I was watching the Vancouver Canucks try and kill a penalty against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night when I noticed the players Alain Vigneault threw on the ice. The first group included Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows and the second group included Jannik Hansen and Rick Rypien. I then looked at the box score (NHL.com) at the end of the game and noticed the list of goal scorers – Hansen, Kesler, Burrows and Mason Raymond.
And I got to thinking… Since when did we have the Manitoba Moose on our roster?
In fact, the entire Canucks roster this season have no fewer than 11 players drafted or developed by the organization:
- Mattias Ohlund – 1st round, 1994
- Daniel Sedin – 1st round, 1999
- Henrik Sedin – 1st round, 1999
- Kevin Bieksa – 5th round, 2001
- Ryan Kesler – 1st round, 2003
- Alex Burrows – signed by the Moose, 2003
- Alex Edler – 3rd round, 2004
- Mike Brown – 5th round, 2004
- Jannik Hansen – 9th round, 2004
- Mason Raymond – 2nd round, 2005
- Rick Rypien – signed by the Moose, 2005
I’m trying to remember a time when the Canucks had that many homegrown players. (I believe the team from the Westcoast Express days came close with ten – Sedin, Sedin, Linden, Chubarov, Cooke, Ruutu, Kesler, King, Ohlund and Allen – but I could be wrong.) What is even more impressive is that these players play key roles on the team, including 6 of its top 9 forwards and 3 of its top 6 defensemen. So far, a total of 11 different Canucks have scored a goal this season and 9 of them are on the above list.
Considering the criticism this team has received over the years about its drafting record, it’s nice to finally see some success stories. I don’t think we’ll forget Shawn Antoski, Jason Herter and Nathan Smith anytime soon, but at least, there seems to be some improvement in this area. And with Cory Schneider, Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner also in the system, it can get even better.