The above chart is inspired by a tweet from JapersRink. So what the heck is going on here?
First off, between 2006 and 2009, the Manitoba Moose had a pretty good record, better than the Canucks in 3 of 4 years and only slightly worse in that 2006-2007 campaign.
Notable (young) Moose back then included:
- Alexander Edler
- Mike Brown
- Nathan McIver
- Jannik Hansen
- Mason Raymond
- Michael Grabner
- Alex Bolduc
- Rick Rypien
- Cory Schneider
Many of those players were on the Canucks during their three dominant NHL years of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Perhaps not key players, but they were good supporting pieces. Schneider only took over as starter in 2008-09.
At Oilers Nation, Jonathan Willis has found a pretty strong correlation between an AHL team’s success and an NHL team’s success three years down the line. The Canucks and their affiliates have seemed to support that trend: While the NHL Canucks were successful in the early 2010s, their affiliate was not. Part of that has to be because outside circumstances meant the Canucks had to break the link to their longtime AHL affiliate Manitoba, but a bigger part of it is that the Canucks have drafted poorly over the last few (many) years.
Since the start of the lockout-shortened season, the Canucks have 497 man-games (out of a possible 2340) played by players below the age of 25. Only 96 of those have been played by Canucks draft picks: Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen, Frank Corrado, and Yann Sauve.
Sure, the Moose between 2006 and 2009 didn’t produce notable NHL stars, but they plugged a few holes on defence and the third line, even if their key players and scorers were AHL veterans like Lee Goren and Jason Jaffray.
So it remains concerning that not only did the Canucks have a poor season this year, but so did the Utica Comets. That being said, a prospect system is easy to build up, taking one or two drafts, and the Canucks had a pretty good one in 2013. They’ll graduate Hunter Shinkaruk out of it to the pro system next year, and he’ll join Dane Fox and Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce, taken in 2012, could join Ben Hutton in marking a better-than-expected draft class in 2012, as Hutton led Hockey East in defensive scoring as a sophomore, which seems notable.
I continue my comparison between the 2014 Vancouver Canucks, a team whose unlucky powerplay and below-average PDO contributed to an otherwise good roster missing the playoffs, to the 2012 Montreal Canadiens. The 2012 Hamilton Bulldogs were also a pretty lousy team, finishing 34-35-7 and missing the playoffs. On that team, only Louis Leblanc and Gabriel Dumont played any games for the 2014 Montreal Canadiens, a team that looks poised to sweep a good Lightning team out of Round 1 of the playoffs and doing so with four players 24 or younger: Lars Eller, PK Subban, Brendan Gallagher, and Michael Bournival.
Connection? Sure… why not? After all, all the Canucks have to do is trade their young, exciting goaltender for a 20-year-old leading scorer of an AHL team (whoops), develop a 6-foot-200-pound-plus defenceman into an NHL regular before his 21st birthday (nope), hit on a young scoring forward with a late round draft pick (lol) and give more minutes than deserved to a player based on his birth certificate (easy).
NOTE: I really don’t know anything about the AHL other than what the data tells me. It is terrifically boring, low-scoring hockey.