Let’s face it: the Vancouver Canucks’ prospect cupboard is getting pretty bare these days.
Sure, the team has junior phenom and 2008 first-round pick Cody Hodgson to look forward to, and 2004 first-rounder Cory Schneider appears to have a decent chance to be an above-average NHL goalie (although whether he ever plays for the Canucks is certainly debatable). Glass-half-full types (including yours truly) have high hopes that Michael Grabner, their 2006 first-round pick, will get a chance to showcase his offensive skills at the NHL level.
|Photo courtesy of Dustin Hall – Flickr.com||Photo courtesy of Canorcas – Wikimedia Commons|
But that’s about it. And while their AHL farm club Manitoba Moose were Calder Cup runners-up this year, the top Moose performers were (aside from Schneider and Grabner) veteran minor-leaguers like Jason Krog and Jason Jaffray — certainly not prospects by any stretch of the imagination.
And at this point, the less said about Pat White, the better.
The Canucks have the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft on Saturday, a draft position which is unlikely to produce a superstar. In fact, the 22nd pick has been pretty snakebit over the past 20 years, producing Simon Gagne in 1998 (Flyers), Adam Foote in 1989 (Nordiques), and a slew of journeymen and little-knowns (although Jordan Eberle, selected by the Oilers last year, looks promising).
But hope springs eternal! Thus, here are several potential Canuck selections that might be available at pick #22:
Charles-Olivier Roussel, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL): The 22nd-ranked player in THW’s own Christopher Ralph’s excellent Draft Preview, Roussel looks to be a very good two-way defenseman. That, coupled with his decent size (6’1″, 200 lbs. and still growing) and cannon shot, makes Roussel a potential replacement for Sami Salo in two to three years.
Stefan Elliot, D, Saskatoon (WHL): Another two-way defenseman, Elliot reminds some of Mike Green or Tomas Kaberle. His ability to move the puck and quarterback the power play, as well as his smarts (he was named WHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year), would serve the Canucks well. The fact that he is a hometown boy (born in North Vancouver) is a bonus. He is ranked somewhat lower (#37 on the THW Draft Preview), so he might be the target of a trade down by Mike Gillis.
Tim Erixon, D, Skelleftea (Sweden): Yet another two-way D-man, Erixon may, like Elliot, be capable of filling the Canucks’ need for a puck-rushing defenseman. Scouts like the maturity and steadiness of Erixon, who is looking to follow in his father Jan’s footsteps.
Calvin de Haan, D, Oshawa (OHL): Yes, folks, another defenseman, but one who’s more offensive minded than the others that have been previously mentioned. The Canucks have not had a purely offensive defenseman in a long time — Jyrki Lumme, maybe, or Paul Reinhart? — so de Haan could be the missing piece to the puzzle in a couple of years.
Landon Ferraro, C, Red Deer (WHL): What? A non-defenseman? Ferraro, son of fomer NHLer Ray Ferraro, is certainly an intriguing possibility for Canuck fans. First, he’s from Vancouver (well, Burnaby, but close enough), and the team hasn’t had a real hometown hero since Cliff Ronning. Second, he is a terrific skater and seems to have a knack for goal scoring. The knocks against him: he’s small (5’11″, 165 lbs.) and questionable defensively (worst plus/minus on his team).