The Vancouver Canucks are one of twelve teams that have never raised a Stanley Cup and yet they have some of the most dedicated and loyal fans in the league. Perhaps one of the only rivals to the Montreal Canadiens as far as fans go, Vancouver’s fans are very demanding and emotional. Having been teased with the cup in two, game seven Stanley Cup finals losses (1994 and 2011), the fans have displayed their dismay with two riots in Vancouver.
Aside from the losses and riots, the Canucks are a great organization to be a fan of. As a team, they give so much back to the community and more often than not, always put on a good show. Having been to many Canucks games, including playoff games, I can comment on how real the emotion is inside of Rogers Arena. Being a part of the infamous towel wave is genuinely amazing – a trend that many other teams have stolen from Vancouver.
The Canucks have seen some great players come through their organization who have helped take the team to their two Stanley Cup Finals. However, they’ve also had some players that probably hindered the team more than they’ve assisted, but that’s hockey. The Canucks are currently undergoing a revamp and won’t be cup contenders this season but within the next five seasons, I could see another deep playoff push.
In this list, we will be looking at 10 of the best and 10 of the worst Vancouver Canucks since their 1994 cup run. Keep in mind that this list is in no particular order.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into it!
20 20 Best: Markus Naslund
Longtime Canucks captain, Markus Naslund is hands down one of the best players to ever play for Vancouver. Out of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, “Nazzy” is one hell of a hockey player who scored over 30 goals an impressive six times which includes three over 40 goal seasons! Naslund’s best season was the 2002-03 season where scored 48 goals and 104 points, which earned him the Ted Lindsay Award.
A member of the infamous “West Coast Express” line, Naslund played a major role in the Canucks success from 2002-2006 and was a feared and elite NHL goal scorer during his time with the Canucks. On top of his talent, Naslund was also a very consistent player and a great leader of the Canucks; he went 10 straight seasons where he never dipped below 20 goals and played in over 80 games in seven of the 11 full seasons he was in Vancouver!
19 Worst: Jason Strudwick
The big defenceman, Jason Strudwick played 14 NHL seasons for five different teams. Strudwick just never seemed to be up to par with the NHL, as he marked down 55 points in 674 games and sat on an ugly -82 career rating. He really never improved as a player, but he also never really got worse, so nobody can call the man inconsistent.
Strudwick was with the Canucks for 243 contests over five seasons and really just couldn’t find his stride at any point. He was a -15 as a Canuck and managed only a meager 19 points during his stint. The Edmonton, Alberta native was a big customer standing at 6’4” and 226 lbs but was lacking in speed and agility which made him a below average defensive blue-liner on top of his hugely lackluster offensive production.
18 Best: Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler or “R.K.-17” to some, is a great and tenacious two-way center that is loved by his team and hated by everyone else. During his 10 seasons with the ‘Nucks, Kesler scored 182 goals and 393 points over 655 games. He was decently productive offensively but where he really shined was as a shutdown center who could keep some of the best in the game off the score sheet.
Kesler’s best season was the 2010-11 season where he helped lead the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals. During the season, he recorded his career high 41 goals and ended up winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy. When the Canucks played the Nashville Predators in the playoffs of that season, a notoriously defensive team, Kesler was hands down the best player in the series. He singlehandedly destroyed the Preds by playing his complete game of production, shutdown ability, and peskiness.
17 Worst: Donald Brashear
The big, 6’3” and 237 lb enforcer, Donald Brashear played a long 1025 game career over 16 seasons. Brashear was an infamous enforcer who logged 2634 PIMS and exchanged knuckles with some of the best fighters of all time, including names such as Probert, McSorley, Laraque, Domi, and numerous others.
Brashear played 388 games as a Canuck over six seasons. During his tenure with the Canucks, he sat on an unattractive rating of -57 and tallied 1159 PIMS. He was undoubtedly a good enforcer but he seriously lacked in foot speed and overall hockey sense. Brashear was largely a defensive liability despite playing limited 4th line minutes who really just wasn’t a professionally capable offensive player.
