Cody Hodgson the top pick in Vancouver Canucks’ 2008 draft class

By Larenzo Jensen
Prab Rai - Vancouver Canucks

Photo: Prab Rai, the Canucks' fifth round pick in 2008, has been limited by injury to just 31 ECHL games through three seasons thus far in his pro career. (courtesy of Kathleen Hinkel/Icon SMI)

Two players from the Vancouver Canucks 2008 NHL Draft remain in the system, defenseman Yann Sauve and center Prab Rai. Of the two, Sauve is the only one to get a taste of NHL hockey action, with a five game call-up in 2010. Perhaps one of the more prolific and discussed players drafted by the Canucks, Cody Hodgson’s arrival in 2008 provided local sports pages with material aplenty. Just as some drafts bring hope and anticipation, Vancouver's 2008 draft brought drama and intrigue, culminating in one of the biggest and most shocking trades in the NHL during the 2011-12 season.

Cody Hodgson, C, Brampton Battalion (OHL) – 1st round, 10th overall
Status: NHL Player (BUF)
NHL Games Played: 96

Cody Hodgson’s on-ice vision, and superlative puck control had scouts convinced that he was the real deal. Though he was not the largest physical specimen and his foot speed was not top notch, the Canucks scouting staff was sold on him, too. Eventually, though, a log jam of quality pivots, and the need for a physical, bruising forward would necessitate a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. Hodgson’s skill-set was always best suited as a first or second line center, and with Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler seemingly cemented in those roles, Hodgson’s future with the club became cloudy. Later, a misdiagnosed back injury stirred controversy about his compete level and dedication. All the elements were in place for a hockey deal: a dissatisfied head coach, a disgruntled player agent, and two teams lacking components that the other possessed. Now forever linked with Zack Kassian, Cody Hodgson is a bonafide NHL player, currently playing as the Sabres top line center alongside the NHL's leading scorer Thomas Vanek. Hodgson continues to fulfill all of the offensive promise he displayed when the Canucks drafted him 10th overall in 2008.

Yann Sauve, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) – 2nd round, 41st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 5

With the learning curve associated with being an NHL defenseman, there is often the likelihood of prolonged development. Yann Sauve, who still projects in the Vancouver Canucks' long-term plans, was once more highly touted than he is today. He may never fulfill the offensive upside that he showed prior to being drafted, but he still possesses the reliable traits of a dependable defensive player. Called up to play for the Canucks during the 2010-11 season, he played five games, with no goals or assists, and a minus-two rating. This year, he has shuffled between their AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves and their ECHL affiliate Kalamazoo Wings. In 12 games with the Wolves, he had no goals, one assist, a plus-two rating, and six penalty minutes. The third year pro has time on his side, as the Canucks currently have considerable depth at defense, with youngsters Kevin Connauton and Frank Corrado likely to earn a call-up earlier than Sauve. Conversely, because of the strong, physical traits and demeanor he brings to each game, he could still earn another cup of coffee at the NHL level.

Prab Rai, C/LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) – 5th round, 131st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: None

The verdict is still out on what Prab Rai’s future will hold within the Vancouver Canuck organization. During his final junior season as a Seattle Thunderbird, Rai hinted at his offensive potential with 69 points in 67 games during the 2009-10 campaign. Since then, hampered by a back injury and the rigors of adapting to pro hockey, the results have varied. The forward has always been known for his speed, but often that just is not enough to make it to the NHL. As he gains experience and perhaps some confidence playing with the ECHL Wings, his above-average skill-set could still land him an audition with the Canucks down the line. But before that transpires, they would most likely want to see more of a willingness to play in high-traffic areas, paired with more consistent offensive contributions.

Mats Froshaug, C, Linkopings Jr. (Sweden Jr.) – 6th round, 161st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: None

Froshaug was the prototypical late-round draft pick gamble. He had some exposure representing Norway at the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada. Prior to that, he had signed with Linkopings HC and began competing in Sweden’s premier junior league, the J20 SuperElit. He accumulated 36 points in 35 games, capturing the attention of the Canucks’ scouting staff. In 2008-09, while playing with Linkopings' Elitserien team, he was loaned to Lulea. Froshaug saw limited ice-time in Lulea and joined the Sparta Warriors in January 2009. One year later, it was announced that Froshaug was loaned out to his maiden club, Manglerud Star (Norway), for the remainder of the 2010 season. During the 2010-11 season, he skated with Lorenskog in Norway’s top level, the Get Ligaen, and was tied for fourth in team scoring with 15 goals, 14 assists, and 24 penalty minutes. Unable to make the transition to the North American style, Vancouver did not extend a contract, and Froshaug continues to toil for Lorenskog in Norway.

Morgan Clark, G, Red Deer Rebels (WHL) – 7th round, 191st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: None

Son of former Canucks goaltending consultant, Ian Clark, Morgan had a difficult road ahead of him were he to become an NHL starting goaltender. In his draft year, his lean, 5’11, 163-pound body meant he had to rely on quick reflexes and mobility, rather than a large imposing frame. While with the Red Deer Rebels, he may have been thrust into the spotlight too early. Their starter, current Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, suffered a high ankle sprain, so Clark got more work than anticipated. Clark played in 47 games, backstopping a weak Rebels defense. He went 10-30-3, with a 3.70 goals against average, and .884 save percentage. Clark was traded to the Swift Current Broncos the following year, but probably had his best statistical season as an overager with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL during the 2010-11 season. In 32 games, he compiled a 14-14-3 record, a 2.79 goals against average, and a .901 save percentage. Since then, he has played only seven games for St. Francis Xavier University in the Atlantic University Sport league. The Canucks did not offer a contract to Clark and he is no longer in the system.