NHL all-time teams: Vancouver Canucks
With a host of good candidates, the Vancouver Canucks all-time team is star-studded at forward.
Ah, hockey in the summer, where things come to a grinding halt for about two months in between one long season and another. To fill the void we at Eye on Hockey thought it would be fun to make an all-time team for each of the 30 organizations in the NHL today.
The ground rules: The teams will consist of a center, two wings (regardless of which side), two defensemen and a goaltender. A player must have spent at least 200 games with a franchise to be considered. So Bobby Orr won't be on the Blackhawks' roster or Wayne Gretzky for St. Louis.
With a history dating back to 1970-71, the Vancouver Canucks have had many terrific players come through. In fact, one might almost venture to say the Canucks have had more star players than jersey designs, and that's really something.
Vancouver has been particularly stacked at forward. From the early 1990s to today, the Canucks have boasted some of the game's best goal scorers and playmakers up front. Despite all that talent and three trips to the Stanley Cup Final, most recently in 2011, the trophy itself has eluded the franchise.
This was one of the toughest lists I've had to put together with so many solid options among the forwards and some really difficult calls on defense. There were only two picks that seemed obvious to me.
Before we get started however, shout out to former Canucks goalie Richard Brodeur, who used to protect his head with that flimsy Jofa helmet and wire mask. Also, for modeling the horrid V jerseys of the 1970s, which will make a return later in this post (Photo via makefive.com)
Henrik Sedin: This was probably the easiest call of any selection. Sedin is the Canucks' all-time leader with 792 points, including a franchise-best 610 assists. Vancouver's current captain has become one of the league's best playmakers while playing alongside twin brother Daniel, who was barely edged out for inclusion at wing.
The Sedins came to the Canucks via the 1999 NHL Entry Draft after then-Vancouver GM Brian Burke engineered one of the great heists in NHL history, via trades involving three other teams, which is recapped well here. Henrik went third overall in the draft, one spot after brother Daniel.
After a few years of adjusting to the NHL game, Henrik really hit his stride in 2005-06, when he posted 75 points. And he just kept getting better. In 2009-10, Henrik had his best professional season, posting 83 assists and a league-best 112 points, earning him the Art Ross Trophy. He also was awarded the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.
At 32, both Henrik and Daniel are still going strong, with the former registering nearly a point per game last season. Something that has been a bit understated about Henrik Sedin is the fact that he has only missed a total of 10 games over his 12-year career. That's some pretty impressive durability.
When all is said and done, both Sedins will likely have their numbers retired and Henrik in particular is likely to earn a call to the Hockey Hall of Fame eventually.
The duo was also part of one of the great hockey promos of all time.
Markus Naslund: Choosing wings for this all-time team was incredibly tough, with all three current retired numbers belonging to wings -- Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Naslund. In the end, Naslund's status as the Canucks' all-time leading goal scorer gave him top honors.
The season after coming to the Canucks in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Alex Stojanov (wait, who?), Naslund scored 21 goals. After a down year the following season, he really kicked it up, scoring 36 in 1998-99. He would go on to post three seasons of 40-plus goals and top 30 twice more, establishing himself as one of the best scorers in Canucks history.
Naslund ranks third in franchise history with 756 points after being passed up by Daniel Sedin just last season. He won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's MVP as voted by his peers in 2002-03 and was named a First-Team All-Star three times while in Vancouver.
Pavel Bure: Though Daniel Sedin and Trevor Linden have more goals and points, no player in Canucks history scored at a higher clip than Bure, who averaged 1.12 points per game while in Vancouver. In the mid-1990s, there may have been no player more electrifying than the man dubbed the "Russian Rocket." I mean, LOOK AT THIS.
From the second he stepped onto NHL ice, Bure was a difference-maker. He posted 34 goals and 60 points in 1991-92 to earn the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie. He followed up his debut with back-to-back 60-goal seasons, leading the league in that category in 1993-94. He also led the team with 16 goals in its run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, where the Canucks ultimately fell to the New York Rangers.
Injuries took Bure out of much of the next two seasons, but he ended his Canucks career with a 51-goal, 90-point campaign in 1998. His tenure in Vancouver was rather acrimonious throughout with contract disputes and Bure's demands to be traded.
The hatchet apparently has been buried, as Bure will have his No. 10 retired by the team next season. The fifth all-time leading goal scorer for the club went on to more productive years with the Florida Panthers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mattias Ohlund: Among defensemen, Ohlund has played the second-most games in history for the Canucks and is extremely underappreciated for his time with the club. The big blueliner joined Vancouver after being selected 13th overall by the team in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
He made it to the NHL three years later and began a career in Vancouver that lasted 11 seasons. Over that span, Ohlund played in 770 games and accumulated 325 points, which is a franchise best among blueliners. Not only did Ohlund play a lot of games, he played top-pairing minutes throughout his Canucks career as well, averaging more than 22 minutes a night with the club.
Never terribly flashy, Ohlund was extremely effective over his 11 seasons. He was a first-team All-Rookie selection in 1998 and appeared in the All-Star Game the following season. Ohlund, now with Tampa Bay Lightning, has missed the past two seasons while battling back from knee surgeries.
Harold Snepsts: The only defenseman to have been elected into the Canucks' Ring of Honor -- which is basically a spot for former great players that weren't quite good enough to have their number retired -- Snepsts played in more games than any defenseman in Canucks history.
With his Cheech Marin-esque mustache and imposing 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, Snepests was a stout defender with a bit of a nasty streak. He certainly wasn't afraid to drop the gloves. Snepests ranks fourth in franchise history with 1,446 penalty minutes. He made the All-Star Game twice and was a key part of Vancouver's first run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1982.
This was a tough choice for this last spot, with Jyrki Lumme, Dennis Kearns and Doug Lidster all deserving some recognition. In the end, Snepsts got the nod for his ties to Vancouver's earlier years and, well, just look at him.
Roberto Luongo: Kirk McLean may have played in more games for the Canucks, but in seven seasons with Vancouver, Luongo has become one of the game's elite goaltenders. Though things are a little more sour between Luongo and the Canucks these days, his impact on the club has been enormous.
Luongo's .919 career save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average are essentially club records. Cory Schneider is on top of the list, but only after 98 appearances compared to Luongo's 406. Vancouver's current goaltender also owns 233 wins and 35 shutouts, both franchise bests. With Luongo in net, Vancouver has become an annual playoff contender, having made the postseason in six out of the seven years he has been there.
Though some of his playoff performances have fallen short, he did help the Canucks to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and all the way to a Game 7 before ultimately falling to the Bruins. He posted four shutouts during that run, including a pair of 1-0 victories over the Bruins.
While things are a little uncomfortable for the moment in Vancouver between Luongo and Canucks management, he has become a bit of an Internet celebrity with his Twitter alias @strombone1. His hilarious tweets have become as much a part of Luongo's narrative as his current displeasure in Vancouver. Everyone loves an athlete unafraid to poke fun at himself.
Almost had him............ pic.twitter.com/QB7EEvRp— Strombone (@strombone1) February 18, 2013
There are a lot of saves you could pick to highlight from Luongo's career, but I always like it when the save is so crazy, the shooter prematurely raises his arms thinking it's a goal. That happened to Brian Campbell on this Luongo save from the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Trevor Linden, Daniel Sedin, Stan Smyl, Toni Tanti, Jyrki Lumme, Thomas Gradin, Orland Kurtenbach, Doug Lidster, Dennis Kearns, Alexander Mogilny, Cliff Ronning, Kirk McLean, Richard Brodeur, Sami Salo, Todd Bertuzzi
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