Jun 152010

Heading into the 2010 NHL entry draft, who knows what Mike Gillis has up his sleeve.

The Canucks GM probably had one eye fixated on the Chicago Blackhawks’ run towards the Stanley Cup and the other eye focused on what his team didn’t have that the Hawks did. For the second time in four years the Canucks lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion and the patience of Vancouver fans is wearing thin.

What are Gillis’ priorities? Is it finding a way to re-sign restricted free agent Mason Raymond? Or is the third-year general manager assessing whether or not to bring back unrestricted agents Willie Mitchell or Ryan Johnson? Or, dare I say it; is he cooking up a trade to improve his roster?

Perhaps what’s on the mind of Gillis and his associates is how to approach the upcoming draft. While the 2010 class of prospects isn’t an overly strong one in comparison to previous years which has seen superstars emerge in the span of a year or two, there’s no questioning the value of a first-round draft pick.

Traditionally, the Vancouver Canucks have had marginal success when it comes to picking in the first round. Here’s a list of Vancouver’s last ten first-round draft picks:

  • 2000: Nathan Smith
  • 2001: R.J. Umberger
  • 2002: Traded to Washington along with 3rd round pick in 2003 for Trevor Linden and 2nd round pick in 2002
  • 2003: Ryan Kesler
  • 2004: Cory Schneider
  • 2005: Luc Bourdon
  • 2006: Michael Grabner
  • 2007: Patrick White
  • 2008: Cody Hodgson
  • 2009: Jordan Schroeder

Outside of Ryan Kesler, few of those names bring much applause. Umberger has solidified himself as an NHL pro, but not one of his games played has been in a Canuck uniform. Nathan Smith and Patrick White were utter disasters, and due to an unfortunate tragedy the club lost Luc Bourdon. It seems the Canucks are about to find out what they have in Cory Schneider and Michael Grabner, whereas Hodgson and Schroeder are just scratching the NHL surface now.

While some NHL clubs tend to address their positional needs in the draft, some teams have simply entered with the mentality of picking the best player available. The Nashville Predators, who have built their playoff-contending teams through the draft and not via free agency, have an overwhelming array of talented defensemen and few forwards to accompany them.

In the two drafts that Gillis has taken part in with the Canucks, the first round has demonstrated his desire to select the best player available.

Perhaps no draft was more evident of Gillis’ strategy than last season. With Cody Hodgson (a centre) selected the June before, a lot of fans were clamouring for a defenseman to don a Canucks jersey in 2009. But by drafting another centre in Schroeder, it was indicative that Gillis and his scouts are willing to draft outside their organizational needs in order to take someone they believe to have exceptional potential.

This off-season, the Canucks’ need for defensemen is even more apparent. With the Canucks currently slotted in the 25th spot of the entry draft, there are an abundance of defensemen available in that range and some already have NHL size and optimistically could find themselves on the roster within two years.

Once again, however, the 2010 class isn’t exactly a terrific one and outside of the first few selections, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will go next. The Canucks, who have a window of success which could close within the next five years, could easily package their 25th overall pick in order to acquire immediate help.

There really is no telling what Mike Gillis has up his sleeve. Despite the fact he stated on the TEAM 1040 that the Canucks would “be active on July 1” when unrestricted free agency opens, the general manager alos knows that the entry draft is a time for a franchise to build their team for the future.

Jul 042009

Montreal. What a city. That was one of my favourite weekends ever. If you have extra money lying around, go there. Like right now. Finish reading my post (heh) and then book a flight. Make sure you do it right though like I did. Having a good crew to hang with is key. I like to party, so it wouldn’t have worked out if I had gone with a crowd that wanted to hit up the draft and then be tucked up in their hotel bed with a book and a warm glass of milk by 10:30, ya know? (I do read, kittens.Just not on vacation) My Montreal crew was fantastic. A bunch of lovely Leafs fans. They were up for pretty much anything and it was fabulous. I have yet to meet a hockey blogger actually that wasn’t less than completely wicked.

wrap from wraparoundcurl was one of the first kick ass female bishes that commented on The Humming Giraffe way back when and I’ve adored her for ages so it was totally rad to finally meet her in person. It was fun dressing up and drinking the bar with her. She has amazing shoes.

