They say hindsight is 20/20. Never more true is that than when you look at the draft history of the Vancouver Canucks. They have had some great home run picks including the pick of Cam Neely (let's forget that they gave him away for peanuts), the selection of the Sedin twins in 1999, and of course the Canucks legend himself current president of hockey operations, Trevor Linden.
They made a few solid first round selections such as Ryan Kesler in 2003 and Mattis Ohlund in 1994. Like any good team they had some late round steals like #113 overall Pavel Bure and #175 overall Patrik Sundstrom.
This list however is about all the swings and misses, the type of picks that can set a franchise back many years. Every team has them. Every fan agonizes over them. The Canucks have had more than their fair share and you will see the 15 of the worst featured today. For the purpose of this article I tried sticking to mainly first round busts as well as players they could have picked within the first 2 rounds. Saying a team missed out on say Henrik Lundquist (205th Overall in 2000) is illogical as every team missed out on him multiple times over.
One player you won't see on this list is Luc Bordon, who tragically passed away at the age of 21. Who knows what he could have accomplished in his career. So even though the Canucks could have had Anze Kopitar (11th), Marc Staal (12th), Tukka Rask (21st) or T.J Oshie (24th) among countless others it just didn't feel fair putting him on this list.
So here we go, get your tissues ready as we dive into a list of the top 15 worst draft mistakes in Vancouver Canucks history.
15 Rick Vaive
Rick Vaive ended his NHL career in 1991-92 with a very respectable 441 Goals, 347 assists, and 788 points. His production is not necessarily why he makes this list. For most players scoring almost 800 points is a very productive career. Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks, only 21 of those points came as a member of the Canucks. Packaged in a deal to bring the legendary Dave "Tiger" Williams to Vancouver, Vaive had most of his success in the NHL as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This draft was littered with guys who could have helped the Canucks in a much more meaningful way. The legendary Bruin Ray Bourque went 8th, Michel Goulet went 20th and Kevin Lowe went 21st.
14 Alek Stojanov
This pick would be ranked in the top 10 if it wasn't for who he was traded for. Let's back things up however; Alex Stojanov was a highly touted player in junior. He made waves when he pummelled Eric Lindros in a fight. Known as a player that could score and fight, Stojanov was expected to be a fixture of the Canucks. A shoulder injury suffered in the AHL would forever change his career as he never had the same offensive flair to his game again.
Now playing purely as an enforcer, the Canucks realized they made a grave error and quickly sent Stojanov to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 1995-96 NHL trade deadline for Markus Naslund. Stojanov would continue to struggle at the NHL level and would only score 7 points in a 107 game career, while Naslund would end up retiring as the all time scoring leader in Canucks history (a mark since passed by both Sedins).
13 Dennis Ververgaert
Here is one of those picks that just infuriate a fanbase. Dennis Ververgaert came into the NHL on fire! Averaging over 20 goals per season for his first five years, Dennis seemed to be on his way to establishing himself as a strong right wing presence for the Canucks for years to come. Then it all went wrong, Struggling to get chemistry with his new linemates and feeling the pressure of the emergence of Stan Smyl, Ververgaert crumbled under the pressure. After starting his career so good, he was out of the league by 1980-1981.
12 Dale Tallon
11 Jocelyn Guevermont
10 Jere Gillis
9 Cody Hodgson
8 Garth Butcher
7 Troy Gamble
6 Kirill Koltsov
5 Brad Ference
Even the Vancouver Canucks realized the error of their ways after this pick was made. Brad Ference was a big defenseman coming out of the WHL in the 1997 NHL draft. After being drafted the Canucks would return Ference to his junior team both seasons he was eligible for. On January 17th, 1999 the Canucks cut their losses with Ference, throwing him in as part of a blockbuster trade that sent Pavel Bure, Ference, Bret Hedican, and a 3rd round pick to the Florida Panthers for Dave Gagner, Ed Jovanovski, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and a 1st round pick in 2000.
4 Petr Nedved
3 Patrick White
2 Jason Herter
1 Dan Woodley
There is not much that can be said about this pick that is positive. Dan Woodley was picked 7th overall but struggled to even stay in the NHL. He was only able to make it for five games in Vancouver before being traded for another horrific draft bust in Jose Charbonneau. Woodley is infamous for being one of only three top ten picks from the 1980s that would play less than 10 games in the NHL. Similiar to the year before this pick is mde all the worse by the quality of player Vancouver passed on to draft him.
Picked just two selections after Woodley was first ballot Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, who of course would play a big part in the New York Rangers defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. Just think how different things could have been had Richter and Leetch been on the Canucks instead. For his complete inability to perform at the NHL level and the sheer talent that the Canucks passed over to draft him, Dan Woodley is the worst draft pick in Vancouver Canucks history.
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