By Zackery Robert
Heading to the Pacific Northwest we move to the beautiful province of British Columbia and look at the Vancouver Canucks franchise.
To start off we will take a look through Vancouver’s drafting history since their inception and first draft back in 1970 and focus on three players in particular who have helped shape this franchise for the better. First we will go back to the 1989 draft where all the way down in the sixth round at pick number 113 the Vancouver Canucks made a selection that would alter the face of their franchise and bring forward one of the most electrifying players and goal scorers in league history, Pavel Bure. Bure was a phenomenal player on the ice and was typically targeted by other teams goons to bring him down a notch, which unfortunately cut Bure’s career quite short only playing in 702 games, he won the Calder trophy in his rookie years and then one upped his rookie year in year two by scoring 60 goals and 110 points. Vancouver had a superstar on their hands, Bure would continue his 60 streak the following year in the 1993-1994 season where he scored 60 goals and 107 points. This season Vancouver made it to the Stanley cup finals and lost to the Rangers, however Bure was a dynamo scoring 31 points in their 24 games played. The injury bug would start in the 1995-1996 season where Bure would only play 15 games with 13 points. Unfortunately this was the start of his slowing down due to injuries he would score another 51 goals in his final season with Vancouver in 1997-1998 and would move on to Florida in the next season only playing 11 games due to injuries. He would however pick up his old form to win two Rocket Richard trophies with Florida before retiring in 2003. Bure was the most electrifying player in the Canucks’ history hands down and his impact will always be remembered by the Canucks fandom. His jersey was retired by Vancouver in November of 2013.
Moving along to the 1999 draft where we will talk about the second and third most influential Canucks players of all time. Daniel and Henrik Sedin were drafted second and third in 1999 respectively and would become Canucks legends by the end of their careers. Making their Canucks debut in the 2000-2001 season Daniel and Henrik put up similar numbers throughout their careers with Henrik leading them and the Canucks franchise in points with 1070 and Daniel leading his brother in goals with 393. Daniel would also win an Art Ross trophy and Ted Lindsay trophy in the 2010-2011 season when finished with 104 points that year. His brother Henrik accomplished the same feat just one year prior in 2009-2010 when he won the Art Ross trophy and Ted Lindsay trophy when he scored 112 points that year. It’s almost spooky how similar their careers emulated each other. Both brothers would put up good points in the Canucks’ cup run in 2011, eventually losing to the Bruins in the finals. They would both retire at the end of the 2018 season putting their playing careers as Canucks from 2000-2018. Both Daniel and Henrik would have their jersey numbers retired by Vancouver in February of 2020.
Moving along to picks that did not pan out for the Canucks, first up is one of the more recent picks for the Canucks in 2016 fifth Olli Juolevi. Juolevi struggled to say the least after he was drafted, he made his Canucks debut four years after being drafted in 2020 where he played in 23 games scoring three points. After that he would t pave up his skates for the Canucks again. In 2021 Juolevi was traded away to the Florida Panthers for a small return. He has still struggled to gain NHL ice and currently played this most previous season in the AHL.
Next we will move to the 1986 draft where Vancouver held pick number seven and went with centre Dan Woodley. Woodley’s career in the NHL with the Canucks was very short, five games is what he played, he scored two goals in those five games and then was never able to make it back on an NHL roster. Woodley would then play out his career in the AHL, IHL, ECHL, and CoHL until his retirement in 1995. It was a rough pick to make because when looking back at the 1986 draft you will see that two picks later the New York Rangers selected eventual 1994 Conn Smythe winner Brian Leetch.
The last player to talk about for this part is that of 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft Luc Bourdon. The defenseman out of New Brunswick played within the organisation from 2006-2008 and in that time he played 36 games for the Canucks where he registered two goals. He had a hard time making his case to be on the big club and would spend the majority of his time in Manitoba playing for the Moose which was the Canucks AHL affiliate at that time. After the end of the 2007-2008 season Bourdon would hang up his skates professionally. The 2005 draft is famous for being the Sidney Crosby draft and for good reason but there were also some other east good players like Carey Price at number five and then at number 11, one pick after Bourdon at 10, was kings captain and future hall of famer Anze Kopitar.
Today the Vancouver Canucks are kind of in a limbo-like state, they have good players all around but cannot seem to make things go smoothly, everyone expected them to be good contenders this year but they don’t even make the playoffs. Their captain was traded to New York and it looks like the team can go either way, the basement or the penthouse. Luckily for them they chose the right draft to get a high pick in, they have a total of seven picks, 1st, 3rd, 3rd (TOR), 4th, 4th (DET), 4th (NYR), 6th. With their first pick they will wind up choosing 11th. At 11 you have plenty of good options and right now with Vancouver and their prospect pool it looks a little too heavy and less down by the blue line. Some potential blue line options around the top half of the round could be Axel Sandin Pelikka, David Reinbacher or Tom Willander and if they choose to go forward with what happens in the draft a good option for them would be Nate Danielson, a good dependable two way centre with the potential to be a good first line centre.
For more information on the 2023 NHL Draft class be sure to pick up your copy of the comprehensive DraftPro 2023 NHL Draft Guide.