A few weeks ago, I completed an exercise using pGPS to look at the UFA prospects then Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis signed during his tenure at the time of their signings.
Seeing the have and have nots in terms of NHL potential proved an interesting endeavour. Unsurprisingly, Chris Tanev checked out as one of the better-rated prospects of the group when viewed through the lens of pGPS (Prospect Graduation Probabilities System) at the time of his signing.
In the comment section, and on Twitter, there were requests to do all of Mike Gillis’s draft classes. Well, ask and you shall receive. Today’s post will kick off a week-long series reviewing the 2008-13 draft classes with pGPS.
Before we dive in, let’s make it clear that this isn’t a comparison between the previous regime and the current one. This is simply an exercise of looking back to see how those draft classes would’ve looked using the tools we have available to us now.
The Canucks entered the 2013 NHL Entry Draft possessing all of their picks, with the exception of their second round pick, which was traded for Derek Roy. They moved their third round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Chris Higgins, but then required that pick back in the David Booth deal.
- The New Jersey Devils’ first-round pick went to the Vancouver Canucks as the result of a trade on June 30, 2013 that sent Cory Schneider to New Jersey in exchange for this pick.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ second-round pick went to the Dallas Stars as the result of a trade on April 2, 2013 that sent Derek Roy to Vancouver in exchange for Kevin Connauton and this pick
All trade details are from wikipedia here.
9th overall – C Bo Horvat
Bo Horvat was selected 9th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with the pick the Canucks acquired from New Jersey for goaltender Cory Schneider.
At the time, it seemed like a lacklustre return for a goalie who was trending upwards. But in hindsight, it was a fairly good return based on the goaltender trade market taking a dive, and the fact the Horvat has developed fairly well. That discussion is a completely different animal, and not what we’re here for.
Horvat wasn’t a huge offensive contributor for the London Knights during the regular season of his draft year, but had a sensational OHL playoff and Memorial Cup. That great showing shot him up the draft rankings to the point where he was in the conversation as a top 10 pick, so it wasn’t a shock when the Canucks selected him with the 9th overall selection.
Horvat returned to the OHL for his D+1 season, where he saw his PPG increase to 1.37 PPG.
Using pGPS, Horvat comes in with 27.0% of comparable players going onto becoming NHL regulars when he was taken. That isn’t a terrible percentage for 9th overall, as it’s in line with a few players in that same range throughout the years. With that being said, that percentage doesn’t account for his post season production, nor can it accurately rate his defensive acumen. He was downright dominant in his own zone in the OHL.
As expected, with a decent uptick in offensive production in his D+1, his pGPS increased significantly. Based on his production in the NHL, he has hovered around 85.0%, but it’s clear that Horvat will be an NHL player for many years to come. He has too many tools that translate to the NHL.
Horvat is a classic case where the numbers and eye test need to work together. His pGPS doesn’t particularly jump out, but watching Horvat during his draft season would’ve separated him from the pack.
The Canucks did pass on his linemate Max Domi, who was known more for his offence.
24th overall – LW Hunter Shinkaruk
With their own first round pick, the Canucks selected Medicine Hat Tiger winger Hunter Shinkaruk. The Calgary native was in the conversation as a Top 15 pick throughout the entire season, but saw his draft stock fall a bit. That fall is likely attributed to how his interviews went, as it has come out since then that Shinkaruk didn’t have the best interviews with teams.
At the time of the selection, Shinkaruk gave the Canucks system what they lacked, which was an offensively dynamic winger. Shinkaruk did need to round out his game, particularly in the defensive zone.
Early in the 2013-14 season, the winger suffered a torn labrum in his hip. He tried playing through the injury, with hopes of making Team Canada for the World Juniors. He was a late cut, and then opted for surgery. Playing through the injury killed his D+1 season, but given his age, he was able to jump to the AHL for the 2014-15 season.
He struggled at times, but slowly worked his way up.
Looking at his draft year specifically, Shinkaruk had 41.2% of his comparable players go onto becoming NHL regulars. This is obviously higher than Horvat’s percentage, and that is attributed to Shinkaruk having a higher PPG during his draft season (and slightly different size dimensions). His second year didn’t look good, but in fairness, he was playing through a major injury and then missed half the season.
Like many players who graduate to the AHL, he saw a big increase to his pGPS in his first year there. Last season he ended the year at 52.2% between the Utica Comets and Stockton Heat.
85th overall – C Cole Cassels
With the third round pick that they traded and acquired back, the Canucks went back to the OHL selecting centre Cole Cassels. Son of former Canucks Andrew Cassels, Cole was seen as a two-way centre who had some offensive upside despite only posting 43 points in his draft season. Cassels slowly developed that side of his game, posting 73 points in his D+1 season and 81 points in his D+2 season. During his D+2 season, he helped take the Oshawa Generals to the OHL championship and Memorial Cup championships.
However he suffered an abdominal injury, which required rehab throughout last summer. He didn’t opt to have surgery, but it set back his workout regiment and thus struggled to adjust to the AHL last season. Posting only 7 points in 67 games with the Utica Comets last year.
If his play at Young Stars is any indication, he seems to finally be healthy and looks to take a step forward with his second professional season this year.
