In the latter years of the 2000s and early parts of this decade, the Vancouver Canucks were the beneficiaries of some stellar NHL goaltending. They received top tier netminding from Roberto Luongo for many parts of eight seasons and were able to draft and develop Cory Schneider into a top notch goalie as well. This helped the Canucks win six consecutive division titles and back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and make an appearance in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Whether goaltending is ultimately to blame for their failure to win that Final is debatable, but there’s no questioning that that era provided the Canucks with the best goaltending the franchise has ever seen.
The Canucks embarrassment of riches between the pipes quickly disappeared when, after more than a year of shopping Luongo, they traded Schneider instead, only to ship Luongo out as well several months later, handing the team’s goaltending reigns to an unproven Eddie Lack. Lack showed signs of potential and of course, was traded as well after splitting one season with an aging Ryan Miller.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Canucks have managed to mishandle their goaltending situation this badly. After all, historically, acquiring top notch netminding hasn’t exactly been the team’s biggest strength. They received some quality years from Richard Brodeur in the 1980s and Kirk McLean in the early to mid 1990s, but otherwise it’s been a revolving door at the position. They’ve often brought in one mediocre netminder after the other in hopes of improving the position, but never finding much success.
Out of all of those failed attempts to improve at game’s most important position, here are the top 15 Worst Goaltenders in Vancouver Canucks History:
15. Troy Gamble
Drafted 25th overall in 1985, Troy Gamble remains the highest ever drafted goalie by the Canucks. In the summer of 1988, the team sent Gamble to Russia for an intense training regiment with Dynamo Moscow and the following season he displayed his potential in a handful of games with the Canucks. In 1990-91, Gamble outplayed starter Kirk McLean, posting a 16-16-6 record with an .879 SV% in 47 games, and began the postseason as the team’s starter.
Unfortunately for Gamble, that would be the height of his NHL career as he’d soon be derailed by concussion problems and the following season would be his last with the Canucks. He played just 19 games for the team in 1991-92 with a .859 SV% and spent the final five years of his career in the minors.
14. Mika Noronen
Drafted in the first round, 21st overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in 1997, Mika Noronen spent a couple of more seasons in his native Finland and two in the AHL before he looked ready for primetime. However, with the presence of Dominik Hasek and later Ryan Miller, Noronen never received much playing time in Buffalo. He played 28 games across three up and down seasons before finally getting into 35 games in 2003-04. Following the 2004-05 lockout, Miller firmly established himself as the Sabres number one and with Martin Biron as the back-up, Noronen’s days in Buffalo were numbered.
With Dan Cloutier sidelined with an injury, the Canucks were looking for insurance behind Alex Auld and at the 2006 trade deadline dealt a second round draft pick for Noronen. However, Noronen got into just four games with the Canucks, going 1-1 with an .870 SV% and returned to Europe the following offseason.
13. Andrew Raycroft
Andrew Raycroft actually posted his best numbers since his Calder Trophy winning rookie campaign with the Boston Bruins during his lone season with the Canucks in 2009-10. With Loungo firmly entrenched as the team’s number one, Raycroft was only relied upon to be the team’s back-up and posted a 9-5-1 record with a .911 SV %.
However, it was fairly evident from his time in Toronto and Colorado that Raycroft couldn’t be relied upon long term and the Canucks’ decision to bring him in for a year rather than make Schneider the back-up may have prevented them from having Schneider blossom into a potential number one sooner.
12. Sean Burke
Sean Burke’s goaltending as a rookie at the end of the 1987-88 season played a key role in helping the New Jersey Devils to their first playoff appearance in franchise history and his play in the postseason got the team to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final. After three more seasons in New Jersey, Burke sat out in a contract dispute and was subsequently traded to the Hartford Whalers. After parts of six up and down seasons with the Whalers/Hurricanes, Burke was dealt to the Canucks in January of 1998. He lasted just two months in Vancouver, posting a 2-9-4 record with a .876 SV% in 16 games, before they attempted to upgrade their goaltending once again by shipping him to the Philadelphia Flyers for Garth Snow.
11. Kevin Weekes
After playing just 11 games as a rookie for the Florida Panthers, Kevin Weekes was shipped to the Canucks in a blockbuster deal that also brought Ed Jovanovski to Vancouver and saw Pavel Bure go to Florida. Weekes played less than a full year in Vancouver and didn’t show much, posting a 6-15-5 record with an .887 SV%. He was subsequently traded to the New York Islanders in a deal for Felix Potvin, but it wasn’t until the end of his stint in Tampa Bay and his time in Carolina, where he helped the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2002, that Weekes finally began to show his potential.
10. Alex Auld
After showing potential in just 14 games over his first three NHL seasons, the Canucks made Alex Auld their starter in 2005-06 after an ACL injury sidelined Dan Cloutier. Auld played 67 games going 33-26-6 with a .902 SV% and the Canucks failed to reach the postseason for the first time in five seasons. It became apparent that Auld likely wasn’t capable of being a starter long term and for the team to have any type of success, they were going to have to find an upgrade in net. The following summer, Auld and Todd Bertuzzi were shipped to the Panthers in the trade for Luongo.
9. Glen Hanlon
Drafted 40th overall by the Canucks in 1977, Glen Hanlon played four games for the team as a 20-year-old and became the team’s back-up the following season, finishing sixth in voting for the Calder Trophy. Hanlon became the team’s starter for the 1979-80 season and played 57 games, but posted a record of just 17-29-10. The following offseason the Canucks decided it was time to improve their goaltending and traded for Richard Brodeur, relagating Hanlon to back-up. Hanlon played 45 more games for the Canucks over the next two seasons before being traded to the St. Louis Blues and finished his Canucks tenure with a disappointing 43-66-21 record.