Archi from The Handsome Man’s Guide to Life is wonderful and hilarious. He was always up for a dance party or an epically long nap. My mini trip to Toronto was super comfy because of his hospitality. He protected me on the mean streets of Toronto.

Eyebleaf from Sports and the City is one of the nicest dudes I have ever met. He made sure I got where I needed to go and made me drinks and found stuff when I misplaced it. I wouldn’t have even got to Toronto if he hadn’t stuffed me in his civic.

Jared from Die Hard Bue and White could totally drink me under the table and is super chill to hang out with.

Nathan from A Nation of Masochists is a friendly gent and kept me company while we waited in line at the slowest Timmy Ho’s in the world.

I also met the boys from Pension Plan Puppets and they were nice enough to offer even the Canucks fan free beer.

A general thanks to all the extremely handsome boys that bought me drinks over the weekend. I feel bad but it much appreciated.

One night we met up with the rather famous Wysh from Puck Daddy and he was a stand up guy and delighfuly friendly.

At one point while we were drinking on a patio we met a hilariously intoxicated Habs fan that let us know he was an expert on French Canadian goalies and the proceeded to talk about Martin Fleury and when I threw out Lui’s name he said “Who?!!” One of the funniest parts of the trip for sure.

Friday night coming out of the first round of the draft we stumbled across Brian Burkie and made cheering noises and the Leafs fans said stuff like you’re the man. We definitely got the Burkie stare. It’s a little scary up close.

At the draft I was one of the only Canucks fans representing in person so I did us proud. I cat called when the Canucks were called up. I Looooooued when Lui came out to select their first pick. I yelled “I love you Gillis!” Not sure if he heard me but I hope so. Lui was looking all kinds of foxy. Definitely a good idea to put a tie on with that same suit he wore to the NHL awards. The tie just made it better.

I guess I should throw some actual hockey content into this post to end things off, eh? I can’t believe Jordan Shroeder fell to the Canucks. He’s going to end up being a steal. I can just feel it. He’s a little short, maybe that’s why. But he’s not scrawny. He’s like thicker. The poor dear couldn’t get his Canucks sweater over his head. I don’t think he’s simple though, don’t worry. He was just nervous. Anton Rodin is a Swede. Yesssss. And from unsubstantiated gossip I heard around the draft, a lot of the Euro scouts think he’ll end up being one of the steals of the draft. Peter Andersson is a big Swedish defenceman (It’s like Gillis was drafting just for me!) . Time will tell, but I like the cut of this draft’s jib overall.

As you all probably have heard by now, Matty Ohlund is leaving our lovely city for Tampa Bay. Even though I had come to this conclusion months ago and somewhat made my pacee with it, my reaction upon waking up Wednesday morning was something like “OOHHHHHHHHHH GOD NOOOOOOOO!! NOT MY OHLIE!!!!!” It wasn’t pretty.

But if he’s happy, I’m happy. He’ll have a great time there. They’ll appreciate him and he’ll get a bigger role and he’ll get to mentor the little bebeh Hedman. I’ll say this though, the Canucks better be planning to bring their absolute A game to wooing me next season. Between signing my favourite player, drafting my cousin last year, and drafting that stunning Swede Hedman, the Lightning are really putting together a good package here. Canucks, bring the adorable, that’s all I’m saying.

Mikael Samuelson? I’m down. Swede. Good contract. Hopefully he’ll skate with the Sedins on the power play.

Gillis needs to find a defenceman and replace some handsomeness we lost when Matty Ohlund left and I think I’ll be satisfied. Now, back to your regularly scheduled summer and I’m back to daydreaming about Montreal.

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