Using pGPS on Cassels, 14.54% of comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars during his draft season. That number rose to 32.7% during his D+1 season, and then 27.1% during his D+2 season in the OHL. Due to his low production in the AHL last season, pGPS had 13.4% of his comparable players go onto NHL regulars.
Important to remember that he was coming off a major injury and was always a step behind. Hopefully he can get back on track this season.
115th overall – D Jordan Subban
With the 115th overall pick, the Canucks selected defenceman Jordan Subban from the Belleville Bulls. There had been rumours that the Montreal Canadiens were going to select Subban with the 116th overall selection, but the Canucks snagged him with the pick before.
Seen as a diminutive offensive defenceman, Subban was playing on an average Belleville team but had the skill set that could translate to the next level. After posting 51 points in his D+0 season, he posted 42 points in his D+1 and 52 points in his D+2, which included 25 goals.
He moved to the AHL for the 2015-16 season and finished the year amongst the top 5 of rookie AHL defenceman scoring. There are some concerns about his defensive game and decision making, but he has shown a knack for creating offence out of nothing.
When the Canucks selected Subban in the 4th round, 33.3% of his comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars. That is fantastic odds for a 4th round pick. Since his offence dipped and plateaued, Subban’s pGPS dropped to 5.26% during his D+1 season and done to 0.0% during his D+2 season. This isn’t surprising given his size, very few players of his size make it.
With a good offensive season last year in the AHL, his pGPS finished the year at 44.4%.
Subban was a worthwhile gamble, who trended a bit downwards, but looks like a good bet to make the NHL at this point.
145th overall – D Anton Cederholm
With their fifth round pick, the Canucks selected Swedish defenceman Anton Cederholm from Rogle BK. At the time of the selection, it was expected that Cederholm was going to head to the CHL, and that happened after the Portland Winterhawks selected him 60th overall in the 2013 CHL Import Draft.
Known as a hard-nosed defensive defenceman Cederholm was paired with Derrick Pouliot for the majority of the year and saw minimal offensive production. He was signed to an ELC by the Canucks current regime, and he turned pro for the 2015-16 season, where he spent the entire season in the ECHL.
At the time of his selection, using his SHL production as the metric, an impressive 15.8% of his comparable players went onto becoming NHL players. The main reason for this is that any teenager playing in the SHL rates well.
Unfortunately, Cederholm was never able to produce offensively, thus had always had a low ceiling. So although the pGPS looked only on Cederholm, the ‘old school’ eye could’ve seen the low chances of him making it.
Cederholm’s contract was loaned to Rogle this summer, and he returned to the SHL.
The Canucks missed out on Alan Quine with the selection of Anton Cederholm.
175th overall – D Mike Williamson
Selected out of the AJHL, Mike Williamson was taken by the Canucks with the 175th overall pick. Williamson never put up impressive numbers, but following the same tendency of other late round selections, he was already committed to Penn State and had just completed his D+2 season.
As mentioned in the past, we are unable to accurately rate players coming out of the AJHL, so we are unable to rate at Williamson.
Williamson appeared in 49 games for Penn State over three years, but ultimately retired this past January due to nagging injuries.
205th overall – D Miles Liberati
With the final draft pick of the Mike Gillis regime, the Canucks selected OHL defenceman Miles Liberati. Seen as a mobile two-way puck mover who could project as a depth player, they saw a player who was stuck behind the depth of the London Knights and with a bigger role could develop into something.
They weren’t wrong, as Liberati was moved half way through his D+1 season to the North Bay Battalion and became a main stay in their top 4. He was a mainstay for one of the top possession teams that season. Liberati had a very good season in his D+2 season, putting career highs in goals (11), assists (27) and points (38) – all while manning the first pairing.
The new Canucks regime didn’t feel he was worth an ELC, and Liberati went through the 2015 draft being unselected.
If we look specifically at the draft season of Liberati, a very low 1.9% of his comparable players went onto becoming NHL players. However the thought process behind the selection was sound, as it did come to fruition to some degree. Once Liberati was allowed to play more, the better he got. Prior to the conclusion of last season, Liberati was one of the players that I suggested as a UFA target for any team as his pGPS at the time was a very respectable 10.9%. Before it even got to that point, former Canucks writer Josh Weissbock suggested the Canucks should’ve signed him to an ELC before they relinquished his rights.
Miles Liberati signed a contract with the Reading Royals of the ECHL for the 2016-17 season.
It isn’t fair to fully rate the 2013 draft class as they are still going through their development. Horvat is a sure fire NHL player, who will be a part of the Canucks for the foreseeable future. Shinkaruk, Subban and Cassels are still going through the necessary development, but still appear be trending towards becoming NHL players in some capacity. Although like all prospects, there is a chance they don’t.
Cederholm was signed to a contract, but has been loaned to the SHL. Miles Liberati went unsigned, and Mike Williamson has quit hockey.
We can’t accurately state this draft as a success or not, as it has only been three years. But if one of Shinkaruk, Cassels, or Subban become NHL regulars – then it can be deemed as such. If multiple of those players do, then it’s a very good draft class. Ideally, it’s the players the Canucks still currently possess tipping that scale, rather than the already departed or done so after being traded.
Ideally, they didn’t have to trade Cory Schneider to get Horvat.