Canucks 2013 NHL Draft Preview: Mike Gillis’s Draft Record

Frank Corrado is one of Mike Gillis' best late-round picks.
Frank Corrado is one of the best late-round picks of the Mike Gillis era.
Image via wikimedia commons.

The draft is tomorrow! Put down your long-weekend Molson, step inside from the beach and turn on your television for a few hours. Hockey’s version of Prospect Porn has it’s annual hurrah, and the Vancouver Canucks should be in the thick of things with a new coach, a handful of trade, buy-out and free agent rumors, and six picks, including the 24th overall selection.

But before we look forward, it helps to look backward. So let’s hop in the DeLorean and look at General Manager Mike Gillis’ five drafts and where the players he selected are now.

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We here at Canucks Army have been previewing the draft all week, so if you’re so inclined, it’s worth having a look back at some of the articles to catch up.

Jeff Angus looks at WHL prospects to target.
Cam Charron discusses potential draft strategy.
Yours truly looks at size and the NHL Draft, with a specific look at Mike Gillis’ tendencies.
And Thomas Drance tackles Mike Gillis’ “fishing holes” in the draft.

Okay, welcome back. So you know about strategy, size, fishing holes and the like. So you may have some idea what to expect when the Canucks are on the clock tomorrow.

But does it matter? If Gillis has a bad track record of drafting, there may not be much to get excited about. If he’s been really good, then picking late isn’t that big a concern. It probably falls somewhere in the middle.

It’s worth noting before we dive in, too, that draft picks take variable amounts of time to reach the NHL and even more variable amounts of time to find success in the NHL. With just a five-draft window, it’s possible some of Gillis’ more recent picks could still make an impact.

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2008 Draft
Gillis’ first draft saw him dive into the draft not long after being given the reigns at the end of April.

Cody Hodgson, C, 10th overall – That’s a decent first pick, though Gillis later gave him up, perhaps at less than market value, in order to Unleash the Zacken. Hodgson has 77 points in 139 career games, including 34 in 48 this year for the Buffalo Sabres. At just 23 still, he’s a solid bet to remain a top-six forward for some time.

Yann Sauve, D, 41st – Yeah this second pick didn’t work out quite as well. He’s played just five underwhelming NHL games and split this past season between the AHL and ECHL. He’s still just 23 but he certainly doesn’t look like he’s on the path to being more than a depth D-man.

Prab Rai, C, 131st – Has played just 31 ECHL games over the past three seasons. The Surrey native is still a great skater but his inability to stay on the ice makes him impossible to evaluate.

Mats Froshaug, C, 161st – He’s been averaging over a point a game in Norway’s top league for some time, but that league makes him more or less unprojectable.

Morgan Clark, G, 191st – He’s spent the past two years hardly playing for St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, so yeah, not looking good.

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2009 Draft
Gillis had his full allotment of picks this year, one of whom has already had some sort of impact on the big club.

Jordan Schroeder, C, 22nd overall – After a couple years of seasoning in the AHL, Schroeder made the jump to the NHL last year, scoring 9 points in 31 games. He’s still just 22, and the undersized center has shown to be a quality two-way player already.

Anton Rodin, F, 53rd – Has spent two years in the AHL now providing organizational depth on the wing. He won’t be returning to the Vancouver system next season.

Kevin Connauton, D, 83rd – Connauton played decent minutes in the AHL this year before being packaged with a second round pick for the Derek Roy rental. Roy is solid, but it doesn’t say much about Connauton that it took a second, as well, to pry him free for a month.

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Jeremy Price, D, 113th – Price just graduated from Colgate this year, averaging a point every two games for his career in the excellent ECAC. He made a five-game cameo in the AHL, and will start the year there if he’s signed to an entry-level contract before August 15th.

Peter Andersson, D, 143rd – Andersson made the jump from Sweden to the AHL last year, putting up eight points in 42 games. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game but, like everyone in this list it seems, has time to develop in the AHL still at just 22.

Joe Cannata, G, 173rd – Cannata has since graduated from Merrimack College (Great Big Sea, what up) and bounced between the AHL and ECHL, where he’s been ho-hum in a part-time role. This year will be an important one for his development.

Steven Anthony, F, 187th – The Canucks picked him up on draft day for Shaun Heshka, a decent two-way defenseman in the AHL who just jumped back to Sweden. Anthony, meanwhile, has been just a depth forward at the ECHL, which probably doesn’t bode well for his long-term potential.

2010 Draft
The Canucks didn’t have a pick earlier than the fourth round this year. Yawn.

Patrick McNally, D, 115th overall – Was suspended by Harvard this year due to an academic scandal. Since he didn’t move to the ECHL or AHL, I’ll assume he’s planning on heading back to the Ivy League next season.

Adam Polasek, D, 145th – Polasek split time this year between the AHL and ECHL, racking up some penalty minutes but not much else. He’s still twenty-one and if he can add a step he might have some fringe NHL potential, but this will be a critical season for him.

