Thoughts of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins have arose as size and offense were the two key factors that each of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2012 draftees shared in common. Whether or not the events of last June are what drove Canucks’ management to pick these players, they all have some uncanny similarities and were chosen with purpose.
After the first few hours of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, in which every time Gary Bettman stood at the podium to announce a trade he was unknowingly cuing Roberto Luongo fans to get nervous, the Canucks’ selected Brendan Gaunce 26th overall. If Gaunce continues to live up to the fact that he was ranked 13th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he could prove to be a real steal. This natural leader has had lots of experience, winning a bronze medal with Canada’s U-18 team as well as a gold medal with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. At 18 years old, Gaunce served as an assistant captain for his junior team, the Belleville Bulls of the OHL.
Gaunce is a two-way centre known for his physical play as well as his offensive abilities. He scored 28 goals and recorded 68 points this past season as well as 68 penalty minutes. His character and maturity rounds out the deal, making him difficult to dislike.
As for the second round, the Canucks took another forward, overage prospect Alexandre Mallet. At 20 years old, Mallet has often been compared to Alex Burrows while playing with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.
“One of the reasons we like him is that he’s a big physical center who is going through a rapid development path at this point,” Canucks’ assistant general manager Laurence Gilman told the Vancouver Sun. Mallet can also score goals, having jumped up 60 points this season compared to his previous point total in the 2010-11 season. Even with 81 points in 68 games, Mallet has remained modest and humble, not expecting himself to be picked until the fifth or sixth round.
The Canucks had no picks in the third or fourth rounds. Their 26th pick in round three was sent to Anaheim on February 28, 2011, in the trade to gain Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp. Then the Canucks traded both their picks in the fourth round on February 27, 2012, in a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets to get Sammy Pahlsson. One of these picks the Canucks originally received from the New York Islanders in the Christian Ehrhoff trade in 2011.
In the fifth round, despite picking a defenceman, the Canucks did not shy away from size and offense. 6-foot-2 Ben Hutton is an offensive defenceman, who describes himself as someone who likes to use his body when he has to, but is more identifiable as a puck-moving defenceman. Hutton did not even watch the 2012 draft. He had been passed over in the 2011 NHL Draft and wanted to prevent getting his hopes up this time around. However, the Canucks selected him 147th overall. Hutton played with the Kemptville 73’s and the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canadian Hockey League this past season and is committed to playing with the University of Maine in the fall.
The last two players the Canucks selected are also committed to playing with universities this fall. Wesley Myron, a Victoria native, is the first player from British Columbia to be picked by the Canucks in four years, and was picked 177th overall. He played with his hometown BCHL Victoria Grizzlies, and much like Ontario native Cody Ceci, who was picked by the Ottawa Senators 15th overall, will have a chance to play with his own province’s NHL team. Mryon, a power forward, will be playing with Boston University in the fall. The U.S. Hockey Report describes him as being “a tall lanky kid with the frame of an NHL-type center, a strong skater who has shown a lot of finish in the BCHL.”
Lastly, the Canucks selected Matthew Beattie 207th overall. The lone American out of all of the Canucks’ draft picks, Beattie spent last season playing for Philips-Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Named team MVP, Beattie had 39 goals and 74 points in 28 games. He is noted to have a tireless work ethic and will be playing for Yale University in the fall.
The Canucks selected all North American players (the first time they have done this since 2000) and remained offensive-minded, choosing four forwards and one defenceman.The club seems to have faith in their goaltending for the future, whether it is Luongo, Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack or Joe Cannata in net. Many of the players chosen this year are centers, or are capable of playing center. With the loss of Cody Hodgson and Sammy Pahlsson, the Canucks will be in need of a center sometime soon. They are paving a way for the future with players who are able to score goals as well as stand up for themselves physically, factors that constantly come back to haunt the players, staff and fans of the Vancouver Canucks with heartbreaking memories of coming up too short in the moments that matter.