pierre-luc dubois

Canucks: All The Pain Drafting Can Buy

The Canucks aren’t exciting anymore…like on any level. Most of the fan base, the media and even its biggest critics have lost interest in the spark that seems to always allude this team. Struggling last season to a point we all thought there was a very real possibility Auston Matthews could actually be a Canuck, only to win just enough games to slam that door shut. The second place prize was pretty nice too, Patrik Laine was arguably just as good but of course, the Canucks put together a handful of wins at the very end and finish third last.

And then there was the lottery. What’s worse than picking 3rd instead of 1st? How about 5th? Thanks to the phrase “that’s so Canucks”, Vancouver was dealt yet another crappy hand in its illustrious franchise history. Drafting really hasn’t been nice to the Canucks and it’s caused many a heartache.

 

Every year, there is hope, every year there is pain and frustration. The Canucks drafting is a lot like buying a CD (remember those?) for that one hit song you heard on Much Music and your local top 40. You were excited to get on the wagon and be popular like all your friends. The problem is, you buy that CD and you put it in your discman (seriously, stop dating us) and after that first song, you realize the rest of the album really wasn’t all that good.

Of course I’m speaking of the 90’s and early 2000’s. So you’ve listened to this album a number of times trying so hard to like the rest of the tracks but you just can’t. But NOW, you’re wondering if that hit song was really all that good or if you just really liked the music video? Now, that song isn’t as impressive anymore and you kind of regret buying the CD in the first place.

My boy, Jackson Jackson aka Johnny Perogy on twitter and fellow Canucks Army writer guessed bang on which album I was talking about and I really couldn’t be more excited, mainly that we both had semi-bad taste in music. As the pic up top shows, I’m talking about All the pain money can buy by Fastball; you know the song (the way).

It actually wasn’t that bad an album but it was not worth the 13 bucks I paid. The Way was a great song, catchy and they played that thing into the ground on the radio.

This year, we had seen the mock drafts and speculated if Jim Benning would trade down and net some more picks after wastefully trading them away with other prospects that he just drafted, first rounders he just drafted; maybe he was going to trade that pick with a few stars to get PK Subban? Probably shouldn’t have talked about Subban, I don’t think I have enough money for potential tampering fines. 

OK, so the 2016 NHL Draft starts and as expected the Leafs get uber prospect Auston Matthews, he of Zurich. It’s exciting for Leafs fans everywhere because all of the years of sucking so hard, signing awful contracts to awfuller players and putting people in charge of the team that were hype more than help, the Leafs got better that day.

The Jets did as expected and selected Finnish star Patrik Laine. Some say he was the best player in the draft and compare him to a grittier Teemu Selanne. What could be better? And now its the Bus’ turn and Jesse Puljujarvi was ready to picked…byyyyyy the Oilers?

Columbus had the shocker of the draft and took the Canucks Pierre Luc Dubois at 3. It was over. Months of speculation – done. But maybe the Oilers were stupid enough to take someone else and let Puljujarvi go to 5? Nope. You cheer for the Canucks, that’s not happening.

All the hype that came with this draft, the potential promise of a star hybrid centre/winger coming to Vancouver was destroyed. But fear not, we got a stud #2 ceiling defenseman: Olli Juolevi. He isn’t amazing in any one area but he’s good at a lot of things. His brain is what seperates him and what puts him higher up on the rankings, one might say he’s smart like Nicklas Lidstrom; Bennings words not mine.

Why take a defenseman at 5 when you could probably get him around 9 by trading down? Why not just take a star winger like Matthew Tkachuk, a proven goal scorer from the London Knights? Is he Corey Perry, we’ll never know…we picked Juolevi. This organization needs pep and there is no pep. We were all very happy to have Dubois and once again our dreams were crushed.

From the first days of the Canucks being a franchise and getting Dale Tallon (insert wrong price sound on Price is Right) to trading Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick; we just don’t have the luck or the right people to take this team over the top. Imagine if Dale Tallon was hired to GM the Canucks instead of Florida or Chicago? Sorry, that was mean.

There has only been a handful of times the Canucks have made the splash we wanted AND it panned out. There isn’t a history of success and aside from making the Stanley Cup Final 3 times, Vancouver has never been out of the 2nd round. At the draft, the possibilities of taking a superstar always escape the Canucks and looking back on previous years, it’s heartbreaking.

I am a big proponent of drafting local even if the East is loaded with talent as well. Heard of Duncan Keith, how bout Shea Weber, or maybe Milan Lucic? All players the Canucks could have easily drafted but instead took less than amazing options in those rounds.

The whole point of the draft is to sell hope, to bring in the next stars that will lead your team to a Stanley Cup. You can’t do that if you ignore the players right in front of your nose, those same players you can see down the street. The OHL and the Q always get so much spotlight and rightfully so, there are tons of forwards that end up being the NHL’s elite but not all of them come from the east.

Forgetting about the Western Hockey League has burnt the Canucks on many occasions and when they haven’t forgot about it, they’ve picked there too late. All 3 of those players I mentioned were very attainable and because the Canucks picked Michael Grabner, Marc Andre Bernier and Kirill Koltsov, their history has been quite different. How’d that go?

