There’s a 10-year chasm of futility in the Vancouver Canucks draft record that explains why the development system has been a world of hurt in recent seasons. Between the selections of Alexander Edler and Jannik Hansen in 2004 and the choice of Bo Horvat ninth overall in 2013, the Canucks don’t have a single draft pick playing for them. Sure, Cody Hodgson yielded Zack Kassian, and Frank Corrado is still a good prospect, but that’s nowhere near good enough.
Round 1, pick 23
Round 4, pick 114
Round 5, picks 144, 149
Round 6, pick 174
Secondary scoring has always been an issue in Vancouver. Sooner or later, the Sedin twins will start lagging. The issue will become more acute if Shawn Matthias, tied for third on the team with 18 goals, moves elsewhere as a UFA.
The Canucks are getting old throughout the lineup. The average age of marquee players Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Miller, Dan Hamhuis, Alexandre Burrows, Chris Higgins, Edler and Hansen will be 33-plus next season with a lot of miles on the engines. Vancouver drafted well in 2014, but GM Jim Benning needs some late-round gems in the next few years.
The Canucks are a cap team, and the raises given to Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa and Chris Tanev amount to an extra $5 million next season. So a replacement for Matthias will have to come on the cheap. The franchise hits a fork in the road in 2016, when Eddie Lack, Vrbata, Bieksa and Hamhuis are UFAs looking for windfalls.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
Benning gave up a second-round pick to get Sven Baertschi from Calgary. The 13th overall pick in 2011 will get every opportunity to flourish as a top-six forward. Jake Virtanen, drafted sixth overall by Vancouver in 2014, will push hard for a job on the right wing.
DID YOU KNOW:
The Canucks should avoid drafting 18-year-old defense prospect Radek Polasek from Frydek-Mistek in the Czech junior league this year. Vancouver has had lousy luck with previous Polaseks – Libor 21st overall in 1992 and Adam 145th overall in 2010.