Canucks draft review

By Brendan Macgranachan

For the second time in four years, the Vancouver
Canucks chose a player out of Ohio State University of the CCHA with their
first pick in the entry draft. In 2000, the Canucks chose R.J. Umberger 16th overall in Calgary
at the Saddledome. This year, the Canucks chose centerman Ryan Kesler.
Kelser scored 11 goals, 20 and sat in the penalty box for 44 minutes in 40
games. His 41 points were good enough for fourth in Buckeyes scoring behind
Umberger (53), Leaf Prospect Scott May (35) and undrafted Paul Caponigri
(32). Kelser, a 19-year old, was ranked 16th among North American skaters going into the draft.

Outlook for Kesler: A solid sophomore year at OSU. Kelser said at the draft that he
see how his summer goes on where he’ll play hockey next year but is leaning
towards going back to school. Kelser need a bit more time to develop.
He is projected to be gritty third liner in the future.

Vancouver acquired a conditional draft pick from Phoenix
(60th overall) as part of the Brad May trade. The Canucks selected winger Marc-André
out of Halifax of the QMJHL with the pick. Bernier scored 29 goals on 58 points
to help the Mooseheads to a first-place finish in the Maritime division.
He also scored 9 goals and 9 assists to lead the team from Halifax to a
Eastern Conference title before bowing out to the Hull Olympiques. Bernier
was ranked 26th among North American skaters.

Outlook for Bernier: After a strong first full season with the Mooseheads,
Bernier will stay in junior for a few more years. A good pick by the Canucks
in the second round, but they won’t push him. Expect Bernier to stay on the east coast until his overage season.

The Canucks had no third round pick, so their third pick came in the fourth
round at the No. 111 slot. The Canucks chose ex-Jack Adams winner Ted
Nolan’s son, center Brandon Nolan. Nolan, a 19-year old had 88 points to finish
second, behind 100-point scorer Jamie Johnson. Nolan, who was selected by the
New Jersey Devils in the third round in 2001, failed to sign with the defending
Cup champs and re-entered the draft. Nolan had 36 goals in his 3rd full
season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.

Outlook for Nolan: Nolan has had three quality season with Oshawa and
his numbers show he is getting better every year, increasing his output 20 points every
year. Another good, solid pick by Vancouver and will be a goal scorer some day in the NHL.

Vancouver had seven more picks in the draft. Left winger Ty Morris was
selected 128th overall by Vancouver out of the St. Albert Saints of the
AJHL (Junior B). Morris had 47 points in his first year with the Saints,
playing with the Leduc Oil Kings (Midget AAA and Bantam AAA) for the last
four years. Then, at the 160th slot, the Canucks chose left winger Nicklas Danielsson
out of Sweden, the first of two Euros chosen by the Canucks. He had four assists in 26 games for Brynas.

The other European selection was forward Sergei Topol out of Russia,
with the 252nd pick (from Toronto). Topol had 16 goals, 5 assists in 45 games for Omsk.

Vancouver’s other selections were:

Chad Brownlee, D (190th overall, Vernon Vipers, BCHL)
Francois-Pierre Guenette, C (222th overall, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)
Nathan McIver, D (254th overall, Toronto St. Michaels, OHL)
Matthew Hansen, D (285th overall, Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

A solid draft for Vancouver, picking loads of talented players in one of the deepest drafts in years.