Sometimes it is a fun exercise to go down history lane and
review the way things were. It was the
summer of 2009, and the Vancouver Canucks had finished first in the Northwest
Division with 100 points and 45 wins. In
the post-season, the Canucks earned their first series sweep against the St.
Louis Blues only to be eliminated in 6 games against the Chicago Blackhawks kicking off a heated rivalry between the two teams.
That summer the Canucks were picking 22nd overall
in the NHL Entry Draft and it was one of the rare drafts where Mike Gillis et.
al had a selection in every round. The
Canucks management was yet to start their selection of big overagers, but they
were still many questionable selections.
Now that it is five years later let us review how the
Vancouver selections have developed since then.
Jordan Schroeder, 22nd overall
The Vancouver Canucks selected Jordan Schroeder in the first
round of 2009. Schroeder was coming out
of his freshman year at the University of Minnesota where he scored a very impressive 45 points
(13 goals, 32 assists) in 32 games. He was considered the definition of a small
but skilled forward; but he could not repeat that performance where his sophomore
year limited him to 28 points in 37 games.
He signed with the Canucks and left the NCAA and joined the Canucks
affiliates in the AHL.
He saw some improvement but quickly plateaued and never
seemed to develop from there. He had
many opportunities over the years, being ranked the 5th
best prospect by Canucks Army in 2012 but never seemed to shine. Thomas Drance argued he should have been qualified
this summer but ultimately the Canucks management decided to let him
He was signed to his hometown team the Minnesota Wild but
was sent down to their AHL team the Iowa Wild.
Through the first 10 games of the AHL season he has been in the top 10
of AHL scoring putting up 11 points in 10 games. As one of two 2009 Canucks draftees to play in the NHL, he has
played 56 games scoring 6 goals and 9 assists.
Anton Rodin, 53rd overall
Anton Rodin was once considered one of the most highly
skilled prospects in the Canucks pool.
In his draft year he put up 55 points in 37 games with Brynas J20 in the
SuperElit and 13 points in 8 games with Sweden’s U19 team. In the following year Rodin graduated to the
SHL playing with Brynas as a 19 year old scoring 5 points in 36 games.
He transitioned to the American Hockey League in 2011-2012
and over two seasons he scored 41 points in 111 games, did not get a call up to
the NHL, and was never able to adapt to the North American game. Last summer he was not
qualified by the Canucks and returned to the SHL to play with Brynas. Since then he has 46 points in 65 games over
two seasons. His right are still owned
by Vancouver should he ever return to the NHL.
(Edit: Anton Rodin was tendered a qualifying offer by the Canucks, but signed in Sweden instead. He is still technically Canucks property, but chances of him returning to North America are very remote)
Kevin Connauton, 83rd overall
Kevin Connauton was once considered the Canucks best
defencemen prospect, and Canucks Army’s 6th
best prospect, until the emergence of Frank Corrado allowed the Canucks to
feel comfortable trading Connauton as part of the ill-fated Derek
Drafted out of Western Michigan University where he put up
18 points in 40 games, he left after one year to join the WHL’s Vancouver Giants
where he amassed a huge 72 points in 69 games.
He signed his entry-level contract that summer and joined the Canucks in
Chicago and Manitoba for the next three seasons performing reasonably well but
never getting an opportunity to be called up to the NHL.
It was not until the trade to the Dallas organization that
gave Kevin the opportunity to play in the NHL, making him the second prospect in this draft class to graduate to the NHL.
He has played 43 games this season and last putting up a total of 9
points but his ceiling looks to have limited him to be a bottom pairing NHL
defencemen. In the last two seasons he
has put up positive Corsi Rel numbers (over a limited number of games) but with
high OZone Start-%.
Jeremy Price, 113rd overall
Defencemen Jeremy Price was a fairly reasonable pick for the
Canucks in 2009 as he was coming out of the Central Junior Hockey League (in
Eastern Ontario) where he put up 41 points in 55 games. He then went on to play four years at Colgate
University amassing 76 points in 149 points but never seemed to get better year
Price was once ranked 18th in the Canucks system by
Canucks Army and he was given a cup of coffee in the AHL with Chicago for 5
games in 2013, but ultimately the Canucks did not sign him and he was eligible
to be a free-agent. Last season Price
played with the Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL scoring 14 points in 38 games
but he is not listed as playing this season.
Peter Andersson, 143rd overall
At the time of his selection Andersson was a questionable
choice but so far he has proven to be better than initial thoughts. In his draft year he scored 8 points in the
SuperElit and then graduated to the SHL with Frolunda scoring 5 points in 21
games. That performance convinced Vancouver
to sign him to an Entry-level contract.
For the last three seasons Andersson has been in the AHL
with no call-ups to the NHL. In three
seasons he has scored 21 points in 112 games.
numbers suggest he carries a strong at Rel Gf% while facing weaker competition
and getting help from his teammates.
This summer is the expiry of his ELC and the Canucks and
Andersson are going to have to decide if they want to re-sign him, or if Andersson
will make like Rodin and go back to Sweden.
It’s possible that the former 19th
best prospect could be a depth defencemen on a few teams but
that’s not likely with the Canucks current defence depth. It’s just as likely to see him as trade bait
at the trade deadline.
Joe Cannata, 173rd overall
Joe Cannata once brought high hopes to Canucks fans for the
future in net. Cannata played in the
NCAA putting up good numbers and scouts thought he had an NHL starter
as his ceiling. Since leaving
college he has yet to be able to excel in the pro game, leaving many fans disappointed
with Cannata in net.
Cannata was drafted after his first year from Merrimack
College where he played 23 games and finishing with a .918 sv%. His year to year save percentage went up and
down but he finished his career with over 3,150 shots against good for an NCAA
sv% of .915, above league average. His
small sample performance in the AHL in 2012-2013 was quite positive but his
backup role in Utica last year was not overwhelming. This year, the 24 year old goalie is starting
in the ECHL and has a .935 through his first five games.
Cannata is looking to be re-qualified at the end of the year
as he will be an RFA. He’s currently
fallen farther and farther down the depth charts and there’s small chance he
will be promoted to the NHL any time soon.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the former 16th
best prospect out of the system soon.
Steven Anthony, 187th overall
Anthony was drafted with the final selection for the Canucks in 2009 out of
the Saint John’s Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.
That year he scored 48 points in 67 games a number he could not repeat
as the next two years saw him score 28 and 23 points in 61 games
After finishing his QMJHL career, Anthony signed his ELC with the
Canucks and was sent to the ECHL due to the Chicago Wolves preferring to ice a veteran-laden lineup rather than play Canucks
prospects. That year he suffered a
massive concussion due to an illegal hit from Devin DiDiomete, which
caused Anthony miss most of the following season. 2013-2014 was his last chance in the system;
instead he was only able to score 14 points in 33 games in the Central Hockey
League. Anthony was not qualified and
that ended that chapter on his time in the Canucks system.
The 2009 NHL Entry Draft was the last year before Mike
Gillis and his team started experimenting with their off the board
choices. Many of Vancouver’s 2009 selections were
quite reasonable picks at the time and left the fans with much optimism for their
future, but much like many other future selections,
these just did not work out for one reason or another. From the 2009
draft class only two players remain the system: Peter Andersson and Joe
Cannata. But it remains to be seen just how much longer they’ll last.