Jim Benning has actually done a pretty good job at the draft since he has been hired, even though he seems to part with his choices quicker than anyone would anticipate. His scouting prowess is the stuff of legends and apparently he doesn’t mind telling people. Like maybe you shouldn’t be so trusting Jimbo. Have a listen:

Jeff Paterson PAT CAST!!! – Olli Juolevi the second choice?

Drafting for many years has not been the strong suit for the Canucks and even though things have turned around slightly, there isn’t much to be excited about until the likes of Thatcher Demko, Brock Boeser and Cole Cassels crack the roster. It’s been the same year after year – hype, draft, disappointment. Until there is some dynamite breakthrough, get used to that formula.

Hang tight Canucks fans, the saying “pain is only temporary” doesn’t apply to us.

Is The Draft The Turning Point For The Canucks?

Sure, lead with a question. Click bait? Maybe. But let’s get real for a second. Its been a few months since the Canucks shamed out for the year and it’s already time to draft the next wave of players that our future GM can trade away for parts. The recent trade of Jared McCann for Erik Gudbranson (plus other stuff we could debate forever) was a move forward any way you look at it.

Either it’s McCann was expendable and they needed a core defenseman teams can be scared of and trading a piece they can upgrade at the draft was the easiest route or, Benning actually feels McCann is in the Cody Hodgson category and we will all praise him years from now. The Draft might be time where the sad sack Canucks take a turn for the better.

 

Jim Benning has done a pretty good job at the draft since he got here.  In 2 years he brought in Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Thatcher Demko, Nikita Tryamkin, Brock Boeser and (a really good player drafted here). These are the keepers, well except McCann; two of these guys are already everyday roster players and its only a year or so before Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko are regulars as well.

That’s impressive if you care to say it. Trusting that Bo Horvat was ready, taking a chance on Sven Baertschi as well as a few other decisions; Benning IS building this team up whether we want to believe it or not.

Yes, he’s also dismantling it at the grassroots level just as quick as he’s created it and there’s no amount of analysis that can figure him out in that regard.

This go around at the draft is special though. As of right now, the Canucks hold the 5th pick but that’s right now. Benning says he’s taking calls and listening to offers and over at Canucks Army, the roundtable discussed what real situations could arise that involved trading that pick. Depending on how close ownership/management feels the Canucks are to being competitive again, they might just go for it and heck, make an offer for Auston Matthews.

A combination of drafting and shrewd free agent signings can also go a long way in sculpting the next wave of the Canucks. Troy Brouwer, Steven Stamkos (if you believe he’s available), Milan Lucic, David Backes and Andrew Ladd are all character guys with talent..and a few Cups for some of them. Money can buy some of that talent but it’s the draft itself that gets you them for free.

The consensus players available are that of Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois. It could be mayhem by that point but Dubois sounds like the one they should get. Is it all about that high pick though? What about the remaining picks?

We’ve seen players like Tyler Benson fall from top 3 status early on to late first round/second round ranking. We’ve been told many times over the airwaves that when Benson gets back to 100%, that team gets a steal. This may very well be true and Benning would be wise to remember the kid playing in his back yard if he gets the chance.

I’ve championed the notion that the WHL players many of us see on the reg’ (slang for regular) are missed opportunities and when they blow up elsewhere it’s always “how come they didn’t draft THAT guy when he came around?”

Dante Fabbro and Lucas Johansen are a few players that fall in that category, ok Fabbro was BCHL, and the impact picks are really made when the lights dim. With no second round pick currently, he’ll have to get creative. I can see at least one trade being made to move up into the second round.

Looking at past Cup winners and really, just super successful teams, having home grown talent from draft day right through development up to the big club is how you create a true winner. Detroit did it, Chicago did it, Pittsburgh did it and may very well do it again and yes, so did LA. Trading away and giving up on players before they’ve given you a proper chance to make a rational decision only pushes that development of the team further back.

There’s a wave coming in Vancouver and its not the tsunami from the mega thrust earthquake that will sink the whole west coast (like on San Andreas with the Rock. Remember that movie? Love the Rock, he’s great…whoops, went on a tangent there.); Bo Horvat is so close to being what we all hope he’ll be. He’s the next “C” and if he takes it from Henrik, this team is ready.

Looking deeper, Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev and sure Big RusTryamkin have developed into reliable defenders. Gudbranson we hope will give Vancouver the grit and snarl that it has lacked since Bieksa left in 2012 (really anytime after the Cup Final). A healthy Brandon Sutter frees up Horvat and in turn gives whoever they’re drafting a quicker transition from pick to player.

The draft is an opportunity for Jim Benning to decide if HIS Canucks are turning the corner. He can make or break this team and despite many of our intentions to hate him, he holds all the keys to all the doors and this is the one time trusting Jimbo means going all in.

There isn’t much room for error and if this current go around tanks, we could look back at this draft as the breaking point.

But no pressure.

photo – vancouversun.com