The Best Vancouver Canucks First Round Picks: Part Two

Vancouver Canucks Draft

We started talking about the Vancouver Canucks draft picks, we paid little heed to the spacing needed. After all, in 51 years of drafting there should be quite a spread of players selected through all 31 spots. Right? Well, after covering 15 players in the first chapter we have 16 more here. When a team has had more than half their picks in the top-10 spots, it’s a reminder of just how bad they’ve been.

And on that cheery note, let’s go from controversy to controversy with picks six through 10!

Best First Round Vancouver Canucks Draft Picks

Sixth Overall

Choices: Jake Virtanen

When “best” is “only” then the range is limited. But that’s not to say Virtanen has been swept under the rug, here! “Shotgun” Jake has become a symbol of GM Jim Benning‘s tenure, for better or worse. Virtanen was a controversial pick the instant he was selected, though not as controversial as some remember. The team wanted a big, hard-hitting winger who could score, and that’s pretty much what they got. The sore point is the players selected after him. The scoring winger picked sixth-overall is currently sitting 24th in actual scoring for his draft year.

Verdict: Virtanen

Seventh Overall

Choices: Rick Lanz, Dan Woodley, Alek Stojanov, Quinn Hughes

Woodley had a 5-game cup of coffee, but couldn’t quite establish himself as an NHLer. Lanz had a decent career with Vancouver and still sits in their top-10 scoring for defencemen. But for current fans, he’s a trivia answer. “Who was traded away to bring defenceman Jim Benning to the Canucks?” Even with that historical quirk, Lanz is overshadowed by two other players here. Alek Stojanov’s greatest claim to fame is to be traded one-for-one for Markus Naslund, who became the Canucks’ all-time leading scorer before he left. The other?

Verdict: Hughes. Sure, it’s only been one year, but seriously.

 Eighth Overall

Choices: Jason Herter

Herter was the third defenceman taken in the first round of 1989. None of them were Adam Foote, taken in the second. If that doesn’t sum up why teams spend on scouting nowadays, nothing will.

Verdict: Herter by default.

Ninth Overall

Choices: Bob Dailey, Cam Neely, Bo Horvat

What about Bob? The 6′-5″ Dailey had a perfectly solid nine-year career between Vancouver and the Philadelphia Flyers. But this choice comes down to the reason why people are reluctant to move Virtanen “too early” and the current captain and playoff star. Neely, of course, became a terrifying three-time 50-goal scorer with the Boston Bruins before injuries ended his career. The Canucks got a point-per-game forward for him (and a first-round pick) but the regret is always there. Horvat should need no introduction after his ten goals in 17 playoff games for 2020. He’s spent the last five years improving his points-per-game while being handed the team’s hardest minutes. Captain for a reason. But he’s going to have to go a long way to reach Neely’s 395 goals in just 726 games – including 50 in 49 games in 1993-94.

Verdict: Cam Neely

Tenth Overall

Choices: Rick Blight, Garth Butcher, J.J. Daigneault, Brad Ference, Luc Bourdon, Cody Hodgson, Vasili Podkolzin

The most common drafting position for Vancouver, oddly enough. We were expecting something in the 20s, especially given how many years the Canucks played with only 21 teams in the league. But the years of being not very good as compared to actively bad shine through here. The players selected here were mostly… fine. Injuries prevented Hodgson from reaching his potential; Ference managed 250 NHL games, though none with Vancouver. Blight had three productive seasons before fading out. Bourdon’s career was, unfortunately, cut short. Podkolzin, of course, has yet to play for the team – and barely for his KHL one

This leaves two choices. Daigneault, who had 899 NHL games and 250 points with ten teams in 16 years, and Butcher. Butcher may have had two fewer games and 44 fewer points, but he left a lasting impression – as his more than 2,300 penalty minutes in 14 years can attest.

Verdict: the appropriately-named Garth Butcher.

Up next: Lots of years, few picks. The Vancouver Canucks draft slots 11 through 20 coming up.

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