Canucks 2005 draft evaluation

By Ben Bebernitz

Five years later, the 2005 draft class of the Canucks is known for two players: Luc Bourdon and Mason Raymond. Unfortunately, one of these players is remembered for something tragic that happened off the ice. The Canucks drafted six players in 2005 — two defensemen, two centers, one winger, and a goalie. Collectively, this group has played 241 NHL games with an overwhelming majority going to Mason Raymond.

The Canucks did not have a third-round draft pick in 2005 because they used this pick to perform a trade to move up in the previous year’s draft. In the 2004 draft, the Canucks moved up to 91st overall to select Alex Edler, now a member of their top defensive pair. The Stars used the pick in 2005 on Richard Clune. Clune has only played 14 NHL games in comparison to Edler’s 253 games.

Luc Bourdon, D, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL) – 1st round, 10th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 36

After a solid season with Val-d’Or, Bourdon was the sixth-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting in 2005. For a team that is always looking for a franchise defenseman, they pinned their hopes to Bourdon with the 10th overall pick. The next season after the draft, Bourdon returned to the QMJHL where he played an injury-plagued season for both Val-d’Or and Moncton. He played the first nine games of the season in 2006-07 for the Canucks before he returned to the QMJHL. It was another season with two QMJHL teams for Bourdon. This time, it was Moncton and Cape Breton where he played 36 regular-season games total.

After Cape Breton was eliminated from the playoffs, Bourdon started his pro career, albeit on a tryout contract, with Manitoba in five scoreless playoff games. He started the 2007-08 season with Manitoba, but bounced back and forth between the Moose and the Canucks due to injuries on the NHL team. He finished the regular season with the Canucks and played the playoffs with the Moose as the Canucks did not make the postseason. Bourdon had six goals and 14 points in 47 total games with the Moose and two goals in 27 games with the Canucks.

Bourdon had a chance to make the Canucks in the 2008-09 season. However, on May 29th, 2008, Bourdon was driving his newly-purchased motorcycle in New Brunswick during gusty conditions. He lost control of his Suzuki, crossed the center line, struck a tractor-trailer, and was killed instantly. Bourdon was 21. The hockey world mourned his loss while the Canucks and the Moose would honor him throughout the 2008-09 season. The Canucks have established at General Motors Place the Luc Bourdon Wall of Dreams. The Canucks players still remember Bourdon as witnessed by Alex Burrows’ goal celebration in the playoffs this year in the clinching game against the Kings. 

Mason Raymond, LW, Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) – 2nd round, 51st overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 203

Raymond, 24, proved this past season that his selection could be a very good one. The speedy winger notched 25 goals and 28 assists in all 82 games. He was playing as a top-six forward almost all season with Ryan Kesler and, usually, Mikael Samuelsson. However, it took Raymond awhile to get to this point.

After leaving Camrose, Raymond played two seasons in the NCAA for University of Minnesota-Duluth. He had a good freshman season, but really developed the next season. He scored more than a point per game in 2006-07. After his season with Minnesota-Duluth ended, Raymond signed his pro contract and began to play in Manitoba. He scored five points in 24 games, including 13 playoff games, for the Moose that season. In his first full pro season, Raymond made the Canucks out of training camp. He spent some time with the Moose that season, but a majority of his time was with the Canucks. He scored nine goals and 21 points in 49 games in 2007-08. In 2008-09, he would get off to a hot start with 10 points in 13 games, but only scored another 13 in the next 59 games.

After this past season, Raymond’s contract has expired. He will be a restricted free agent and will be in line for a raise after potting those 25 goals. There have been some rumors that the Canucks may think about trading Raymond to improve the team. These rumors have started due to the salary cap and the readiness and the similar playing style of Michael Grabner, their 2006 first-round pick.

Alexandre Vincent, G, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) – 4th round, 114th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Vincent, 23, is the only definite bust of this draft class. He had a very solid season with Chicoutimi the next season after the draft. He moved on to Val-d’Or in 2006-07 and had a very difficult season. After their season ended, he only played two games for Victoria in the ECHL.

The Canucks decided to not sign him to a contract after that season and renounced their rights to him. Since then, Vincent has not made it close to the NHL. He has played the past three seasons for three different teams in the Central Hockey League.

Matt Butcher, C, Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) – 5th round, 138th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Butcher, 23, is still considered to be a prospect, but he may be close to being a bust. The son of former Canuck Garth Butcher, he spent another season with Chilliwack in 2005-06 where he put up great offensive numbers there. After that season, Butcher decided to try his luck at college hockey in the U.S. He enrolled at Northern Michigan University.

His college career started slow with only four points in 40 games during his freshman season. Butcher’s development sloped upward with a very good sophomore season with 23 points in 44 games. Unfortunately for him, injuries have taken their toll the past two seasons with only 41 games played in total. Butcher played the role as a grinder in his time with the Wildcats. He graduated from Northern Michigan recently and is waiting on whether the Canucks will offer him a contract.

Kris Fredheim, D, Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL) – 6th round, 185th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Fredheim is in the same exact boat as Butcher. He is still considered a prospect, but may be bordering on the bust category. Fredheim, 23, also has gone a similar path as Butcher. After the draft, Fredheim returned the Notre Dame Hounds for another season. He enrolled at Colorado College the next season.

With the Tigers, Fredheim certainly did not light the world on fire. He did not play in a full season once, but did see his point total increase each season. This past season, he had 16 points in 36 games. He would leave Colorado College and sign with the ECHL affiliate of the Canucks, Victoria, for their playoffs. He had one assist in five games.

The Canucks hold his rights until Aug. 15.

Mario Bliznak, C, Spartak ZTS Dubnica (Slovakia) – 7th round, 205th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 2

Bliznak has shown himself to be the best of the four late-round selections so far. While not known as a dynamic scorer, Bliznak recognizes his role and has been rewarded, to some degree, by the Canucks. Bliznak received his first NHL taste this past season with two scoreless games.

The 23-year-old wanted to take his game to North America right after being drafted. He was also selected in the CHL Import Draft that year. He played the next three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. While being more of a defensive forward, he only had one high-scoring season in juniors in 2007-08. He also played for Slovakia in the 2007 World Junior Championships. He arrived for his first pro season in 2008-09 with Manitoba. He netted 10 goals and 21 points in 85 total games. This past season, he improved on those totals with 15 goals and 31 points in 82 total games with the Moose.

With the Canucks having many free agents on the third and fourth line, there is a chance, albeit slim, that Bliznak could spend some time with the Canucks next season.