16 Best: Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure or “The Russian Rocket” was one of the most exciting and talented players to ever wear a Canucks’ jersey and was recently placed in the NHL’s top 100 players of all time. Bure’s time in Vancouver was nothing short of spectacular as he scored over 50 goals three times, including two back-to-back 60 goal seasons! He was a fan favorite in Vancouver because of his skill with the puck and also his remarkable speed that left most defenders in his rear view.
In seven seasons of play in Vancouver, Bure contributed 254 goals and 478 points in 428 games and if it wasn’t for an untimely back injury that saw him missing most of the games through 1994-1996, those numbers could have been doubled!
15 Worst: Marc Chouinard
The big French-Canadian, Marc Chouinard played in six NHL seasons and finished his career with the Canucks during the 2006-07 season. Chouinard played well in the QMJHL during his time in junior and showed promise prior to his entry into the show in 2000. Unfortunately, the NHL is not the QMJHL and he could never find his footing in the big leagues.
Standing at 6’5”, Chouinard was usually one of the bigger guys on the ice but also one of the slowest. He lacked in foot speed and agility, and simply just couldn’t keep up with most centers he opposed. During his 42 game tenure with the ‘Nucks', he recorded a disappointing four points while sitting on a -2 rating. Just seven months after joining Vancouver, he was placed on waivers – he cleared waivers and moved onto the AHL and then Europe.
14 Best: Mattias Ohlund
Mattias Ohlund was easily one of the best defencemen to ever play in Vancouver. The big Swede stood at 6’4” and 233 lbs and was an extremely versatile player who could be an asset in all situations. Ohlund managed to mark up 325 points in 770 games as a Canuck but was mostly known for his poise and reliability on the back end.
Ohlund logged heavy minutes against opposing team’s star players and was great at shutting them down. On top of his shut down play, Ohlund played on the power play, where he put up 139 points and was also great on the penalty kill, blocking shots and boxing out opponents. Vancouver was truly his home. When he was moved to Tampa Bay, he never really found his footing but did serve as a mentor to the up and coming superstar Swede, Victor Hedman.
13 Worst: David Booth
The Vancouver Canucks had high hopes for the smooth skating David Booth – a one-time 30 goal scorer. Booth proved himself to be a talented hockey player during his time with the Florida Panthers where he scored a respectable 87 goals and 167 points in 309 games. Booth arrived in Vancouver for the 2011-12 season and definitely showed flares of his Florida game, putting up 16 goals and 29 points in 56 games that season.
Unfortunately, Booth’s play fell off drastically and he only managed to chalk up 17 goals and 35 points in his remaining three seasons as a Canuck. His time in Vancouver was plagued with injuries that saw to him being sidelined for the majority of the 2012/13 season, but the real concern was his evident lack of motivation and commitment. Watching the Canucks play, you could really see that Booth was a step behind in most situations.
12 Best: Roberto Luongo
Arguably the best goalie to ever play for the Canucks, Roberto Luongo easily makes it into this list. Luongo played eight seasons for the Canucks where he recorded an impressive 38 shutouts and 252 wins in 448 games (443 starts). A fan favorite, the “Luuuu” chants were something special in Vancouver.
Luongo had a very impressive run with the Canucks and even wore the ‘C’ as a goalie for a period of time – he wasn’t allowed to wear one on his jersey so he had one painted onto his mask. His best season was in 2010/11 where he led the Canucks all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, won 38 of his 60 starts, posted an impressive .928 SV%, and won the William M. Jennings Trophy.
11 Worst: Dan Cloutier
Dan Cloutier played 10 NHL seasons and attained a pretty decent 139 wins in 319 career starts while sitting a career .899 SV%. How could a goalie with numbers like that make it on this list as one of the worst Canucks? It’s simple really, a majority of those wins were due to the team playing in front of him, including a cup-contender 2001-02 roster equipped with a few entries that will appear later on this list.
As a Canuck, Cloutier posted a regular season record of 109-68-24 with three fights (one preseason). Where Cloutier’s true colors really became illuminated, were in the playoffs. His postseason record as a Canuck was a losing one of 10-13 while running on an ugly .872 SV%. The most notable blemish of Cloutier’s tenure as a Canuck was in the 2002 playoffs against the Red Wings, where he let in a blast from center ice – a play that many considered to be the turning point of the series. The Red Wings went on to win the cup that year.
