The Vancouver Canucks bolstered their farm system even more this year with the draft selections of blueliners Quinn Hughes and Jett Woo, and Sporting News ranked their unit as the third best in the NHL.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has received mixed reviews among fans and pundits during his first four years at the helm, but he’s surely given this team the deepest prospect pool in their history.
Led by the wonderful draft selections of Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and now Quinn Hughes and Jett Woo, Benning has built up a great young core that promises to restore the glory days in Vancouver over the next few years.
And according to rankings from Steve Kournianos of Sporting News, only the Buffalo Sabres (first) and Philadelphia Flyers (second), own better farm systems than the Canucks. Here is what Kournianos had to say about their prospect system:
"“Patience is far from a virtue in a hockey-crazed town like Vancouver, as poor performances on the ice have cost jobs and kept fans away from the arena. But brighter days most certainly are ahead for this once-dominant franchise, and drafting elite playmakers like winger Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes to help feed pucks to snipers like Brock Boeser and Jonathan Dahlen will shorten the time it takes to rekindle local interest.Additionally, the Canucks have two tremendous goaltending prospects in Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro. And defenseman Olli Juolevi continues to possess top-pairing potential even though a back injury will keep him on the sidelines for a few months.”"
Without a doubt, the Canucks have built up an elite farm system loaded with near NHL-ready players. In fact, it was also Kournianos who listed Pettersson as the best NHL prospect right now, even ahead of Rasmus Dahlin. Hughes came in at 28th on his rankings, while Thatcher Demko placed 30th.
Pettersson is set to join the Canucks after a historic season for the Växjö Lakers of the SHL, while Demko and Adam Gaudette could all play significant roles in 2018-19. Juolevi, as Kournianos pointed out, will need to recover from a back injury, so Canucks fans need to be patient with the 2016 first-rounder.
Benning also acquired another top prospect in Jonathan Dahlen from the Ottawa Senators in last year’s Alexandre Burrows trade. Dahlen appeared in two games for the AHL’s Utica Comets last season, so there’s optimism he’s not far off from the NHL.
Now, farm system rankings are purely opinion and obviously won’t have any impact on how the Canucks perform in 2018-19. It’s simply all fun and games, however, and it’s reassuring for fans to see just how loaded this team is in young talent.
Most of Vancouver’s top prospects aren’t all that far off from making the NHL, and this team could be a playoff contender before you know it. As long as Benning keeps stockpiling this team with more and more quality talent, the farm system will grow. And thus, the light at the end of the tunnel will get brighter and brighter over time.