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: 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.
Photo: Defenseman Chris Tanev has been one of the best blueliners at both ends of the rink for the Chicago Wolves thus far in 2012-13. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Considering that the Chicago Wolves have played the fewest games in their conference to this point in the 2012-13 season, they are enjoying a modicum of success. Though currently sitting in 10th spot, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks is still within striking distance of a top five seeding.
Photo: Chicago Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack leads a shallow group of netminder in the Vancouver Canucks' prospect pipeline. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Had the NHL lockout not come to pass, it certainly would have been an interesting training camp in Penticton this season for the Vancouver Canucks. They have graduated a number of players over the past five years, leaving only a couple of select, higher-tier prospects to mature and come of age. With Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler still on the shelf after surgeries, it was shaping up to be an impromptu game of musical chairs to fill the holes left by Kesler’s and Edler’s convalescence.
Photo: Zack Kassian celebrates his first goal as a member of the Vancouver Canucks following a midseason trade from the Buffalo Sabres. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
The Vancouver Canucks' prospect pool may not be considered deep, but the organization has a number of players that project well within the team's puck-possession system. The current roster, laden with veterans drafted by the club, has been carefully chosen out of necessity. The team's regular season success in recent years has forced the organization to pick near the end of each draft round but the system has been improved with shrewd scouting and astute free-agent signings.