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: Vancouver forward Jordan Schroeder earned his first substantial NHL time in 2012-13, shoring up the Canucks depth down the middle when injuries knocked Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra out of the lineup (courtesy of Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)
Although it may seem that the Hockey’s Future writing staff are constantly critiquing and evaluating NHL team prospects, there is a flip-side as well. We always strive to give credit where it’s due, and this portion is a tip of the hat to Vancouver Canucks prospects in their endeavors to reach the acme of their profession. Based on their efforts from the 2012-13 season, the following is in acknowledgment of that pursuit.
Photo: Cam Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who has seen regular time in the lineup for Columbus during the 2013 NHL season (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Welcome to the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
Photo: Timely scoring from Wisconsin sophomore Joseph Labate was key for the Badgers down the stretch before the team fell to UMass-Lowell in the first round of the NCAA tournament (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
Hockey pundits dubbed the Vancouver Canucks' 2012 NHL Entry Draft selections as "off the board" after their first round selection of Brendan Gaunce. In retrospect, Canucks scouts and management did their utmost to ensure that their later round selections followed several criteria: big, gritty, with a hint of untapped potential.
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.