During the summer I wrote who I believe are the top ten Canuck prospects. Cody Hodgson is cleary the prized gem of the Canucks system, but also contains Schnieder, Scheoder, and Shirokov. Mike Gillis and the Canucks scouting staff have done an excellent job with drafting young talent, now it is developing there kids and getting the most out of there prospects.
1. Cody Hodgson C (10th in 08)
Cody is no doubt the Canucks best prospect and is one of the elite prospects around the NHL. Hodgson missed most of last year with a back injury and has Canuck fans wondering, but has an excellent shot at making the Nuckleheads this fall. He is one of many small but high end talent prospects in the Canucks system. In juniors Cody has shown great leadership, smooth hands, good on special teams, and is smart in all three zones. Potential first liner.
2. Cory Schnieder G (26th in 05)
Cory has been waiting for the opportunity to play with the Canucks and heading into training camp Schnieder has an excellent shot at the #2 job. Cory has played with the Moose for past couple of years and has been a headache for many shooters. Cory Schnieder will no doubt start in the NHL but the question is, will it be with the Canucks?
3 Jordan Schroeder C (22nd in 09)
Schroeder is the most skilled Canuck prospect. While Jordan is only 5’9/180, he makes up for it with his smarts, enthusiasm, and quick feet. Watching him play a few games this year with the Moose was a thrill. He was great offensively and showed a lot of positives on the ice. I don’t think Jordan will be able to crack the lineup this year with the strong forward depth, but you might see this kid making a big impact with the Canucks a few years down the road.
4. Anton Rodin RW (53rd in 08)
Mike Gillis said the Canucks stole Rodin in the draft 3 years ago., and couldn’t believe that he wasn’t picked in the first round. Canuck fans were happy to hear this but had no clue how he was, well they found out at this year’s WJC. Playing for team Sweden at the WJC, Rodin racked up the points 10 points in 6 games, including 2 game winners. Rodin has a strong shot, good stick handling, not afraid to use the body, and awesome hockey sence. Anton is small at 5’11 and could add some more muscle before he makes the NHL. Will likely fit in on the 2nd or 3rd line in the NHL in the future.
5.Sergei Shirokov LW (136th in 06)
Last year Sergei had an amazing training camp and made the Canucks roster straight out of training camp, getting the fans eager to see how there Russian prospect would do. Well Shirkov had a rough start and ended up playing with the Moose. Sergei had a pretty good rookie pro year with the Moose, posting 22 goals, 23 assists, and 45 points in 76 games. Shirokov has great vision and finishing capability, which potentially could be a solid NHL scorer. With Grabner gone (trade this offseason with Florida), it opens up for this Russian sniper to squeeze into a NHL spot this year or next year.
6. Kevin Connauton D (83rd in 09)
This year Kevin made the jump from University hockey, to the WHL. He played for the Giants and impressed Canuck fans with 24 goals and 72 points in just 69 games. Connauton is an offensive defenseman, that can move the puck. His strong point is controlling the power play and let go of his cannon. Kevin is the Canucks best prospect on defence, which improves his odds of stepping in one day. Expect Connauton to make the NHL jump in two or three years.
7. Evan Oberg D (Signed in 09)
Oberg had a strong season last year and rose on my list of top prospects as the year went on. Oberg fit into the Manitoba Moose’s lineup and played some good hockey. Evan is a offensive defenseman, who has great offensive instincts. Oberg struggles shutting down bigger forwards and can get pushed around in physical games. Evan has a good shot at making the team next year, as the Canucks have 8 NHL defenseman on there roster heading into training camp.
8. Yann Sauve D (41st in 08)
Yann played in the QMJHL this year with the Saint John Sea Dogs, and had a stellar +42 (yes you read that right, 42!). Sauve is a big, mean defenseman that you would want to keep your head up going into the corner with him. At 6’3, 209, he is built to be a solid defensive defenseman in the NHL. Yann will most likely step into the NHL in two to three years from now into a depth defence role. If all goes well for Sauve he could find himself on the 2nd or 3rd defence pairing.
9. Patrick McNally D (115th in 10)
Patrick was the Canucks first pick in this year’s draft. McNally played for the Milton Academy in Massachusetts this year. He recorded 35 points in 28 games and was named to the All New England First Team. Patrick has already committed to Harvard University in 2011. McNally is a bright kid who possesses the skill that Canuck GM Mike Gillis couldn’t pass up on. Don’t expect this offensive blueliner to step into a Canuck uniform for another 4-5 years.
10. Taylor Ellington D (33rd in 07)
Taylor played his first full pro season last year. He split time between Manitoba and Victoria. The rookie struggled posting -3 in 16 games with Manitoba and -13 with Victoria. Taylor is a steady, reliable defenseman, who doesn’t shy away from physical play. He projects to be a 2nd or 3rd defensive line pairing in the NHL, playing the role of a defensive defenseman. Ellington will spend a few more years in the minors before he is ready for NHL action.