WDYTT Summer Debates: The best first round pick in Vancouver Canucks history

Photo credit:© Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet to always be ranked in the first round…of potential layoffs.
Speaking of stuff we hope doesn’t happen, the Vancouver Canucks have yet to trade away their first round selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft (for once), and it seems very likely that they’re actually going to use it this year.
Currently, they’re slotted in at 11OA, and with a draft this deep, that’s going to leave them with a pretty darn good prospect no matter who they pick.
But will that player be the greatest first round draft pick in franchise history? That’ll be a tough hill to climb, because there’s a lot of other contenders in the field, and they’ve all got a head-start.
This week in Summer Debates, we’re specifically avoiding the question of “who is the greatest draft pick in Canucks history?” because the answer is, and probably always will be, Pavel Bure at #113 overall in 1989. There were unique circumstances around that selection, but that doesn’t change the sheer value in getting what might be the best player in franchise history in the sixth round.
Instead, we’re zeroing in on just the first round draft picks, mostly to eliminate Bure from contention, but also to narrow the focus and thus intensify the debate.
Will it be Dale Tallon? Quinn Hughes? Trevor Linden? Elias Pettersson? Cam Neely? Henrik and/or Daniel Sedin? Brad Ference? Olli Juolevi? Jim Sandlak?
The possibilities are numerous, but it’s your job to narrow it down to just one, and to make your case.
This week, we ask you to debate:

Who is the greatest first round draft selection in Vancouver Canucks history?

Let it be known in the comment section!
Last week, we asked:

Which Cup Finalist Canucks squad would win in a head-to-head tournament: 1982, 1994, or 2011?

You debated below!
The 2011 team. And I don’t think it would be close. It was the best-constructed team in franchise history with strength at every position, and over time NHL players have gotten more skilled. The only possible factor that might work in the 1994 team’s favor is goaltending, as Kirk McLean played the best of his career that spring, while Luongo came up small in the 2011 playoffs. But I still think 2011 would prevail.
defenceman factory:
Over time, NHL players have gotten better. Bigger, faster, better conditioned, and better coached from a young age. The progress over 29 and 17 year spans to 2011 is too great for the ‘82 or ‘94 teams.
The 2011 team wins and it’s not particularly close. The ‘82 and ‘94 teams were great in their eras and deserve the accolades they receive.
bruce donice:
Canucks have been to the finals three times, all teams were exciting. But the last two were my favourite, as they went to the full seven games and the games were all battles.
Also feeling bitter, as the last two visits to the finals the saw the officials, including player safety, were extremely biased against the Canucks.
The ‘94 team would win because IMO no twin-led team would ever win a Cup or a important game like this one.
More heart and better leadership on the ‘94 roster.
I’ve actually thought about this before, and without a doubt the 1994 team wins.
The 2011 team arguably has more pure skill and the ‘82 team was tough as nails, but the ‘94 team has a unique combination of both.
Bure would skate laps around the ‘82 team and the forwards would grind them into the ground.
Head-to-head, the 1994 team would crush the 2011 team in a six-game series. In a lot of ways the ‘94 team plays similar to the 2011 Bruins and would dominate in the trenches and squeak it out on the scoreboard.
Adam Reed:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
The best Canucks Finals playoff team is definitely the 1994 team. They had size to go along with their skill — a definite requirement to hoist the Cup and something that this current roster is at least three d-men and three forwards away from if they ever want to make any noise in the playoffs.
The 1982 team was fun to watch, but were lacking in skill, and the 2011 team were lacking in toughness.
Although not included in this debate, a close and almost an equal second to 1994 for the best Canucks roster ever was the 2003-04 roster with the West Coast Express. The team included the young Sedins and Trevor Linden and probably their biggest size-with-talent d-core including Ohlund, Jovanovski, Sopel, Salo, and Malik. They took Calgary to seven games without Todd Bertuzzi, their second-best player. Had it not been for the suspension, they would have easily hoisted the Cup over Tampa Bay in 2004.
The ‘94 squad was a prime example of “just make the playoffs and anything could happen.” They won a few good mid-season trades. The also had guys that were proud to be Canucks. A really good mix of big strong guys, guys with grit, and high-end skill. Not to mention peaking come playoff-time, just like Florida this year.
The 2011 team had more skilled players. More team toughness than individuals. Although they usually hurt other teams by scoring on the powerplay, not with physical play.
More heart in ‘94. More team skill 2011. 2011 better over 82 games. ‘94 better in the playoffs.
2011 team, and it’s not even close.
I’m never a big fan of these discussions, because over the years not only does the game change, but so does the player equipment, the workout equipment, having a video scouting team to study teams/players and their tendencies and easily show it to the players on a tablet, the massive steps taken outside of hockey itself with regards to physical and mental health, supplements, workout regimes and the list goes on.
Looking at both rosters and the improvement in skating, strength, equipment, and goaltending over time, I think the 2011 wins. However, I think the question was which Cup finalist squad wins. The 2011 team was a shell of itself. Kesler and Malhotra were playing injured and players like Samuelsson were injured. Of course, that team got worse with Hamhuis and Raymond injured and Rome suspended. In 1994, Linden was injured for Game 7, but can’t recall the same situation.
Tim Noble:
All were great in their own way. The ‘82 team had loads of character and yielded a lot of guys that had success in management. The ‘94 team was probably the most fun to watch, and the 11 team was the most skilled. But here’s a thought: the ‘82 team was swept in the finals and the city gave them a parade, while the other two teams got to Game 7 and were gifted a riot.
As an old geezer I’d be expected to remember the good old days fondly and go for the earlier teams, but facts get in the way of those fond recollections.
The 1982 team during the regular season was the 4th best in the Western Conference (which at the time went by the name of Clarence Campbell Conference.) I remember when the playoffs started thinking they were a longshot, but then watching the results of the first round and predicting after the first round that the Canucks would make it to the final, where they’d stand no chance whatsoever against the best from the East.
The 1994 team was the 7th best in the Western Conference during the regular season.
The 2011 team was the only one of the three that would have been a favourite to make the final when the playoffs began. It was the best of the three Canucks Stanley Cup finalists and it wasn’t close.

Check out these posts...