Ten years ago, the Vancouver Canucks drafted what some consider the worst class in franchise history. The 2011 NHL Entry Draft saw the team make eight selections, resulting in a total of 74 regular season games played with the franchise. Here is who the Canucks drafted, how their careers ended up and who they could have drafted instead.
Nicklas Jensen- 29th Overall
With the 29th overall selection, the Canucks drafted Nicklas Jensen from the Oshawa Generals. The speedy winger was lighting up the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and international tournaments for Denmark, and was projected to be a top-six forward that could make an impact right away.
Unfortunately, Jensen was unable to make a difference in the NHL. He played 31 games with the Canucks and New York Rangers over four seasons before heading back to Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). There was some success in the American Hockey League (AHL), as he managed 149 points in 277 games, but he never blossomed into the player Vancouver thought he would.
Players Selected After Jensen:
- Rickard Rakell — 30th overall
- Brandon Sadd — 43rd overall
David Honzik- 71st Overall
With the first of two third-round selections, the Canucks took goaltender David Honzik from the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The Czech goalkeeper was a raw talent Vancouver believed they could mold into a future starter, and he had good size and even made the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects Game.
Honzik never developed into an NHL goaltender, and spent most of his career bouncing around the different Czech leagues. He never played a game in the AHL or NHL. His best season was 2015-16, where he helped HC Dukla Jihlava win the Czech2 league championship.
Players Selected After Honzik
- Blake Coleman — 75th Overall
- Josh Leivo — 86th Overall
Alexandre Grenier- 90th Overall
The Canucks were looking for a big, physical winger with a rocket of a shot. That leads them to Québec Remparts forward Alexandre Grenier. He wasn’t afraid to crash the net or throw big hits, and he was precisely the type of player Vancouver needed.
Fast forward a decade, and the two-time AHL all-star is now playing over in Switzerland. He only played nine games for the Canucks, but played 417 games in the AHL with multiple teams. He is still producing over in Europe, but his days playing in North America look to be over.
Players Selected After Grenier
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau — 96th Overall
- Mike Reilly — 98th Overall
Joseph Labate- 101st Overall
When the Canucks took Joseph Labate, he was still in high school and was committed to the University of Wisconsin. He eventually made the jump to the AHL, and eventually the NHL. Another winger with size, he was exactly the player type Vancouver wanted.
Labate is still in the AHL, but his time with the Canucks organization seems to have ended. He played 13 games with Vancouver, but has been a mainstay in the AHL since. Currently, he is stuck on 99 points in the AHL and should pass the century mark this season.
Players Selected After Labate
- Johnny Gaudreau — 104th Overall
- Tobias Rieder — 114th Overall
Ludwig Blomstrand- 120th Overall
Ludwig Blomstrand’s success in the Swedish Junior League impressed the Canucks scouting department. He was a good two-way forward that could win puck battles along the boards, and he also possessed good speed for a player his size.
After three-and-a-half seasons bouncing between the AHL and ECHL, Blomstrand went back to Sweden to play in the second division. This season, he moved over to the Czech leagues to play for HC Plzen. Another miss during the draft.
Players Selecred After Blomstrand
- Sean Kuraly — 133rd Overall
- Andrew Shaw — 139th Overall
Frank Corrado- 150th Overall
Frank Corrado was a defenceman for the Sudbury Wolves who could move the puck well. He had good strength and was able to muscle others off the puck. He was also not scared to block shots and lay his body on the line.
Although the team saw potential in Corrado, he could not find a spot in the lineup and was claimed on waivers by the Maple Leafs in 2015. Most of his time was spent in the AHL with brief stints in the NHL. Currently, he is playing in the KHL with Dinamo Riga.
Players Selected After Corrado
- Josh Manson — 160th Overall
- Dylan DeMelo — 179th Overall
Pathrik Westerholm- 180th Overall
The Canucks went back to Sweden in the sixth round and selected Pathrik Westerholm. He had a decent year and was even part of Sweden’s U-18 team. A fun fact about Westerholm is he has a twin. Unfortunately, he was never drafted into the NHL.
It is hard to hit on sixth-round picks, and the Canucks were unable to in 2011. Westerholm stayed in Sweden almost his entire career. He did jump over to Finland for one season but returned home and is now playing with his brother Ponthus for Malmö.
Players Selected After Westerholm
- Ryan Dzingel — 204th Overall
- Ondřej Palát — 208th Overall
Henrik Tömmernes- 210th Overall
With the second to last selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Canucks selected defenceman Henrik Tömmernes. He was a project that had the potential to be an everyday NHLer. There was a great shot, decent size and strong puck handling skills. He was definitely worth a gamble.
Unfortunately, Tömmernes never made it to the NHL and is currently one of the top defencemen in the Swiss league. Last year, he was named captain of Team Sweden for the World Championships. Although his career never blossomed in North America, he has had a successful career in Europe.
The Worst Class In Canucks History
Some may point to the 2002 or the 2007 classes as the worst in Canucks history, but 2011 was more painful. This may also have to do with Vancouver losing the Stanley Cup just a few weeks prior. It was a questionable draft class back then, and ten years later still haunts Canuck fan’s dreams. This draft will go down as the worst in franchise history.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.