Alex Friesen, C, 172nd – Fizzled offensively in his AHL debut this season after averaging more than a point a game in the OHL. He has potential as a bottom-line forward since he wins faceoffs and plays way bigger than his (generously listed) 5’ 10” frame, but he probably needs at least another full year of seasoning.

Jonathan Illahti, G, 175th – He’s been out of the system for a while and struggled in the Finnish league this past season.

Sawyer Hannay, D, 205th – The 6’ 4” righty would’ve be nice to have in the organization for those two facts (big, right handed shot) but he scored just 21 points in his QMJHL career. He’s already out of the system.

2011 Draft
This was the busiest the Canucks have been on draft day, with eight picks overall despite no second rounder, including a late selection who has already made the club.

Nicklas Jensen, F, 29th overall – Jensen played a pair of games with the Canucks this year while also spending time in the SEL and AHL. He’s got a lot of upside to tap into if he can figure out how to use his frame but as his weak AHL production this past season suggests, he may not be ready to contribute yet.

David Honzik, G, 71st – Honzik has been awful in the Q for three years now. He’s already out of the system.

Alexandre Grenier, RW, 90th – Grenier spent some of this past season in Austria and the rest of it in the ECHL. He’s got a pretty enticing skillset, but it’s worrying that he couldn’t stick in the AHL this past year.

Joseph Labate, C, 101st – Labate still has time left at Wisconsin, where he’s scored 53 points in 78 games through two years. He didn’t have quite the uptick in offense some were expecting but he’s got size and he’s at a successful program with a coach who produces NHL talent.

Ludwig Blomstrand, LW, 120th – Split time between Sweden and the AHL this year. He has the size and speed to be a good roleplayer eventually.

Frank Corrado, D, 150th – Corrado-types are a reason teams still try despite the mediocrity of some of these late-round names. The fifth-rounder showed skills as a strong two-way defenseman in the OHL this year, earning a three-game stint with the Canucks that turned into four playoff appearances. He’s probably ready to be a top-six guy already but might be AHL-bound if the Canucks want to get him major minutes for development.

Pathrik Westerholm, RW, 180th – Also went unsigned after another “meh” season in Sweden.

Henrik Tommernes, D, 210th – Scouting reports from Sweden seem pretty high on his NHL potential, especially if he can add a physical element to his game.

2012 Draft
Obviously the least telling draft at this point given the recency, especially since the Canucks had just five picks, but it’s worth a look.

Brendan Gaunce, C, 26th overall – Gaunce had his second straight OHL season averaging a point a game, tallying a career-high 33 goals. He’s a big dude and a top prospect who faced the toughest minutes among any OHL first liner a year ago.

Alexandre Mallet, LW, 57th – Spent most of his year being a mid-level player in the ECHL, and scouting reports indicate he looked as mediocre as his stats would indicate. There’s still plenty of time, of course.

Ben Hutton, D, 147th – Hutton opted the NCAA route and but up 15 points in 34 games as a freshman at Maine. Definitely worth keeping an eye on how he develops.

Wesley Myron, LW, 177th – Left Boston University after 21 games and instead jumped to the ECHL. It’s always tough to evaluate guys in split-seasons, but the lack of pedigree and the trouble getting minutes at Boston are a bit concerning.

Matthew Beattie, LW, 207th – Went scoreless in 15 games at Yale but, y’kno, Yale, so he’s getting some great experience while he develops.

It’s obviously a mixed bag here, which is to be expected given the crap-shoot nature of the draft and how often the Canucks picked late. 2011 stands out as a pretty solid draft but there’s no other year where’d you’d look and think Gillis is a genius. In his defense, it’s really hard to find elite talent outside of the top-10, especially talent that gets to the NHL quickly.


Some scouting information obtained from previous news blasts, CA pieces, memory and/or Elite Prospects.

  • JCDavies

    God this piece is awful; does not provide much that we didn’t know already, obviously not proofread and the use of informal language is extremely annoying.

      • My point is that you didn’t provide any information/insight. This article is comparable to just posting stats of every canucks this season and writing a mini summary like: “Kesler has been battling injuries”, “Hansen stepped up in the beginning of the season.” These are things we already know! If you included something like how you think MG can improve upon his drafting choices or why you think our drafts has been so disappointing then it would’ve been a worthwhile read. Your style of writing is also amateur and worsened the experience for any reader.

        • How is my writing style amateur? Because I used some colloquial language in a light summary piece?

          This article wasn’t meant to be awe-inspiring…it took info from a tonne of different places and put it in one place for the ease of readers. If you don’t find value in it, fine, but there’s really no cause for attack because you feel a summary ‘where are his picks now’ piece wasn’t necessary. Jesus.

          • JCDavies

            As I said, the informal language used is distracting and doesn’t contribute to the article. Unless you can convince me otherwise, I do think this style of writing is amateur.

            There are many typos/grammar errors and awkward sentence structures in this piece, some examples include:
            “It’s worth nothing before we dive in, too, that draft picks take variable amounts of time to reach the NHL and even more variable amounts of time to find success in the NHL.”

            “This was the busiest the Canucks have been on draft day, with eight picks overall despite no second rounder, including one late one who has already made the club.”

