and discontinued with the Blogs.

So, I will stay here, on the work-in-progress updated website, and of course on my nucksiceman twitter account. 

Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports

Video Credits – YouTube

Stats Credits –,,,,,,,

Quote Credits – The Vancouver Sun and Province

To catch-all the news as it breaks, in ALL the sports, updates, line-odds and new articles as they occur, you can follow me at and here on this site. 


Clarity as the Canucks uncertainty unfolds

The Canucks clarity

is starting to become as clear as a fall day in Vancouver, after the fog has dissipated. The moulding of a first line has carefully evolved into Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Alex Burrows, although you wouldn’t know it.

In the last five games Horvat has only received 20 TOI in one game and that was against the Leafs. The others were 15, 19, 19, 18 rounded up.

Collectively that line’s plus/minus is +3 driven by Burrows +4. The Sedin line is a -23, Chaput’s line a -27, and Gaunce’s -16 depending who is playing. (more…)


Canucks 20 games and what we know

bo-horvat-in-action-468415744It’s come already, that Canucks 20 game mark

where we assimilate what this team is all about. Much of this you already know if you follow this team.

Now I could throw a whole bunch of Corsi stats to impress you but I’m still “old school” in that I also use my eyes and knowledge of the game to speak to me. So with that, I present to you what I’ve seen. (more…)


Canucks after 10 games Surprises Disappointments

daniel-sedin-and-habs620664966_231201828So here we are after 10 games into Canucks season 2016-17. They sit in seventh place spot tied with the Flames in the Wild Card entry with a record of 4W, 5L, 1OT. They also have lost six in-a-row which could be the longest this season – maybe.

In the Western Conference the Canucks are tied with the L.A. Kings with a -10 goal-differential. It’s no secret that the Canucks are offensively challenged. This reminds me of the 2006-07 season when they traded for Roberto Luongo, who kept them in low scroing games. (more…)


Canucks year number 46 and counting


So here we are, three games into year number 46 and the Canucks are 3-0 to start.


Only 79 more games to go before we find out whether this team will make the playoffs, or be in a position for the number one draft.

I kind of like the dark horse path, especially since most so-called media-in-the-know have picked the Canucks for a last place finish. Maybe a small wager on the over/under would be something to look into. (more…)