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.
Photo: Zack Kassian celebrates his first goal as a member of the Vancouver Canucks following a midseason trade from the Buffalo Sabres. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
The Vancouver Canucks' prospect pool may not be considered deep, but the organization has a number of players that project well within the team's puck-possession system. The current roster, laden with veterans drafted by the club, has been carefully chosen out of necessity. The team's regular season success in recent years has forced the organization to pick near the end of each draft round but the system has been improved with shrewd scouting and astute free-agent signings.
Photo: Defenseman Kevin Connauton had a breakout season in 2011-12, managing 13 goals and 20 assists from the blue line. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
Finishing among the top teams in the NHL five of the last six years has taken a toll on the Vancouver Canucks prospect pool. Aside from having a perennially low draft spot, the organization has either traded or graduated most of their top prospects. Consequentially the Canucks inaugural prospect awards are dominated by mostly complementary and depth players, with winger Nicklas Jensen being the possible exception.