The Draft Matters
With the 2012 NHL Entry draft going down this week on June 22-23 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, we thought we’d go back and take a look at some recent Vancouver Canucks draft picks since 2009 to predict who will crack the team’s lineup, and help the squad in its ever growing quest to win a Stanley Cup.
We give you 5 such players – The Young Canuck Prospects for 2012
1. Jordan Schroeder – Center – Age 21
2011-2012 Season – AHL – Chicago Wolves – 76 Games Played – 21 Goals – 23 Assists – 44 Points
Drafted in the First Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft with the 22nd Pick
Analysis: The 2009 WCHA Rookie of the Year has impressed with his offensive prowess and speed, and has been working on his size and strength since being drafted.
Considered relatively undersized at 5’8”, he will need some extra offseason muscle to take the punishment that will be dished out playing with the big boys. In a best case scenario, he can pitch in with some timely goals for the Canucks in a limited role.
Think in the mold of the much maligned Mason Raymond (when he was on his game), who may or may not be with the team this coming season.
GM Mike Gillis has stated that Schroeder could be a nice surprise for the Canucks this year.
2. Kevin Connauton – Defense – Age 22
2011-2012 Season – AHL – Chicago Wolves – 73 Games Played – 13 Goals – 20 Assists – 33 Points
Drafted in the Third Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft with the 83rd Pick
Analysis: A 2012 All-Star in the AHL, Connauton has shown off his skill as an offensive-Defenseman. The Canucks could certainly use him in the bottom six on the back-end, as he fits the mold of a Canucks D-Man, a quick skating stick handler who can put the puck in the net from the point.
Reports are that his defensive game has improved, and he could be a valuable player on the roster.
3. Eddie Lack – Goalie – Age 24
2011-2012 Season – AHL – Chicago Wolves – 2.31 GAA – .925 SV% – 4 Shutouts
Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Analysis – Ok, while not technically drafted, we had to include him on this list because of the impact he will no doubt make. The man they call the “Stork”, due to his long 6’4” frame, is poised to make the teams that didn’t draft him in 2009 sorry.
That job would presumably be filled by Lack, who we’ve been hearing is ready for the big time for the past year or so.
In fact, the Canucks have already sent a qualifying offer to Lack, indicating he is a big part of their plans for the 2012-2013 season, and beyond.
Have you checked out our Eddie Lack Twitterview yet?
4. Nicklas Jensen – Winger – Age 19
2011-2012 Season – OHL/AHL – Oshawa Generals/Chicago Wolves – 63 Games Played – 29 Goals – 33 Assists – 62 Points
Drafted in the First Round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft with the 29th Pick
Analysis – While it is always difficult for young prospects to crack an NHL roster after only one year removed of being selected, and at so young an age, Jensen’s upside may be too difficult to ignore.
62 Points in only 63 games last year indicate just how talented the young Dane is.
He has certainly turned heads with his enormous offensive skill, and he definitely has a high-ceiling. Today it was reported that if Jensen does not play for the Canucks this season, he would leave town to play in Sweden.
It’s difficult to say if this pressure play will work, but I’m sure some fans could envision him taking Mason Raymond’s role next year, couldn’t they?
5. Anton Rodin – Winger – Age 21
2011-2012 Season – AHL – Chicago Wolves – 62 Games Played – 10 Goals – 17 Assists – 27 Points
Drafted in the Second Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft with the 53rd Pick
Analysis – Though the Canucks would like to develop Rodin’s already superb skills, such as his puck handling, skating, and shot, to feature him as an offensive force in the coming years, he could see some time this year on the checking-line, as he has the hockey sense and fundamentals necessary for that type of role.
Coach Alain Vigneault has been known to bring up young prospects to plug into the third and/or fourth line as the season wears on.
His success will depend on his camp.
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