It’s not a secret the Vancouver Canucks have not had the best luck, insight and/or intuition regarding their first round draft picks over the years. There have been some very notable mis-picks and for whatever reason, the Canucks haven’t really learned from their past mistakes and continue to miss the mark more often than not.
Here’s a look at some of the bigger mis-picks the Canucks have made with that 1st round pick. Listed after each pick are players the Canucks could have had after their draft pick was made.
(AS) – All-Star (HOF) Hall of Fame
1973 Dennis Ververgaert
Ververgaert played with the London Knights of the OHL, scoring 147 points in 1972–73, including a franchise record 89 assists (Sergei Kostitsyn later broke that record) and was selected 3rd overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. He was big and skilled and many thought he had the potential to be a big name player in the NHL. He played six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks before moving on to Flyers and the Capitals. He had a decent career but not the one the Canucks were hoping for when they drafted him.
Notable available picks: Lanny McDonald (HOF), Bob Gainey(HOF)
1977 Jere Gillis
Drafted 4th overall in 1977 by the Canucks, Jere Gillis did not pan out as much as the team would have liked. In 386 games, Jere Gillis scored 78 goals, 95 assists totaling 173 points. He had a 10 year NHL career with some stints in the minors in between a few of those years. Gillis played for the Canucks, Rangers, Flyers, Sabres and the Nordiques organizations.
Notable available picks: Ron Duguay (AS), Mike Bossy (HOF)
1979 Rick Vaive
Chosen 4th overall in the 1979 NHL Entry draft, Rick Vaive was not at all a bad choice when looking at his career numbers (GP 876 G441 A 347 ) except the majority of those numbers were put up playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, including being the first 50 goal scorer in Maple Leaf franchise history. He was traded along with Bill Derlago for Dave “Tiger” Williams and Jerry Butler in a lop-sided trade in favour of the Maple Leafs, but that’s another #TBT subject.
Notable available picks: Raymond Bourque (HOF), Michel Goulet (HOF)
1981 Garth Butcher
Chosen 10th overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Garth Butcher became a Canucks fan favourite and was also known for selling Trevor Linden a classic 60’s Mustang during Linden’s rookie year. He became an integral part of the “Blues Brothers” trade in the 1990’s that brought a group of players to put the Canucks into a playoff position. Butcher did well for someone who was more of a shut down 3rd line guy, but the Canucks could have had a HOF defenseman with a wicked shot.
Notable available picks: Al McInnes (HOF)
1986 Dan Woodley
Dan Woodley was the 7th overall pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft from the Portland Winterhawks. With the Winterhawks, Woodley posted a 108 pt season and an 100 pt season, so the appeal was strong with the Canucks to draft him. Playing only five NHL with the Canucks, he spent the rest of his career in the minors between the AHL and the former IHL. In picking Woodley, another HOF defenseman was left for the Rangers to grab.
Notable available picks: Brian Leetch (HOF)
1990 Petr Nedved
Nedved had a decent career in the NHL, but not the player many predicted him to be when he defected to Canada. Due to limited opportunities in communist Czechloslovakia to play, Nedved ended up in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds. There he scored 145 points in 71 games. Nedved played three years with the Vancouver Canucks with a 38 goal 31 assist season in 92/93. Due to a bitter contract dispute with the Canucks and he held out. Nedved went to play for the St. Louis Blues, in a trade, for Craig Janney. However the Canucks could have had fellow Czech and future HOF and a reputation to be tough as nails instead of Nedved.
So in 1990, the Canucks had not one but two picks in the 1st round and they missed on both of them. For their 18th overall pick, Pat Quinn went with Shawn Antoski. A rough and tough checker that wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Quinn had a reputation for liking these types of players and Antoski wasn’t an exception. In his NHL career, Antoski played 183 games, scored 3 goals, 5 assists giving him a total of 8 points. He has played for the Canucks, Flyers, Penguins and the Ducks. Even with Jagr gone out of the pick pool, an American All-star level forward who scored more than 500 NHL goals and probably the best goalie of all time who solidified his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame was still up for grabs, but instead, Quinn went with Antoski.
Notable available picks: Jaromir Jagr (AS) before Antoski- after Antoski – Keith Tkachuk(AS) , Martin Brodeur (AS)
1991 Alek Stojanov
In true Pat Quinn fashion, with the 7th overall pick in 1991, Alek Stojanov was chosen. The Windsor, ON native played his junior hockey in the OHL. He put up decent numbers and had no problems dropping the gloves. Although, his transition into the NHL did not go as planned. He ended up only playing 107 games, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists in his NHL career. However, Stojanov proved to be the bait to eventually catch the big fish in 1995. He was traded to Pittsburgh for Markus Naslund. Later on, Naslund ended being the future Captain of the Vancouver Canucks and became an All-Star in the NHL. Stojanov played a few more years in the minors after the trade and eventually retired to become a firefighter in Pennsylvania.
Notable available picks: Markus Naslund (AS), Alexei Kovalev (AS)
1997 Brad Ferrence
The 10th overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft is Brad Ference. He didn’t even play one game for the Vancouver Canucks because he was traded to the Florida Panthers with Pavel Bure and Bret Hedican in January 1999. The Canucks received Dave Gagner, Ed Jovanovski, Mike Brown and Kevin Weekes in return. 250 games and 34 points later, it was a good trade. Ference was more known for dating US Olympic figure skater, Michelle Kwan than what he did on the NHL ice. Although, the Canucks could have gotten a sniper and cup chaser instead.
Notable available picks: Marian Hossa (AS)
2006 Michael Grabner
The 14th overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is far from a bust in his career, but Grabner wasn’t a Canuck for very long. Don’t get me wrong, Grabner is a hell of a player and his story is not yet fully told in the NHL. Traded to the Florida Panthers with Steve Bernier for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. The Panthers waived this gem and was picked up by the Islanders and so far having a nice go at the NHL on Long Island. But, how good would have this guy looked in a Canucks uniform…
Notable avaiable picks: Claude Giroux
2007 Patrick White
In 2007, the Canucks chose Patrick White 25th overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Some of you are probably wondering who is he? Well, I am sitting here thinking about it and you’re all right, who is he? With a draft that boasted Patrick Kane and Logan Couture, anything beyond the top 10 picks was pretty much a crap shoot, and well, the Canucks crapped out. White is playing out in Slovakia and did play for a KHL team and really hasn’t been heard from since in North American hockey. The only player that would have appealed to me in that draft class wasn’t even in the 1st round after White but the 2nd round and he became a Norris Trophy winner in 2013.
Notable available picks: PK Subban (2nd round)
Hindsight is definitely 20/20 and foresight isn’t always as clear as we thought it would be at the time. It seems to be an ongoing problem for the Canucks drafting team. However, we have seem some gems over the years and didn’t lose all our first rounds by a country mile. These were just some to remind us of “Picks of Drafts Past” on this #ThrowbackThursday.
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