Photo: Belleville Bulls center Brendan Gaunce, the Canucks 26th overall pick last summer, was the first of four forwards taken by Vancouver with their five picks in 2012 (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
After another quick exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, it is no secret that the winds of change are blowing in Vancouver. General Manager Mike Gillis has frequently used the term “reset” to describe the focus of this off-season for the Vancouver Canucks. In truth, anything short of fulfilling that term would be disastrous for Gillis, with local media already quoting the new phraseology. In addition, a restless fan base has voiced their opinion and made it clear that they will not be satisfied with the status quo.
Photo: Nicklas Jensen, shown here skating for Team Denmark, is expected to return to North America after his season ends in the Swedish Elite League. (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
For the Vancouver Canucks organization, regular season success over the last half-decade has been a dual-edged sword. Winners of multiple President’s Trophies and continually atop the Northwest Division standings, any neutral hockey enthusiast might think it is crazy to label their success a bane. But on two levels, this success has presented challenges that few organizations would covet.
Photo: Defenseman Chris Tanev has been one of the best blueliners at both ends of the rink for the Chicago Wolves thus far in 2012-13. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Considering that the Chicago Wolves have played the fewest games in their conference to this point in the 2012-13 season, they are enjoying a modicum of success. Though currently sitting in 10th spot, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks is still within striking distance of a top five seeding.
Photo: Though the Columbus Blue Jackets added several important prospects this past off-season, none were more prominent than defenseman Ryan Murray, who was selected second overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Below is the bottom third of the NHL Team Rankings in terms of prospects as voted on by Hockey's Future staff. To determine the ranking, each team's entire prospect pool was taken into consideration. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Chicago Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack leads a shallow group of netminder in the Vancouver Canucks' prospect pipeline. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Had the NHL lockout not come to pass, it certainly would have been an interesting training camp in Penticton this season for the Vancouver Canucks. They have graduated a number of players over the past five years, leaving only a couple of select, higher-tier prospects to mature and come of age. With Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler still on the shelf after surgeries, it was shaping up to be an impromptu game of musical chairs to fill the holes left by Kesler’s and Edler’s convalescence.