As the NHL drags into the Dog Days of… November, we guess? And news from specific teams slows to a trickle – with the occasional very unwelcome break – what do we do? Traditionally, it’s a chance for fans to look forward to the upcoming Vancouver Canucks draft prospect. And not just because they missed the playoffs again and they’re trying to forget! Each upcoming draft also provides more ammo to fight each other with over who’s doing the worse job. The options never change, even if the faces do: the scouts, the coaches, the GM, or the owners? In a weird quirk, fans of the Canucks rarely blame the players themselves. Even Loui Eriksson and his disastrous contract will draw cheers when he produces points – or beats out an icing call. They’re a weird bunch.
The Best First Round Vancouver Canucks Draft Picks
Over 51 years, the Amateur Draft has provided Canucks’ fans with hope, drinking excuses, and brickbats. It’s never more so than with the first-round selections. A pale reward for the frequently-lousy team, but if they can’t win the Stanley Cup it’ll have to do. Let’s take a look.
First Overall Pick
Never happened, never will. Sure, the draft hope is real, but getting first overall is a fantasy.
Tallon, of course, is the first Canuck selected in the amateur draft back in 1970. Even then, he’s best known for not being Gilbert Perrault. For those of you who insist a team be built from the defence out, neither Vancouver nor their expansion cousin Buffalo Sabres has managed a Stanley Cup win. Call that one a draw. Nedved didn’t stick around when the team decided to play contractual hardball with a guy who defected from communist Czechoslovakia at 17. Really, it’s down to Linden or Sedin. The first Canuck to break 1,000 games with the team and long-time captain? Or the highest goal-scorer in team history?
Verdict: Linden. We’re going with the 30-goal rookie and the impact he made on the city from Year One.
A couple of weird notes about the Canucks’ third-overall picks. Ververgaert was the first of three straight Montreal Junior Canadiens the Canucks drafted in 1971. They had three third-overall picks in a row in 1971, ’72, and ’73 – not as part of a deal with the NHL, they were just that bad – then not again until 1999. As a result of Brian Burke’s manipulations that year, they got half of the best brother act in the NHL.
Verdict: Sedin. Come on.
With all apologies “House” who both started and finished his career with the Canucks, Sandlak’s greatest utility may have been when he was traded to complete a deal for Murray Craven. He did have one very good year in the playoffs, but big defender Bryan Allen had the longer career. Plus his trade helped bring Roberto Luongo to town.
Verdict: Allen by an inch (Sandlak was just 6′-4″).
A much better set than the previous bunch, this is going to be a very memorable draft slot. Pettersson for Vancouver and Vaive for the Toronto Maple Leafs, to whom he was traded after just 47 games. Vaive went on to be Toronto’s first 50-goal scorer in team history, a mark he hit three times with them. Oh, he was also made team captain. And he went with Derlago (see above). But Vancouver got league penalty leader Dave “Tiger” Williams! So, uh… Yeah. Vaive was a great player, but he’s Toronto’s history. Fortunately, Vancouver has a legend in the making in the same slot.
Verdict: Pettersson. Juolevi is an interesting story of his own. We’ll dig into his history soon, but he is expected to make the team this season.
Coming up, the best Vancouver Canucks draft picks in the sixth through tenth positions.