If you watched the Vancouver Canucks during the 90’s, chances are you’re very familiar with the name ‘Ronning’. Cliff Ronning was an integral part of the Canucks’ 1994 Cup-running team, but now, his son is the one making his mark for a Vancouver hockey club. However, it’s not the Canucks, but rather the Giants of the WHL. Ty Ronning is lighting up the WHL right now and the Canucks missed out on him back in 2016.
At the 2016 NHL entry draft, much like his father, Ty Ronning was selected in the seventh round of the draft, by the New York Rangers (ironically) — despite being born and raised in the Greater Vancouver Area, having an ex-Canuck father and even playing junior hockey for the Vancouver-based Giants, the Canucks overlooked the speedy sniper. Instead, they elected to select Rodrigo Abols who is currently chalking up average numbers over in Sweden.
Lots of chatter about the #Canucks picking Abols over Ronning.
Source : "The Canucks talked to Ronning but I don't think they showed much love."
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) March 15, 2018
Ronning’s Giant Season
As I mentioned, Ronning has been killing it this season — in 69 games, he’s found twine an incredible 60 times and helped out on an additional 23. He’s lead his team by example this season, whether that be in goals, points or leadership — with an ‘A’ sewn to his chest, Ronning has helped lead the Giants to their first playoff-berth in four years.
He’s fast, he’s skilled, he’s smart, but, he’s also very undersized at 5-foot-9 and 172-pounds. Much like his dad, he’s well aware of his disadvantage and he knows exactly how to cope with it.
‘As a small player, you need to out-compete people, and I love competing’ – Ronning told the Vancouver Sun.
Cliff Ronning was a bit of fan favorite during his time with the Canucks, largely due to his incredible level of compete, despite his small stature — you earn a lot of respect when you battle through adversity. Ty is in a similar boat and has learned a lot from his old-man, but at some point, the comparisons need to die out.
“I’m OK with being asked about him. I’ve always been OK. I’ve always looked up to my dad. My dad is a superhero to me. I’ve said that in a lot of interviews. But this is my journey now. It’s my goal to be an NHL player. It’s something he was and it’s something that I want to be.” – Ronning said in an interview.
He’s certainly skilled, but Ronning’s mindset and heart are the two strongest facets of his game — so much of this game is mental and revolves around confidence. It’s an NHL-level mental approach and the New York Rangers recognized that under a week ago, when they signed Ronning to an entry-level contract.
Last season, Ronning had a brief 12-game stint with the Rangers’s AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, where he marked up two goals and three assists. Management saw that he could use another year of development down in the WHL, but they also saw his potential, obviously, inking him to that three-year ELC.
Selected just 17 spots ahead of Ronning in that 2016 draft was the aforementioned Rodrigo Albos, who is a player that is largely unknown to Canucks fans. This is probably due to the fact that he bounces around a lot and doesn’t really contribute all that much — in four seasons of hockey, Albos has played in three professional leagues (KHL, SHL, Swe-1) and two junior leagues (WHL, QMJHL).
His point totals haven’t been anything special, most notably (over two seasons), Albos chalked up 20 goals and 50 points in 64 games for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. What the Latvian does have going for him, though, is a sturdy 6-foot-3 and 192-pound frame and also, a lot of support.
‘Latvia is a passionate country,’ Abols told Metro News. ‘I have my girlfriend wake up, my parents, my godfather – everyone was up in the morning and watching me play. When you realize … it’s very special to have that kind of support.’
Aside from his big size, Latvian love and cool name, there isn’t a whole lot to like about Albos’ game. The chances of him playing for the Canucks are as slim as slim gets — his competition is way too fierce and unless he can completely turn his level of play on a dime, he’ll never play in the NHL. That’s just the reality of the situation.
The Canucks definitely buggered this one up, eh? It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense — you’re already that late in the draft, I mean, why not take Ronning? I know what some of you are thinking, though. 60 goals in your last season of WHL eligibility isn’t all that special and the Canucks already have a great prospect in Kole Lind coming out of the WHL, so, who cares about Ronning?
I think that’s a pretty one-dimensional way of looking at a hockey player. I’m looking at Ronning’s rate of growth and he gets better and better every single season. He’s 20-years-old and has the maturity and mindset of a 20-year veteran — you don’t see those qualities every day. A player that Ronning reminds me of is another former Giant and current Montreal Canadiens forward, Brendan Gallagher, who is also undersized but has the heart of lion. Gallagher’s point production was consistent during his time as a Giant, but he never scored more than 44 goals, but hey, look at him now — one of the most valuable, reliable and consistent two-way wingers in the NHL.
Gallagher has been far-and-away the best player on the Canadiens this season and much like Ronning, he was a late draft pick (147 overall). Do you think people ever thought he’d be the best player on an NHL team (I know they’re awful)? Hell no. Do you think that ever stopped him? Hell no. Gallagher is the hardest working player on the ice night in and night out and Ronning is the same for the Giants.
‘I like to bring it on. I like to show people wrong. I feel like I’ve proved some people wrong. There’s always going to be haters. I like the people who support me, but I like the haters, too, because they fuel the fire.’ – Ronning told the Vancouver Sun
I think Ronning has the potential to be another Gallagher for the Rangers and I also think the Canucks missed out on a great player. But, if you think I’m wrong or even if you agree with me, feel free to let me know down in the comments section below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.