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Looking at Prior Canucks’ Rosters in Hypothetical Expansion Drafts

The expansion draft almost came at a good time for the current era of Canucks hockey. The team is in rebuild mode, which means most of the available players are undesirable, and they can protect all their assets without worry. This couldn’t have been said for some other teams in Canucks history, so I decided to take a look at how an expansion draft would have affected three other Canucks teams since the magical 1994 cup run.

All these hypothetical drafts are using this year’s rules. Teams could protect:

1. Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

OR

2. Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

All players with No Movement Clauses must be protected, and any players with less than two years experience are exempt.

1994 Expansion Draft

The Canucks coming off their magical run would be faced with having to lose a piece. Here’s who they would protect.

Forwards

Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Martin Gelinas, Greg Adams, Gino Odjick

Defencemen

Jyrki Lumme, Dave Babych, Jiri Slegr

Goaltender

Kirk McLean

Most enticing unprotected players

Murray Craven, Bret Hedican, Sergio Momesso

After much deliberation, I think the Canucks find a way to sway the expansion team way from the young Bret Hedican, whom may prove more valuable in the future, and get the team to select Murray Craven. Though he had a solid campaign in 93-94, he was getting to the end of his career.

Team selects:

Murray Craven

2003 Expansion Draft

The Canucks made it to the second round in 2003 and very nearly knocked off the Wild to make the conference finals (if not for a dismal effort in the second half of a game seven). The team was on the upswing thanks to the West Coast Express and an exciting team that finally had Canucks fans in the sights for Lord Stanley.

Forwards

Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison, Matt Cooke, Trevor Linden, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin

Defencemen

Ed Jovanovski, Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo

Goaltender

Dan Cloutier

Most enticing unprotected players

Brent Sopel, Alex Auld, Trent Klatt, Bryan Allen

The Canucks forwards fell pretty much into place. With Bertuzzi/Naslund/Morrison as their solidified top line, Matt Cooke as the pesky young gun and the Sedin Twins finally starting to grow into the players we thought they could be, there’s nobody else that could have been considered. The only very variable slot was the 3rd defenceman slot, which came down to Sopel or Salo. Sopel had more offensive upside, and fewer injuries, but Salo was a steady force on the backend when healthy. Sopel, however, was a steady force that an expansion team could use, and they grab him.

Team selects:

Brent Sopel

2011 Expansion Draft

The Canucks, coming off their cup run and seemingly was geared up for the 2011-12 season (no spoilers) would have suffered the expansion draft fallen in that off-season. They would have stood to lose either a top four defenceman or a top nine forward, and it would have put to rest the Schneider/Luongo saga for good. (Maybe)

All things considered, the Canucks wouldn’t have stood pat losing Schneider for nothing to an expansion team, and would have used their prospects/picks to ensure he’s not snagged. He won’t be included in the unprotected players.

Forwards

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Christopher Higgins

Defencemen

Alexander Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa

Goaltender

Roberto Luongo

Protected via trade

Cory Schneider

Most enticing unprotected players

Keith Ballard, Mikael Samuelsson, Raffi Torres, Maxim Lapierre

The Canucks would have been forced with one tough decision. Would they protect Mikael Samuelsson, who had suffered an injury that doctors feared would derail most of the rest of his career? Or Chris Higgins, who despite being acquired as bottom six depth prior to the deadline, blossomed in his role in the postseason. I think they’d protect Higgins, leaving Samuelsson up for grabs. On the backend, Edler, Hamhuis and Bieksa were all mainstays and no brainers. This leaves Keith Ballard as the best option on the backend, and the best player overall.

Team selects:

Keith Ballard