Canucks 1st Round Pick History.

15 years of first round draft picks.

[Updated] Thanks for all the comments wrt this post. Especially to Kyle, you are absolutely right, and I stand corrected; Hudler and Franzen are not 1st rounders, and in 1999, Henrik is also a first round pick. I made some mistakes there, as I wrote my post based on another website’s data, the way they arranged it was misleading.

But anyways, to clear up my point, I am only trying to respond to some people’s comments about the Canucks always having a poor draft record, and by trading away many of our picks, our reserves are depleted. I was trying to suggests that even the Red Wings does not have a very good draft record, as they made a lot of first round faults as well. I am suggesting for teams to be continually successful, the key may not simply be in their drafting, but the developing of the players.

The fact that both Franzen (3rd) and Hudler (2nd) aren’t first-rounder only further proves that you don’t always need to have great 1st round picks, but if you can develop your players well, even your late rounders can turn into gems. This coincides with Kyle’s point about Bieska (5th rounder), Hansen (9th rounder) and Edler (3rd rounder).

Another point is that the reason why I chose to talk only about 1st rounder is for the sake of simplicity. The effect of trading away your picks for rental or veteran players is most apparent for the first round. The influence of development is less for 1st-rounders than for late-rounders because the players are supposedly much better or more developed. ie. Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin turned out to be superstars despite little efforts in terms of organization development from the Hawks or the Caps. Of course, this is only relative, players like Grabner or White definitely need their time building their size and skills. However for late rounders, the chance of their success will rely heavily on how the organization planned their development in terms of exposure, ice-time and training.

Last but not least, I don’t think Gillis is doing a poor job so far, he’s still in his first year as a GM, and fans don’t get to see a lot of things he does in the background especially on player developments. In fact from what he did yesterday by picking up 24-year old Eric Walsky of Colorado College, I think he is doing a great job so far.

Just that when us fans complain about our draft history, we always forget the most important element behind it, the development of the player after he’s drafted.


People have been saying that the Canucks draft terribly, and due to the many picks traded away during the Burke and Nonis era, our club is left depleted of good prospects. A quick look at TSN’s recent article of the club’s Top 12 Prospects may have proved just that. And we’ve all heard how this has always been a trend throughout the Canucks’ history, so I thought a summary of the 1st round picks for the past 15 years may shine some light on this topic.





Junior Club




Mattias Ohlund


Pitea (Sweden)





Traded for Mogilny



Josh Holden


Regina Pats (WHL)




Brad Ference


Spokane Chiefs (WHL)




Bryan Allen


Oshawa Generals (OHL)






Modo (SEL)




Nathan Smith


SC Broncos (WHL)




R.J. Umberger


Ohio State U (NCAA)





Traded for Linden



Ryan Kesler


Ohio State U (NCAA)




Corey Schneider


Phillips Andover (Mass)




Luc Bourdon


Val-d’Or Foreurs [QMJHL]




Michael Grabner


Spokane Chiefs (WHL)




Patrick White


Tri-City Storm (USHL)




Cody Hodgson


Brampton Battalion (OHL)


Of the 15 years of first round picks, starting with Mattias Ohlund, only 3 remain active with the Canucks (Ohlund, Sedin & Kesler), and another 4 remain within our system (Schneider, Grabner, White & Hodgson). That’s less the 50% rate of making it into our organization. Is it bad??? If you compare with the team known for drafting and developing the best players, the Detroit Red Wings, it doesn’t look so bad. The Wings in fact only have [edited] 1 first rounder in their current line-up (Niklas Kronwall) out of their last 15 1st-rounders. Of course, 1st round draft picks can often turned out to be bust, every team faces the same problem. It is equally often that teams somehow are able to pick out superstar-players in late rounds, like Datsyuk (6th round, 171 overall) or Zetterberg (7th round, 210 overall). The Canucks hottest player right now wasn’t even drafted.

But I think the reason why good teams have higher successful rates for their draft picks becoming steady NHL-ers, isn’t that they draft better, but because they develop better. Without a good development program, there’s no way a 6th rounder and a 7th rounder can mature into one of the most premier centerman and left winger of the league.

Take a look at Canucks history and we see some interesting facts. Just looking at first rounder alone, we’ve only given away 2 of our 1st rounder, whereas the Red Wings gave up 7 first rounders during the same 15 years. Three of them are now retired from the NHL (Holden, Ference and Smith). Umberger was the victim of Burke’s hard-ball negotiation skills, and he never came to terms with the club. His rights were traded to the Rangers for a rental in Martin Rucinsky. We lost Bourdon to a motorcycle accident (RIP ~ Luc). As for Patty White, his career might have been very different if he was drafted and developed by another club. Rather than allowing him to stay with the Golden Gophers in Minnesota, if the Canucks or the Moose were able to put him in their line-up and provide enough ice-time and training, he might have been a very different player. But, White is still very young, he is only 20 years of age, and there’s still a good chance for him to mature into a good NHL-er.

So, if you ask me whether the Canucks draft terribly, I can name many examples of other clubs doing worse, how about Patrik Stefan (1999 1st overall by Atlanta)? Alexandre Daigle (1993 1st overall by Ottawa)?? Ric Jackman (1996 5th overall)?? Steve Kelly (1995 5th overall)?? The list goes on. If you want to talk about a club given the most number of top picks with the worst results year after year, the Thrashers are definitely the winner there. But again, it all comes back to not just drafting the right player, but providing the proper development for the player. It’s no surprise that teams like Detroit are stacked with good prospects down their pipeline even with 12 consecutive play-off apperances, whereas the Atlanta Thrashers seem to always be in the rebuilding mode.

With GM Mike Gillis, coming from his background as a player-agent, he should not just focus on drafts, trades and free agent signings, instead he should definitely look into improving the Canucks’ development program.

3 thoughts on “Canucks 1st Round Pick History.

  1. If the Author of this Article was even paying attention at all last year Mg was working on player developement . He fired at least two scouts ,Moved Smyl to another capacity of the team and hired Dave Gagner for player developement.

  2. I think a better indication of whether or not a team drafts well is to look at the entire draft, and not just the first round. Granted, the best players almost always come out of the first round, but you don’t win with just those top guys. Detroit obviously wins by having the strongest team, and not just the best top line (like Ottawa).

    Instead, think about the Canucks line up right now. The Sedins, Kesler, Raymond, Ohlund, Bieksa, and Edler all came up through the draft and the minors. That’s not bad. Add in Burrows, and team development is probably average or a bit higher over the past few seasons.

    Just remember, the Canucks have gotten some steals in the past. Bure, the Sedins (look at the rest of that draft if you don’t believe me), Edler, and it’s looking more and more like Hodgson was a steal as well. Still, no harm in trying to get better.

  3. As Stuart said above, Gillis has already poured lots of money into scouting and player development, so good idea, but it’s already been done.

    And frankly, I’d advise doing a bit of research before you talk about draft picks. Hudler and Franzen were not 1st rounders (2nd and 3rd, respectively). Both Sedins were drafted in the 1st round in 1999, not just one, and therefore, both count as first rounders. And you want to talk about late round picks? Canucks picked Bieksa (5th), Hansen (9th) and Edler (3rd) in later rounds. If Shirokov (6th) ever decides to come to the NHL (not likely), then there’s another one, because he’s playing very well in the KHL. When it comes to drafting, you have to look at all rounds, not just the first, otherwise Detroit looks like a terrible drafting team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s