8. Frank Caprice
A former ninth round pick by the Canucks, Frank Caprice’s game left a lot to be desired during parts of six NHL seasons in Vancouver. Caprice’s career got off to a decent enough start as he posted an 8-8-2 record with a 3.39 GAA and .882 SV% in 1983-84 after starter Richard Brodeur went down with an injury. The following season he was expected to battle for the number one job and he played in a career high 28 games, but his struggles between the pipes along with a torn hamstring prevented him from usurping Brodeur and Caprice would continue to struggle in the Canucks net for the remainder of his career.
In parts of six seasons in Vancouver, Caprice posted a SV% of just .859 and a record of 31-46-11. After the 1987-88 season, the Canucks let Caprice go and he spent the remainder of his career bouncing around the minor leagues, Italy, and Britain.
7. Garth Snow
The current New York Islanders general manager began his NHL career playing seven games over two seasons for the Quebec Nordiques before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers where he primarily served as the back-up to Ron Hextall across parts of three seasons. At the 1998 trade deadline, Snow was dealt to the Canucks for Sean Burke and became the team’s starter the following season while the Canucks continued to try to improve their goaltending with the Kevin Weekes and Felix Potvin trades. Snow shared the net with the two in the 1999-00 season and then signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent.
Over parts of three seasons in Vancouver, Snow posted a .901 SV% which at that time was only slightly below the league average, but his record was not pretty at 33-52-11.
6. Corey Hirsch
After a record setting junior career, Corey Hirsch played four games with the New York Rangers and then spent the bulk of three seasons in the AHL before he was traded to the Canucks for Nathan Lafayette. In Hirsch’s first season with the Canucks in 1995-96, he split time between the pipes with incumbent starter Kirk McLean and posted a 17-14-6 record with a .903 SV% in 41 games, good enough numbers to finish fifth in voting for the Calder Trophy. However, Hirsch’s play quickly dropped off and he only played 60 more games for the Canucks over the next three seasons, including just one game in the 1997-98 season, before he was waived and spent the next several years bouncing around the minors.
5. Felix Potvin
Felix Potvin burst onto the NHL scene with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1992-93 and helped get the team to within one win of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1967. He provided stellar goaltending for several years, but after the Maple Leafs signed star netminder Curtis Joseph in the summer of 1998, Potvin was traded to the New York Islanders. Potvin played less than a year on Long Island before he was shipped to Vancouver in a trade for Kevin Weekes. Across parts of two seasons with the Canucks, “The Cat” posted a losing record of 26-30-10 with a SV% of just .897 before he was once again traded away, this time to the Los Angeles Kings for future considerations.
4. Ed Dyck
The first goaltender ever drafted by the Canucks, Ed Dyck was taken 30th overall in 1970. Dyck only played 49 games for the Canucks over three seasons, posting an abysmal record of 8-28-5 with a 4.35 GAA. To be fair, any goaltender would’ve struggled with the team in their early years, but the fact that Dyck was never really able to challenge for the starter’s job and never got another taste of NHL action after leaving Vancouver suggests that his play was not up to par. After leaving the Canucks, he played one equally bad season with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA and another in Sweden before hanging up his skates.
3. John Garrett
John Garrett played six seasons in the WHA before joining the NHL along with the Hartford Whalers for the 1979-80 season. After parts of three more seasons in Hartford and two in Quebec, Garrett was traded to the Canucks midway through the 1982-83 season. His most memorable performance during his time in Vancouver came in that year’s All-Star game, a week after he was acquired. Garrett was named as an injury replacement for Canucks starter Richard Brodeur and was voted the game’s MVP, only to have the award taken away by a re-vote after Wayne Gretzky scored four goals in the game’s final ten minutes.
It was all downhill from there for Garrett’s Canucks tenure. He played 56 games across three seasons and finished his final NHL season with a GAA of a whopping 6.49 in ten games to earn himself the nickname “Lotto” after the Canadian Lotto 6/49. Garrett then retired and became the team’s assistant general manager for one season before beginning his broadcasting career.
2. Dunc Wilson
After playing just one NHL game with the Philadelphia Flyers, Dunc Wilson was selected by the Canucks in the 1970 Expansion Draft and was faced with the unenviable task of carrying the bulk of the team’s netminding load through the early years. As is the case with Dyck, Wilson was put into a difficult position and didn’t exactly have much chance for success. After three subpar seasons in Vancouver, Wilson spent the next several years bouncing around between the Maple Leafs, Rangers, and Penguins before returning to finish his career with the Canucks. In 148 games with the team, Wilson was winless in nearly three times as many games as he won, going 34-86-12 with a 3.92 GAA.
1. Dan Cloutier
When it comes to bad Canucks goaltenders, there’s no one that can top the list other than Dan Cloutier. Cloutier’s regular season numbers actually weren’t horrific during parts of five seasons with the Canucks; he posted a 109-68-24 record on a Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi led squad that many viewed as Stanley Cup contenders with a .907 SV% that was close to league average.
However, it was Cloutier’s play in the playoffs that severely hurt his reputation. In 25 postseason starts, Cloutier posted a 10-13 record with an abysmal .872 SV%. His most infamous goaltending blunder came in the opening round of the 2002 playoffs. With the Canucks up 2-0 against the Red Wings in their best of seven series and tied at one in the dying seconds of the second period of game three, Cloutier gave up a goal on a slap shot from centre ice to Nicklas Lidstrom. Many believe that play was the turning point of the series as the Red Wings went on to eliminate the Canucks in six games.
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