I started writing this post to point out the Canucks’ God-awful drafting history – after all, not one single Canucks draft pick since 2006 has suited up for the team yet – but with Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson seemingly having taken further steps in their development this season and news that 2006 6th round draft pick Sergei Shirokov has agreed to a deal in principle this week to come to North America, I had to give pause and revisit what I wanted to say.
While Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis have made decent strides in selecting NHL-caliber players in recent years, the Canucks obviously aren’t on par with the Detroits and New Jerseys of the drafting world. To be sure, the team had ten of their own draft picks play for them last season (Ohlund, Sedins, Bieksa, Kesler, Schneider, Edler, Brown, Hansen and Raymond), including six from the 2003-2005 drafts (Kesler, Schneider, Edler, Brown, Hansen and Raymond). If (when) Hodgson, Grabner and Shirokov somehow make the team, obviously the list of homegrown talent becomes more impressive.
I can’t remember the last time the Canucks drafted this well for consecutive years. And I can’t remember the last time they had this many of their own draft picks play for them – and play key roles too. Too often, the Canucks have had drafts like the 2000 and 2002 ones that don’t produce regular NHL players. (The jury is still out on the 2007 draft.)
Who knows? Maybe the team has indeed turned a corner in this regard. If they can continue to draft – and develop – well, then it bodes well for them in this salary cap world. With Mike Gillis putting in additional resources towards scouting and player development, the hope is that they can.