Not all is well in the Vancouver Canucks prospect pool. Years of sacrificing futures to try and better the present coupled with a string high-profile graduations have whittled this group down to the point where it’s one of the league’s weaker systems in spite of their lack of NHL level success.
And it’s not like this group has been all that close to finding sustained success either. The Canucks have finished in the bottom 10 of the league standings in five of the last seven seasons and only made the playoffs once in that same span.
We should note that their on-ice fortunes took a pretty substantial turn for the better as Bruce Boudreau took the reins as their head coach partway through the 2021-22 season and that optimism abounds among some about this team’s prospects next season, but that feels like damning by faint praise. They still missed the playoffs.
Yet for all that short- and long-term pain, the collection of prospects they’ve amassed is only good enough to check in as the 28th-best system in this exercise.
Losing players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Vasili Podkolzin and Nils Höglander to graduation was bound to hurt, but it shouldn’t blunt the fact that they’ve failed to produce a secondary wave of talent to push that group over the top.
We can’t place all of the blame at the feet of their amateur scouting department. The Canucks have selected in the first round just once in the last three drafts. Ditto for the second and third rounds over that time span. They have mortgaged everything they can in order to make a run while their core remains reasonably young. It’s a move that will either look extremely smart or exceptionally foolish. Only time will tell.
The one thing that is clear, however, is that this is far from an elite cupboard of prospects. At least there is a potential blue-chipper, but after that, it’s a whole lot of question marks.
A reminder that players need to be Calder-eligible to qualify for this exercise, which is why Jack Rathbone is not included. If he had been, he’d been the No. 2 ranked player and would help boost the overall reflection of the group.