Canucks 2007 draft preview

By Matt MacInnis

Canucks Top 10 Prospects

1. Luc Bourdon, D
2. Cory Schneider, G
3. Alexander Edler, D
4. Michael Grabner, RW
5. Kirill Koltsov, D
6. Mason Raymond, LW
7. Daniel Rahimi, D
8. Jannik Hansen, RW
9. Juraj Simek, RW
10. Sergei Shirokov, LW

Team Needs

With the acquisition of Roberto Luongo at last year’s NHL Draft, the Canucks effectively solved their historic issues between the pipes for the foreseeable future.  Also, because of Luongo’s tremendous work ethic and ability to play a huge proportion of the games, it also has reduced the need to have an upper-echelon backup. 

Defensively, the Canucks currently have one of the strongest top fours in the league, but lack a true specialist to quarterback the power play and the most likely candidate in the system, Kirill Koltsov, appears destined to play out the duration of his career in the Russian Super League at this point and may never don a Canucks jersey. 

Up front, the Canucks have significant problems with scoring.  Outside of the Sedin twins, none of the Canucks forwards consistently generated offensive chances last season and the lack of depth firepower was even more apparent during the team’s 12 playoff games.  The decline this season of Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison has ushered in an increased need for depth at the forward position.

Organizational Strengths

Overall the Canucks have a fairly weak group of prospects that was recently rated 21st in the NHL by Hockey’s Future.  The best attribute of the group is a steady crop of defensive prospects in the system led by the team’s top prospect, Luc Bourdon.  Bourdon has probably had one of the least stable experiences over the past two years since being drafted.  He has played for Val d’Or, the Canadian World Junior team, Moncton Wildcats, the Vancouver Canucks, the Wildcats again, a second tournament with the Juniors and finally the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Bourdon has the potential to be a two-way top pairing defender although he could benefit from some stability which he will hopefully have during the 2007-08 season.  Concern has been expressed about his instincts, but Bourdon has shown in the past that he excels when given a specific role to play.  He’s a very young defenseman and strong coaching will help to improve his decision making.

Big Swede Alexander Edler proved he was an NHL-caliber defenseman during his spot duty in the big show last season.  He is another two-way blue liner and likely has an inside track to an NHL job going into training camp. 6’3, 215 lbs hard-nosed Swede Daniel Rahimi is another steady asset in the system who loves to play an aggressive, physical style.  He is expected to play in the AHL next season with the Moose.

The big wildcard is Koltsov, one of the most talented players not in the NHL.  Having recently signed a contract in Russia worth a rumored $1.7 million USD, the odds of him traversing the Atlantic appear unlikely.  The Canucks also have depth prospects such as Nathan McIver, Kris Fredheim and Patrick Coulombe in the system.

Organizational Weaknesses

After the 2005 Draft, it looked like the Canucks’ future between the pipes was secure with Cory Schneider, Julien Ellis, Alexandre Vincent and Lukas Mensator.  But the latter three goaltenders have failed to develop nearly as well as expected and Vincent never signed a contract with the team.  Schneider has refused to commit to date to turning pro, leading to rumors that he wants his rights traded or he will instead opt for free agency next summer.  If that occurs, the Canucks will have just Drew McIntyre as a goaltender likely to have NHL potential at this point.

However, the most glaring weakness in the system is at center where the Canucks do not have a single prospect with decent offensive potential.  With only Henrik Sedin living up to expectations on the big club right now, there is a very real need in the present and in the future for a quality playmaking center. 

While the Canucks do have Michael Grabner and Mason Raymond as well as Jannik Hansen and Juraj Simek on the wings, Grabner is the only one likely to score 30 goals at the NHL level and he definitely has his own question marks at this juncture of his career. 

Overall the Canucks need to add a significant amount of scoring potential to the prospect cupboard and the general expectation for the 2007 draft is that they will lean heavily towards offensive prospects with their opening picks.

Draft Tendencies

Since 2003, the Canucks have used their four first-round selections to pick an American center, an American goaltender, a QMJHL defender and an Austrian winger playing in the WHL

They have had a total of 30 picks over that period of time.  This has included three goalies, eight defensemen and 19 forwards. 

The league by league breakdown is as follows: five players from the various CJAHL leagues, five from the WHL, five from the QMJHL, four players from the NCAA or American Junior “A” leagues destined for college, four from the Swedish leagues, two from the OHL and Russia respectively and one player from both the Slovakian and Swiss leagues.

The only region that the Canucks appear to have been consistently successful pulling talent from is Sweden.  Edler, Daniel Rahimi and Danish prospect Jannik Hansen (Malmo Jr) were all selected out of the Swedish ranks, with 2003 selection Nicklas Danielsson being the only bust from Sweden in recent years. 

Last year the Canucks showed a willingness to draft older players with the selections of Sergei Shirokov and Rahimi as well as Grabner and Simek – both of whom were late 2007s.  They appear to be increasingly willing to take a chance and make selections with boom-or-bust offensive potential. 

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result: David Perron, RW

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.