            “…but as his weak AHL production this past season suggests he might not be ready to contribute yet. “

          • Yup, no denying those grammatical errors. Don’t think they’re worth being a dick over, personally, but fine, fixed. Easy enough.

            As far as the informal language goes, I think it’s probably a personal preference and me still figuring out the CA audience and what works best. I write for nearly a dozen different sites and each readership seems to prefer a certain way of having articles presented to them (e.g. math-heavy pieces at Beyond the Box Score are aided by colloquial language because they can otherwise be too wordy). Anyway, my point was mostly that your reaction was probably overdone considering.

  • I’m not sure what research was done here but it doesn’t seem like much. Checking out articles on each is easy enough as is citing hockey futures.

    Here’s another take on someone like Grenier

    Now, there are some differences in analysis here. I prefer the Hockey Futures version.

    I think the Canucksarmy is a great site but then you get poor articles like this. The internet allows anyone to get their word out. Too often the material is poorly written and rarely researched. If you’re going to put it out there spend at least 5 mins. to do a decent job. It took me less than a minute to find both links I noted.

  • Hi Blake

    It’s more frustration than vitrol. You provide information on several prospects that is contradictory, or somewhat misleading, to the information provided in the HF site.

    I am not going to go through each prospect and compare the HF notes and yours. That’s why I provided the links – so people can make up their own mind.

    Yes, I am working under the premise where I believe the HF info is more accurate than the info in this article. It frustrates me that some people may read this article and believe it to be accurate; it paints a more gloomy picture. You also don’t cite any sources or where you obtained your date (again, assuming you didn’t go out and scout the players).

    I recently discovered this site. It puts up news quicker than most sites and I do like it. I understand this is a blog type site but I don’t think the quality needs to suffer.

    • The quality shouldn’t suffer, I’m sorry if you didn’t like the article. No, I didn’t scout the players myself – the notes on players came from an amalgamation of things (news blasts on players, my memory, occasionally non-CA sites where necessary (I didn’t link to each particular one because it would just be an inane amount of links).

      Don’t let this piece, which again, was meant to be a summary piece, taint your opinion of CA. I’m new here and finding my niche and the best way to provide value.

    • Also, be careful taking HF as any sort of gospel (or any one site for that matter). I’m not clear on their “rep” within the industry, but they’re player profiles aren’t updated to reflect the 2012-13 season in a lot of cases, which may explain some of the “conflicting” info.

    • Grade 10 English class? Jesus, what the hell did I get myself into here? Pretty confident I responded to his criticisms just fine…it’s a summary article, with three typos, and a style of writing that he isn’t partial too. Those kind of criticisms are fair, sure, but are they REALLY worth even commenting about? Not really. Seriously, I’m defensive because it’s a goddam summary piece putting a bunch of different info in one spot and people are ripping me because it’s not a Jonathan Abrams. FFS guys.

  • @Blake Murphy

    If you do agree that his criticisms are valid, what are you getting defensive about? Sure, he probably could’ve worded his suggestions nicer and added in a compliment at the end but just because he didn’t, you’re calling him a dick even though you agree that there are holes in this article. I agree with Cinema and I do think that there are more than just the three examples he picked out. Even the ones he picked out you didn’t fix completely.

    The use of informal language is okay if used probably. Adding “so yeah”, is definitely not a proper use. With the examples Cinema included, here is what I think could be improved on, after your edit.

    “This was the busiest the Canucks have been on draft day, with eight picks overall despite no second rounder, including one late one who has already made the club.”

    If I recall lessons from highschool english correctly, I’m almost certain that’s a wrong use of the word “despite” and that the last part is a dangling modifier in that it is modifying “second rounder” instead of “eight picks”.

    “It’s worth nothing before we dive in, too, that draft picks take variable amounts of time to reach the NHL and even more variable amounts of time to find success in the NHL.”

    The word choice here makes the sentence awkward to read. Instead of
    “variable amounts of time” and “even more variable amounts of time” you should’ve written something like “for each of these prospects, the amount of time varies” and “that time further varies for them to find…”

    “Gillis had his full allotment of picks this year, one of whom has already had some sort of impact on the big club.”

    I assume “full allotment of picks” mean the picks itself and not the prospect selected. An improvement would be: “one of which was used to select a prospect who has already…”

    As for criticism about the accuracy of these scouting reports, I’m not sure on but for one prospect that I am somewhat familiar with, Jordan Schroeder, you didn’t mention anything valuable. You literally just put his stats on here and told us he was undersized and almost ready for the NHL. This is something other writers on this blog have written paragraphs on. If you have actually read some scouting reports I’m sure you would find that his attitude is a major flaw and one of the reason he dropped so low on the draft that year. Another prospect who has an interesting attribute that I somewhat know about is Morgan Clark. He was rumoured to be picked because his father Ian Clark is the goaltending coach. This is something that is interesting and should’ve been included if you even bothered to read him up on HF.

    The lack of detail in this post on each prospect makes me think that you merely looked up each player’s stats and drew a conclusion from there. You may not agree with or like what I said, but overall this article just screams lazy.