As we approach draft day (we know you can’t wait), we continue with more of our series highlighting the highs and lows of Canuck draft history.
Boon - In the shadow of the Hawks’ Cup win and the impressive post season performance of one of their depth defenseman, we present Brent Sopel. “Soaps” (have we mentioned our disgust for 21st century nick-names yet?) was a 6th round draft pick of the Nucks in 1995. He has carved out a very nice career for himself since then. With his greasy hair and crazed look, he’s an easy guy to mock. And if you’ve ever heard him being interviewed post-game, you’d know that the sudafed hasn’t worn off yet. But Sopel has always played the game with determination and intensity. While in Vancouver, he was relied upon offensively, but in Chicago he has transformed himself into a quality stay-at-home d-man. And clearly, he’s a playoff performer - not just this year, but pretty much every post season he’s played he’s logged more ice time per game than the regular season. It’s interesting to note that after Sopel’s second stint in Vancouver, it was presumed that he was too expensive to keep in the salary cap era. It bears noting that his salary cap hit this season of $2.33 million would have placed him 6th in pay amongst Canuck defenders with the top 5 all having a cap hit of over $3.1 million each.
Boondoggle - It’s pretty much typical for a team to unearth one or two quality NHL’ers in each draft - guys that will wind up playing 500 games or more. Even the Canucks have been able to achieve this modest level of draft success. However, the Canucks’ entire 2002 draft was a failure of epic proportions. Now granted, they had no first round pick that year (traded away to reacquire Trevor Linden), they did have two 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks. In total, 11 players were drafted by the Canucks that season and they have played a combined total of 11 NHL games (10 by Brett Skinner?!?). To put things in perspective, there were 45 players selected that season who have played at least two complete NHL seasons by now. Players the Canucks could have had include Duncan Keith (yes, that guy - the best defenseman in the game right now), Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann, Matthew Lombardi, Valtteri Filppula, Dennis Wideman, Maxime Talbot, Petr Prucha, James Wisniewski and one more Cup winning Hawk, the annoying Adam Burish. Ugh.