WDYTT Summer Debates: The worst first round draft pick in Canucks history

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet more dedicated to showing both sides of the coin than Rotating Coins Weekly, our sister publication.
Speaking of being doomed to failure, we’re all too familiar with the Vancouver Canucks and their history of flubs at the draft table.
Last week, we allowed you to celebrate, via debate, the many excellent first round selections that the Canucks have made over the years.
But sometimes, it feels as though there have been nearly as many misses at hits, and some of the misses have been every bit as grand, showy, and consequential as the home runs.
Some have even been as memorable.
Everyone remembers where they were when the Canucks announced they were selecting someone from the London Knights and it was…not Matthew Tkachuk, but Olli Juolevi.
But is Juolevi at 5th overall the worst of the worst?
Or is there even worser left waiting in the annals of Canucks history, waiting to be unearthed?
This week, we ask you to debate:

Who was the worst first round pick in Vancouver Canucks history?

Make your case in the comment section!
Last week, we asked:

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

You answered below!
It’s too early to judge since he still has most of his career ahead of him, but I would bet that Elias Pettersson will turn to be the best first-round pick. And probably the Canucks’ best player ever.
Scott Pearson:
It’s between the Sedins, Elias Pettersson, and Cam Neely. I’ve seen them all play and if you were to give me the choice of JUST ONE of them to start a team, it would DEFINITELY be CAM NEELY. If I could have BOTH twins, then that’s my choice. But just one? CAM all day long.
EP will be the best first round pick in the history of the Canucks, but the story behind acquiring the Sedins is classic.
Trevor Linden — end of discussion.
Linden still models to this day what it means to be a Canuck. His unique combination of scoring, toughness, character, leadership, and class will never be matched. He played in a tough era and stood up to the rigors, captaining the team through an exciting playoff run and establishing an off-ice culture for many to follow.
Yes, Sedin/Sedin can also receive honorable mention in my books, but they are two players, Linden is one. Nothing against the Sedins, as they are the team’s all-time scoring leaders and also great off-ice ambassadors, and they also displayed a lot of mental toughness in their careers, but Linden did it first and set the tone for those who follow.
Petey-Hughes, both great as well, but time will dictate how they are viewed at closer to the ends of their careers as opposed to the beginning. Being a Canuck and being a great first round draft pick is more than just regular season scoring, and so both have a long way to go to demonstrate what Linden and the Sedins have accomplished off of the ice.
Henrik has my vote, but Pettersson or Hughes could surpass him. I think Henrik would like that very much.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
The best first round pick in Canucks history was Henrik Sedin. While Henrik Sedin is high up in the conversation for best player in team history (most points, most games played, tied with Smyl for longest serving captain), there is a cogent argument to be made for a few other players, including Trevor Linden (the emotional heart of the team closest to hoisting the Cup), Pavel Bure (higher peak of dominance albeit for a shorter time), or even his twin brother.
However, what is not arguable is that, combined, the Sedin twins represented the most significant “entity” to ever take the ice for the team, dominating both on the ice and serving as the twin faces of the best period of success in team history, even if they ultimately fell short of the Holy Grail. The drafting of Henrik at 3rd overall, immediately after Daniel at #2, was the culmination of a franchise-defining series of moves by Brian Burke, and was the act that kept the duo together, clearly an instrumental part of their later success.
For those reasons, I think there can be no other answer. As an extension of that, the team was at a significant nadir with 58 points in the ‘98-‘99 season, and in need of a major boost, only to run head-on into a historically putrid draft class right when they were set to pick high. In getting both twins with those picks, the Canucks got by far the most value of any team out of that draft at such a critical juncture.
Terry Bourcier:
EP40 is the best first round pick.
Cam Neely. He went on to be the prototype for power forwards. Capable of 50 goals a season and feared no one. Many found different ways to turtle when having a go with Neely. Also add worst trade in franchise history.
JJ Daigneault.
defenceman factory:
Quickly reviewed all the Canucks previous first round picks. My favourite player from the Canucks first rd picks is Neely. Pettersson is quickly moving up the list.
A few things stuck out. How many picks never amounted to anything, how little time many of the better picks stayed with the Canucks, and the tragedy of never knowing how good Luc Bourdon could have been. That Tom Cochrane song still haunts me.
Pavel Bure was probably the greatest pick every made by the Canucks, only because they shocked the rest of the league by drafting him the 6th round and pulled one over on the rest of the league. GMs were pissed that Canucks figured out Bure was eligible for being drafted in that draft year and not the next.
But I would have to say the Sedin twins being drafted together was the best first round draft pick ever. Brian Burke was masterful in trading up the draft and managing to get both players at 2nd and 3rd overall. This is especially great since the rest of the draft class was awful.
The drafting of the Sedins is as legendary as the drafting of Bure.
I guess Petey seems like the easy answer, but also he was a 5th overall pick and greatness ought to be expected from such a high pick. Same goes for Hank and Dank at 2nd & 3rd overall. Hughes also comes to mind, though, in terms of how much of a steal he is at 7th overall.
Ultimately, I’m going to have to go with Ryan Kesler at 23rd overall for the sheer value he provided at his draft position. A late first round pick turned into one of the top two-way players in the league for a period of time and a cornerstone of the 2011 team. I’ll never forget his beast-mode performance against Nashville that year. Watching him from 2009-2011 was some of the most consistent, dominating hockey I’d ever seen.
Finally, I’m aware of the flawed nature of discounting the players we picked in the top-five of the first round from my answer, as if that is any knock on them in such a debate. It’s not their fault they lived up to draft expectations while Kesler exceeded his.
That’s a tough question, applying different criteria yields different answers.
Judging by body of work? Have to go with Henrik, the Canucks all-time scoring leader. Dominating his position? That would be Neely. Most exciting? Bure.
My answer is the player who I believe has the best overall skill set in Canucks history: Petey.
Neal Larter:
Cam Neely hands down. It’s unfortunate the Canucks lacked patience in his development.
I think you have to count the Sedins as a pair, but if I had to choose one, it would be Henrik. Perhaps some day, barring injury or trade, Pettersson and/or Hughes will claim this title, but not yet. Linden was a gem, too.
Craig Gowan:
Of those whose careers are over, I’d said Cam Neely and the Sedin twins stand out above the rest. If pressed, I’d choose Henrik Sedin as the Canucks best 1st round draft choice ever. Of those whose careers are not over, Pettersson and Hughes stand out. It’s difficult to pick either as the best choice ever as their careers are not yet finished.

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