The Canucks have had quite a stable of players participate in the World Junior Hockey Championships and many have become stars shortly after. In my last article showcasing the forwards that ended up playing for Vancouver, we really saw some phenomenal talent. The defense and goaltenders aren’t exactly in the same wheelhouse but gosh darn it, they deserve credit too! Here then, are the Canucks World Junior defensemen and goaltenders, you know, before they were Canucks.
To be fair, the Canucks have had some pretty good defensemen, they just haven’t necessarily been stars at the World Juniors. To boast about the team they could have overall put together though, would be easy. Jiri Slegr had a good tournament in 1990 leading the Czechs to a bronze over Finland. He finished that tourny with 3 goals and 4 assists and was named to the All Tournament Team.
Mattias Ohlund had a great Juniors in 1996 with Sweden. They would lose to Canada, obviously, in the Gold Medal Game but he was an all star as well. He notched 5 assists and was a hot commodity at the draft.
He turned out alright.
On the other side of that 96 scrum was career minor leaguer, Nolan Baumgartner. It’s amazing to see guys dominate in junior and just not translate that into an NHL career of the same caliber. Regardless, Baumer made his time count that year. With only a goal and an assist that year, his play on the blue line alongside future NHLers Wade Redden and Chris Phillips was noticed. Baumer was on a stellar Kamloops Blazers Memorial Cup Champs team that year which is arguably one of the greatest junior teams ever.
When you play for, at that time, a lesser World power like Germany, it’s tough to get proper recognition. Christian Ehrhoff was a group B player so the love just wasn’t there. From 2001-2002 Ehrhoff put up 4 goals and 10 assists and would play at the Olympics in Salt Lake in 2002 for Germany as well. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover; Group B or not, Ehrhoff was a star.
Before he was traded to the Canucks with Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe had a stellar rookie year for the Islanders. Before THAT, he was dominating for Canada at the World Junior Championships. Putting up 3 goals and 9 assists, McCabe was named top defenseman, won a Gold medal with Canada and was part of one of the best Junior Champions teams ever! Honorable mention goes to Ed Jovanovski. He potted 2 goals for that team as well and despite the nickname “JovoCop“, he is not, nor has he ever been a police officer.
Finally, we turn our attention to a player who never got to achieve his full potential. Luc Bourdon’s life was taken way to early following a motorcycle accident in 2008. He was a major junior star and a mainstay on Canada’s blue line on both of the Gold medal teams he was a part of. Luc’s best performance was in the 2006 World Juniors when he notched 1 goal and 5 assists, player of the game honors against Norway and was named to the all tournament team. A truly remarkable player, it’s a shame the hockey world was robbed of such a special person. Bourdon is on the other Canadian team that is argued to be the best ever at the Juniors.
The last line of defense, the goalies, isn’t the Canucks strongest position as far as junior play goes. Dan Cloutier was pretty good, but Jamie Storr was better. Roberto Luongo was good, but Artem Chubarov was better. Cory Schneider….well you see where this is going. The one tendy that got the most recognition was Jacob Markstrom. He’s new to the Canucks but he was a beast for Sweden. Notching back to back 4-1 records in 2009/10, he was top goaltender in 2009 with a 1.61 GAA and .943 SA %. It ain’t pretty folks but this is where the Canucks would be. Thankfully, their NHL careers have been much better.
Ok, I take it back; Roberto Luongo was the Canucks best goalie in junior. So what if he let in the Gold medal goal against Russia in 1999? He received the same honors as Markstrom and only had a few more points to his GAA at 1.92 but had 2 shutouts. Go Canada Go!
So there you have it; the Vancouver Canucks All World Junior Team! Some studs when they were young as well as some duds when they grew up. I would be quite happy to see this team get iced in a best on best all time, we might lose but honestly who cares? This was fun and I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of the Canucks history.
Here are the D pairings and goaltender for conversations sake:
Slegr – McCabe
Bourdon – Ohlund
Baumgartner – Ehrhoff
Team MVP has to go to Pavel Bure. Don’t even need to explain why.
Cover photo from hockeycanada.ca