by Ron Spence
The Vancouver Canucks have rolled the dice at 38 amateur drafts and have selected almost a goalie per year.
How many of their goalie picks have donned a Canucks’ jersey?
Ten – of the fifty-one goalies who have worn a Canucks’ NHL jersey – and some of those were for only a game or two each (I haven’t included Steve McKichan among the ten. He was drafted out of Miami University at the 1988 NHL Supplemental Draft, and played one period – allowing 2 goals on 8 shots.).
Vancouver’s best goalie draft – to date – has been Glen Hanlon, who played in 137 games from 1978-82 (He was later traded to, and starred for the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.).
The goalie who the Canucks are hoping will surpass Hanlon – in the Vancouver net – is Cory Schneider, an AHL all-star.
The Canucks also drafted some decent backup goalies in Frank Caprice, Troy Gamble and Mike Fountain, etc.
While Vancouver’s amateur scouts have been rather poor at drafting goalies, their professional scouts have been successful at finding some good deals.
Five goalies stand out above the rest – and played in 30 of Vancouver’s 39 seasons.
The ‘nucks were very lucky because the New Jersey Devils were knee deep in goalies – in 1987 – and needed some goal scoring so they offered prospect Kirk McLean to the Canucks. They threw in Greg Adams, traded 2nd round picks and took Patrik Sundstrom and a 4th round selection (The Devils’ goalies were: Alain Chevrier, Craig Billington, Chris Terreri, Bob Sauve, and promising newcomer Sean Burke.).
Kirk would establish many Canucks’ goalie records, and Gus Adams would become a valuable forward – particularly during the run for the Cup in 1994.
Ironically, Sean Burke would come to the Canucks when Kirk McLean was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 1998.
Vancouver had been equally fortunate 7 years before the McLean trade, when the New York Islanders were also deep in the net – they had both Billy Smith and Chico Resch between the pipes. The Islanders would have lost Brodeur on waivers and traded him to the Canucks for a swap of 5th round picks.
Richard Brodeur arrived in Vancouver in 1981, and the following year the Islanders faced King Richard in the Stanley Cup finals.
VANCOUVER’S 50 + 1 GOALIES FROM 1970 UNTIL 2009
(Canucks’ draft picks in yellow – stats from
The Schneider stats weren’t included until after this blog was written:
While it behooves many ‘nucks fans to admit it, Dan Cloutier was a hot young prospect when he was with the Rangers, and later the Bolts.
Vancouver was able to acquire him in 2001 because Kevin Weekes – Vancouver’s former “goalie of the future” – was facing most of the rubber and Tampa Bay was getting ready to make an offer for Nikolai Khabibulin – a month later.
The Canucks had traded Weekes – and other players – to the Islanders to acquire Felix Potvin – who was a bust and – Vancouver traded Adrian Aucoin and a 2nd round pick, to get Cloutier.
Cloutier appeared to be Vancouver’s new Richard Brodeur and Kirk McLean – but then lost his confidence [L.A. still owes Vancouver a 3rd round pick in this summer’s draft – for Cloutier.].
One goalie who never had confidence problems was Gary “Suitcase” Smith. He played for Toronto, Oakland, and Chicago and was acquired by the Canucks, along with Jerry Korab, for Dale Tallon – now Chicago’s GM.
This was at the end of the 1973 season and Chicago had decided that Tony Esposito didn’t need to share the net, and Tony O went from 56 to 70 games in 1973-74 (They also had Mike Veisor who played in 10 games.).
Chicago reasoned that they needed an upgrade on their D, and didn’t want two unhappy netminders vying for ice time.
Roberto Luongo was unhappy in Florida – although not over ice time – and Mike Keenan had to make a trade. Also, Vancouver needed to rid their dressing room of a troubled Todd Bertuzzi who was still reeling after his attack on Steve Moore.
Many would argue that the Roberto acquisition is the best trade in the Canucks’ four decades of history (with the Markus Naslund swap a close second).
And should Captain Roberto lead the ‘nucks to the Cup, Vancouver fans might just forget the team’s poor goalie drafting.