10 Best: Todd Bertuzzi
Todd “Big Bert” Bertuzzi (Pictured Left) is debatably the best power forward to ever play for the Canucks. Bertuzzi was a player who was nearly impossible to check – he would turn his back to defenders and use his size paired with soft hands to keep the puck away. In tight and in front of the net was where Bertuzzi was the most effective and he put up some impressive numbers for a big man. His career best season saw him chipping in 46 goals and 97 points in 82 games during the 2002-03 season.
Another member of the “West Coast Express” line, Bertuzzi had great chemistry with Marcus Naslund - that chemistry and friendship were seemingly his downfall. On March 8th, 2004, Bertuzzi sucker-punched Colorado’s Steve Moore in retaliation for an apparent cheap shot on Naslund. The incident resulted in a serious injury to Moore that ended his career and led to later lawsuits. That was the beginning of the end for the great Canuck, as his production faltered heavily until his retirement.
9 Worst: Dean Malkoc
Born and raised in Vancouver, Dean Malkoc lived out a childhood dream playing for his hometown team to start his NHL career. However, Malkoc’s time as a Canuck was anything but a dream – he posted two points, 136 PIMS and sat on a -10 rating. The big, 6’3” and 200 lb defenceman was signed to add some aggression to a 1995-96 Canucks blue line but he really just wasn’t all that aggressive.
Malkoc played just about a third of his NHL career in Vancouver and marked up exactly half of his points while there – he posted a career four points, 299 PIMS, and held onto a dismal -33 career rating. His career moved like a downhill snowball, getting worse and worse until it inevitably reached the bottom in the 1998-99 season with the Islanders where he played only two games.
8 Best: Trevor Linden
Trevor Linden or “Captain Canuck” is the best captain to ever play in Vancouver and an NHL legend who continues to be a part of the Canucks organization. Linden, who coincidentally wore #16, played 16 seasons for the Canucks and scored over 30 goals six times. Aside from his point production, Linden was also an incredibly hard worker and standing at 6’4” and 220 lbs, he was not an easy center to play against.
The Medicine hat, Alberta native gave everything he had to offer to the Canucks organization, something I’ve discussed in a previous article, and won two awards for it including the NHL Foundation Player Award and also the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Unfortunately, Linden never got to raise a cup in Vancouver as a player but he is currently the president of hockey operations for the Canucks, so hopefully he can see a cup that way.
7 Worst: Jeff Cowan
Out of Scarborough, Ontario, Jeff Cowan played eight NHL seasons and finished up his career with the Canucks in the 2007-08 season. Cowan never really found a home in the show and was a bit of a suitcase, never playing through a complete season. He finished his career with 81 points in 413 games while cuddling up to a disappointing -44 rating.
Cowan played in two seasons as a Canuck and really didn’t look too shabby in his first go around, putting up 10 points in 42 games. Unfortunately, the next season he played four more games only managing one point, 110 PIMS, and a -5 rating. The biggest problem with Cowan’s career was his inability to find a suitable role; he clearly wasn’t an offensive weapon, wasn’t the best of skaters, and just couldn’t physically compete with other enforcers in the league.
6 Best: Alexander Mogilny
Born and raised in Khabarovsk, Russia, Alexander Mogilny or “Al-Mo” was an NHL superstar. A very impressive hockey player, Mogilny was extremely gifted with the puck and nearly scored a goal per game during the 1992-93 season with the Buffalo Sabres where he scored an incredible 76 goals and 127 points in 77 games! Although his numbers weren’t quite as spectacular during his time with the Canucks, it’s hard to leave such talent off this list.
Mogilny played in five seasons as a Canuck where he started remarkably but ended average. His first season in Vancouver, in 1995-96 saw to the Russian tallying 55 goals and 107 points in 79 games. Injuries started to affect the star and his play started to decline rapidly after his third season with the Canucks. Despite being sidelined for a good portion of his final three seasons in Vancouver, Mogilny still never dipped below 35 points. Unfortunately, he never clicked with fellow Russian and earlier entry, Pavel Bure.
