The Vancouver Canucks Drafting History — The Modern Era (2000-2013)


So, after the Canucks emerge from the brutal drafting strategies of Pat Quinn, Brian Burke takes over and makes an immediate splash by drafting not one, but two furture superstars for the team in Daniel and Henrik Sedin.  But would Burke continue his drafting success, or succumb to the mediocrity to which most of his predecessors eventually succumbed? In some ways yes, in other ways no.  Drafting R.J. Umberger was a great pick, but Burke’s stubbornness in contract negotiations allowed a young strong center with hands to walk away from the club.  Also, how would Duncan Keith look on the Canucks blue line next to Kevin Bieksa and Erik Karlsson? It could have happened.  And, when Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis take the team into the modern era, is there any reason to  be hopeful in Canuck nation?  Probably not.

While this is not an argument to bring back Brian Burke, Burke’s draft picks are very good compared to the rest of the motley assortment of GM’s who have managed this franchise.  Overall though, it is difficult to deny that the Canucks and the draft have had a malodorous relationship in the forty or so years of the team’s existence explaining, in part, why the team has never won a Stanley Cup.

DraftNotable Draft PicksCould Have Drafted?Analysis
2000Burke C Nathan Smith (23rd)C Brad BoyesTOR (24th)C Steve OttDAL (25th)RW Justin Williams (28th)Canucks go fishing for skilled center with size and miss out on two half decent skilled players, one in Ott who ends up in every trade rumor imaginable thirteen years later.  Williams helped the Kings win their first cup, eventually.  Canucks get some future Swiss-league players. D
2001BurkeC R.J. Umberger (16th)C Fedor Fedorov(66th)D Kevin Bieksa (151st)Nothing muchHow is it every time the Canucks draft a big power forward with skill, they can’t come to terms with him and end up losing him to another team?  Nothing wrong with the Umberger pick, and Bieksa becomes a stalwart blue-liner for the team at 151st overall.  Two bonafide top tier NHL’ers in one draft.  That’s a home run for Burkie even if Umberger would have allowed us to win a Stanley Cup against Boston.  A franchise of shoulda, coulda and woulda’s.  A
 2002BurkeD Kirill Koltsov (49th)D Denis Grot (55th)D Brett Skinner (68th)D Duncan Keith CHI (54th)Honestly, do the Canucks even interview these Russians before picking them with high draft picks?  How did Burke miss out on a kid who scored 82 points in 62 games while playing for the Penticton Panthers in favor of yet another obscure Russian who never stepped foot on North American ice? Again, the Canucks’ faliures to win cups begins with scouting.  This makes me sick. F
2003BurkeC Ryan Kesler (23rd)C Mike RichardsPHA (24th)RW Corey PerryANH (28th)C Patrice Bergeron(45th) Like the Linden year, the Canucks draft a solid prospect and future Selke winner, but have we ever considered what we missed?  Richards, Perry and Bergeron would all look pretty nice in a Canucks uniform, and have all won Stanley Cups while the oft-injured Kesler has fallen short.  No other draft picks play.  B+
2004BurkeG Cory Schneider(26th)D Alexander Edler(91st)RW Mike Brown(158th)D David Schulz (254th)

RW Jannik Hansen (287th)D Jeff SchultzWAS (27th)D Mike GreenWAS (29th)RW Johan FranzenDET (97th)G Pekka Rinne NAS (258th)

