OK, so the Vancouver Canucks aren’t loaded in the prospect department, but that’s OK: they are a contender for now and probably the next few years, so the distant future isn’t a pressing issue.
With two Canucks players making our top 75 NHL-affiliated prospects list in our annual Future Watch edition, only the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks have fewer. Former No. 2-ranked prospect Cody Hodgson settles in at No. 16, while Jordan Schroeder squeezes in at No. 71.
Hodgson, of course, missed nearly the entire 2009-10 season with an injury and his 18 points in 34 American League games this season were underwhelming. In a brief call-up with Vancouver right now, Hodgson hasn’t seen much ice time, but he has two points and maintains an even rating. Two years ago, before his injury, he was No. 2 on this list and was bumped to No. 4 last season.
Schroeder also dropped from No. 57 last year to his current standing. He has the explosive speed any small player needs to reach the NHL level and he’s figuring to be more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. While he has been putting up points at about the same rate as Hodgson was in the AHL, Schroeder will still need a couple years of pro hockey until he’s ready for the NHL. But with the Canucks sitting where they are, they have all the time in the world.
Graduating from last year’s list is Cory Schneider. He was No. 20 in 2010, but his full-time NHLer status will take him out of the Future Watch pages and onto our primetime TV sets.
As far as the Canucks’ in-system ranking goes, last year’s No. 5 prospect, Sergei Shirokov, plummeted to No. 9. As for progression, free agent signings Eddie Lack and Chris Tanev occupy slots three and five, while Kevin Connauton, Yann Sauve and Anton Rodin all moved up.
So how does the Canucks system stack up to the rest of the NHL? Two years ago a ‘C’ grade had Vancouver ranked 27th in the league and last year’s ‘C+’ moved them up to No. 22. Now that Schneider has graduated and Michael Grabner has graduated and changed organizations the Canucks system certainly has a bit of a different look to it.
But to find out exactly where they rank, you’ll have to pick up a copy of Future Watch, available on newsstands March 14.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.