5 Worst: Shane O'Brien
An entry in a previous article of mine, Shane O’Brien made quite a reputation for himself during his time in Vancouver. The Port Hope, Ontario native played 141 games as a Canuck over two seasons where he produced 18 points and 275 PIMS. O’Brien was a pretty decent hockey player and had shown a lot of promise in his career but only seemed to run into trouble during his time as a Canuck.
It was no secret that O’Brien did not get along with Canucks’ GM, Mike Gillis and head coach, Alain Vigneault. He had made comments to the media, about Gillis’ leadership, following a handful of public blemishes including a parking lot altercation, taunting of another player and fans after a fight, and even showing up to practice hungover which resulted in a six-day healthy scratch. All the promise in the world couldn’t prevent O’Brien from being one of the biggest liabilities to wear the orca.
4 Best: Ed Jovanovski
Ed Jovanovski or “Jovo Cop” is one of the best blue-liners to ever play for the Vancouver Canucks. He played in seven seasons as a member of the Canucks and recorded a decent 57 goals and 234 points through 434 games. His best season with the Canucks saw to him notching 17 goals and 48 points in 82 games – not too shabby for a defenceman.
“Jovo Cop” was an incredibly smooth skating defenceman with great vision who you wanted orchestrating your team’s breakouts. His #55 became notorious behind the big #44, Todd Bertuzzi, who appeared earlier in this list, and was the defensive backbone of the feared “West Coast Express”. Jovanovski's career went downhill following his departure from Vancouver and he retired with the Florida panthers in 2014.
3 Worst: Steve Staios
Steve Staios was a good NHL player who played just over 1000 games for six different teams over 16 total seasons. He was primarily a defenceman but did play forward for a time and tallied a decent 220 points in his career. However, he did sit on an unfortunate -86 career rating which shed a light on his inconsistencies.
Staios played 143 games as a Canuck through three seasons and put up 15 points alongside 208 PIMS. As a Canuck, he posted an unlucky -13 rating and didn’t live up to his expected potential. Coming off of an 11 point, 54 game season with the Bruins, Staios came out of the gate hot as a Canuck and racked up six points in his first nine games. His production trailed off drastically after that and he was left unprotected during the 1999 expansion draft which saw him moved to the Atlanta Thrashers.
2 Best: Henrik and Daniel Sedin
Yes, I know they’re two players taking up one entry, but Daniel and Henrik Sedin are identical in just about every way, so I saved you from practically reading the same entry twice. The Sedins are the top two point producers in Canucks history – Henrik with 1002 and Daniel with 969. With their careers still rolling on, the twins are going to end up setting a Canucks scoring record that will likely not be beaten – at least not anytime soon with the next closest active player sitting at 380 (Alexandre Burrows).
The Sedins currently wear the ‘C’ (Henrik) and the ‘A’ (Daniel) and are proven leaders on and off the ice in Vancouver – as I’ve touched on in a previous article of mine. The twins’ resume speaks for itself and they’ve collectively taken home quite a bit of hardware during their 16-season stint with the Canucks, including the Art Ross Trophy (2), the Ted Lindsay Award, the Hart Memorial Trophy, and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
The Sedins truly are mesmerizing when they’re on the ice and if you aren’t familiar with their play, I suggest you familiarize yourself with them. They are big bodies equipped with soft hands, unmatched vision, and borderline terrifying chemistry that cause nothing but headaches for their opponents.
1 Worst: Darren Langdon
Darren Langdon was an NHL enforcer who really wasn’t much of a force at all. Langdon played in a total of 521 NHL games where he chalked up 39 points, 1251 PIMS, and sat on a career -13 rating. What you want from an enforcer is a player who can create a spark for your team at timely moments and change the momentum of the game. Unfortunately, instead of creating sparks at timely moments, Langdon was known to take costly and untimely penalties.
Langdon played in Vancouver for 45 games during the 2002-03 season where he only managed one assist and a detrimental 143 PIMS. He was brought on board to add some grit and aggression to the Canucks lineup but really only seemed to hurt the team during his half-season tenure.