 Canucks draft the wrong Schultz in the 8th round instead of goaltender, Pekka Rinne a few spots lower, while the team could have drafted the reliable Jeff Schultz or the offensively gifted Mike Green, both of the Washington Capitals.  The ‘Nucks also draft the inconsistent Alex Edler with a chance to get cup winner Franzen, but do manage to land a steal in Jannik Hansen.  I applaud the scouts for drafting these assets, but I still can’t shake the feeling that they can’t seem to pick the winning horses. A-2005BurkeD Luc Bourdon(10th)LW Mason Raymond (51st)Anze KopitarLAK (11th)Marc StaalNYR (12th)Once again, a testament to the Canucks misfortune in the draft.  The team picks an absolute stud in Bourdon who had all the makings of a number one defenseman, and he dies tragically in a motorcycle accident.  Staal remains a stalwart with the Rangers and Kopitar wins a cup in LA. The enigmatic Raymond only scores when he sees the red “C” of Calgary, but not much else for anyone in this draft overall.  Frustration and tragedy continue for the club.  A2006NonisRW Michael Grabner (14th)RW Chris StewartCOL (18th)RW Claude Giroux PHA (22nd)Dave Nonis’ first draft results in drafting a Mason Raymond clone who is later traded for Floridian refuse Keith Ballard and Viktor Oreskovich, and forgettable late round picks.  The Grabner pick is widely criticized by those in the know, such as a bewildered Bob Mackenzie who explains that Grabner could have been taken in the second or third rounds.  The Canucks trade Grabs while the hulking Stewart goes on to have an impressive early career and the undeniably skilled Giroux is now the best French Canadian player in the league.  Absolutely terrible draft.  F2007NonisC Patrick White (25th)C David Perron STL (26th)Another batch of wasted picks who never make it to the NHL.  The Canucks take one of only six players to never see a game in the NHL.  A pick after White, the Blues select a gifted center who now represents the future of the team in Perron.  Dave Nonis shows little hope as an evaluator of talent.  F2008GillisC Cody Hodgson(10th)D Yann Sauve (41st)D Tyler MyersBUF (12th)D Erik Karlsson OTT (15th)C Derek StepanNYR (51st) Mike Gillis’s first draft yields his best pick at the 10 spot.  Hodgson is labeled as a future captain for his leadership abilities, the same leadership abilities which Gillis later openly questions when he dumps Hodgson to the Sabres for the thus far useless Zack Kassian.  Anyway you look at it, most Canucks fans wish that Gillis could identify the hole on the defensive end in 2008.B2009GillisC Jordan Schroeder (22nd)Ryan O’Reilly COL (33rd)Mike Gillis’s second draft yields virtually nothing, though the jury is still out on Schroeder.  Meanwhile O’Reilly, certainly on the radar for the team, has played over 200 NHL games. C2010GillisD Patrick McNally (115th)D Adam Polasek (145th)RW Brendan Gallagher MTL (147th)Without a pick in the first four rounds, Gillis manages to draft another Polasek, related to Libor in talent only. The other Canucks tradition of passing up on players playing junior level hockey in BC continues when they pass up on Vancouver Giants RW Brendan Gallagher, now playing for the Habs.  D2011GillisRW Nicklas Jensen(29th)G David Honzik (71st)RW Alexandre Grenier (90th)C Joseph Labate (101st)

D Frankie Corrado (150th)

 D David Musil EDM (31st)D Scott Mayfield (34th)By all accounts, Nicklas Jensen will be NHL ready in 2013, while the not-so-good Honzik and the hulking Grenier are sure to fill AHL affiliate roster spots next season.  Labate and Corrado represent Gillis’s new strategy of “off the board” picks. Prospects with size and upside like Labate and certainly Frankie Corrado have proven themselves of late.  Still would have liked the right handed offensively gifted defender Mayfield at 6’5″ as a prospect in this draft.  There he was…B-2012GillisC Brendan Gaunce (26th)C Alexandre Mallet (57th)F Wesley Myron (177th)C Henrik Samuelsson PHX (27th)The Canucks think Gaunce is a future third line center.  At this rate, that pretty much means now with Roy’s departure and Schroeder’s size deficiencies.  Still, Samuelsson is slightly ahead of Gaunce at this point in his development.  They play different positions, but with the team searching for big, powerful wingers who play solid two way games, passing up on the son of Ulf Samuelsson seemed tough to do.  By all accounts, Gaunce is projected as a slow footed center who wins faceoffs and shuts down other forwards.  Guessing he projects as a Manny Malhotra, ambitiously speaking.  The other prospects are still in development, but Mallet’s determination seems worthy of watching.B+Total average score 1970-1984:  CTotal average score 1985-1999:  C-Total average score 2000-2012:  C