Two Vancouver Canucks prospects landed on the top 50 list that was compiled by Steve Kournianos of Sporting News.
No matter how you feel about Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, you simply can’t away the remarkable job he’s done at rebuilding his club through the draft.
There have been many ups and downs during Benning’s tenure here on the west coast. Sure, the Canucks have missed the postseason in four of his first five years, but the 56-year-old has slowly but surely built a promising new core for this team.
Benning landed goalie of the future Thatcher Demko (36th overall in 2014), All-Star sniper Brock Boeser (23rd overall in 2015), Elias Pettersson (fifth overall in 2017) and Quinn Hughes (seventh overall in 2017).
This year, Benning took Russian standout Vasili Podkolzin with the No. 10 pick. There’s another young stud that will play a key role in helping the Canucks transition towards Stanley Cup contention in short time.
Steve Kournianos of Sporting News listed his top 50 NHL prospects ahead of the 2019-20 season, and two Canucks made the list. Hughes and Podkolzin came in at No. 12 and No.15 on the rankings, respectively respectively.
Last year, Pettersson (No. 1), Hughes (28th) and Demko (30th) made Kournianos’ list. The former won the Calder Trophy this past season, while Demko obviously no longer qualifies as a prospect — now that he serves as Jacob Markstrom‘s backup.
Hughes was called up for five games at the end of last season for the Canucks, tallying three points. He dazzled with his world-class skating and superb puck-moving skills, and Hughes should be considered a favorite to win the Calder.
Podkolzin won’t be playing for the Canucks in 2019-20, as he has two years left on his current KHL deal. But given his tremendous skill set and high upside, it’s safe to say the wait will be worth it for Canucks fans.
Vancouver has an excellent and promising core in place. Now, it’s time for the group to come together and end a five-year playoff drought in 2020. As long as the young stars stay healthy and continue to get better over time, there’s good reason to believe they’ll push hard for a postseason berth.