A few weeks ago, I completed an exercise using pGPS to look at the UFA prospects then Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis signed during his tenure at the time of their signings.
Seeing the have and have nots in terms of NHL potential proved an interesting endeavour. Unsurprisingly, Chris Tanev checked out as one of the better-rated prospects of the group when viewed through the lens of pGPS (Prospect Graduation Probabilities System) at the time of his signing.
In the comment section, and on Twitter, there were requests to do all of Mike Gillis’s draft classes. Well, ask and you shall receive. Today’s post will kick off a week-long series reviewing the 2008-13 draft classes with pGPS.
Before we dive in, let’s make it clear that this isn’t a comparison between the previous regime and the current one. This is simply an exercise of looking back to see how those draft classes would’ve looked using the tools we have available to us now.
The Canucks went into the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with an obvious need on the blue line. That was their Achilles heel when the Chicago Blackhawks bounced them from the second round months earlier.
In keeping with this week’s series on Mike Gillis’ drafting record through the lens of pGPS, I’ll be looking at how they fared addressing that need in this particular season.
The Canucks entered the 2010 NHL Entry Draft without their second and third round picks, both of which were lost in trades. In an effort to address their defensive deficiencies, the Canucks traded their first round pick to the Florida Panthers on draft day for Keith Ballard. They acquired a sixth round pick from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for disgruntled defenceman Mathieu Schneider.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick went to the Florida Panthers as the result of a trade on June 25, 2010 that sent Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich to Vancouver in exchange for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and this pick.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ second-round pick went to the Columbus as the result of a trade on March 3, 2010 that sent Raffi Torres to Buffalo in exchange for Nathan Paestch and this pick. Buffalo previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on July 4, 2008 that sent Steve Bernier to Vancouver in exchange for Los Angeles’ third-round pick in 2009 and this pick.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ third-round pick went to the Carolina Hurricanes as the result of a March 3, 2010 trade that sent Andrew Alberts to the Canucks in exchange for this pick.
- The Phoenix Coyotes’ sixth-round pick went to the Vancouver Canucks as the result of a trade on March 3, 2010 that sent Mathieu Schneider to Phoenix in exchange for Sean Zimmerman and this pick (being conditional at the time of the trade). The condition – Schneider successfully clears re-entry waivers – was converted
115th overall – D Patrick McNally
Taken from the ranks of United States High School Hockey, Patrick McNally was an offensive defenceman committed to playing at Harvard in the 2011-12 season. McNally wouldn’t just play at Harvard, but acquitted himself well as a freshman, posting 28 points in 34 games. All that led to McNally finding himself a finalist for the ECAC Rookie of the Year award. It was all downhill from there though.
McNally was involved in a cheating scandal in his sophomore season at Harvard, which cost him all but seven games to suspension. Never did McNally touch on the potential he shined in his freshman season.
In his senior year, McNally scored 21 points in 21 games. That was good news for the Canucks, who hoped to recoup some sort of value for their wayward prospect. They dealt McNally to the San Jose Sharks for the 210th overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Canucks General Manager Jim Benning selected WHL defenceman Tate Olson with that pick.
Unfortunately, pGPS is unable to analyze McNally at the time of the draft due to him hailing from USHS. The Glen Head, N.Y. native looked like a savvy pick after the 2011-12 season, but fell to the wayside.
145th overall – D Adam Polasek
Vancouver turned their attention to the QMJHL with their fifth round selection, grabbing Czech defenceman Adam Polasek. Known mostly for his toughness and general pugnacity, Polasek filled a void for just that type of defenceman in the Canucks’ system. Though it should be noted, Polasek was no slouch offensively either, as his 41 draft year points can attest. The Canucks eventually rewarded Polasek with an entry-level contract.
Polasek jumped between the ECHL and AHL from about 2011-13. The Canucks tried to carry that plan into the third and final year of his ELC, but Polasek requested his contract be terminated so he could return to the Czech Republic. He now plays in the KHL and is off to a relatively good start with Novosibirsk Sibir.
Viewed through the lens of pGPS, Polasek had a reasonable 13% comparable success rate at the time Vancouver selected him. Relative to where he was taken, that’s good value. The real stinger is that only two spots later Vancouver Giants forward Brendan Gallagher was taken. Ouch.
172nd overall – C Alex Friesen
A Utica Comets fan favourite, the Vancouver Canucks selected Alex Friesen with the sixth round selection they acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes for Mathieu Schneider. A hard-working two-way centre with offensive chops to boot, Friesen seemed like a worthwhile risk at this point in the draft. Unfortunately for Friesen, he’s only 5’10”, which has an impact on his ability to break through at the NHL level, though he’s carved out a successful professional career all the same.
And hell, for whatever it’s worth, any time I talk about Friesen, it’s so I can manufacture an excuse to post this hit he laid on Taylor Hall in the OHL.
Friesen’s appeared in one game for the Canucks — it was last season, too.
Firing up the trusty pGPS machine, 5.3% of Friesen’s matches went onto being NHL regulars, so it’s clear the odds were stacked against him from making it to the show.
Friesen was signed by the St Louis Blues organization this summer.
175th overall – G Jonathan Iilahti
Using their own sixth round pick this time around the Canucks selected Finnish netminder Jonathan Iilahti, a player who’d shown well in the U18 World Juniors prior to the draft.
Iilahti never really made an impression for the Canucks, never attending a prospect development or training camp. He was selected in the CHL import draft by the Vancouver Giants, but opted to stay in Europe, so it appeared that the writing was on the wall that Iilahti was never going to make the jump to North America. The Canucks never tendered him a contract offer, as he continued to jump between leagues in Europe.
205th overall – D Sawyer Hannay
With their final selection in the 2010 entry draft, the Canucks went back to the QMJHL and took defenceman Sawyer Hannay. To say he was a rough customer is a bit of an understatement, but lacked any sort of offensive flair. Hannay has scored one goal in his entire hockey career, and that was during his draft season.
Not much to analyze about his career – he played a few more seasons in the QMJHL, and was not signed by the Canucks. He played last season at St Thomas University of the Atlantic University Sport.
Surprisingly, 5.0% of Hannay’s statistical matches went onto becoming NHL regulars, as expected, the Moncton, N.B. ended up being a part of the 95%. Luckily the Canucks didn’t miss out on any notable names, which isn’t a shock given how late Hannay was selected.
Given that there were 114 picks before the Canucks even made a selection, it’s fair to suggest that the Canucks were behind the eight ball. Ideally they would’ve extracted one player out of this draft class, but they got zilch. It’s important to remember that the Canucks were about to enjoy their best season in franchise history and come within one game of winning the Stanley Cup.
They needed defensive depth and they had to outbid other teams for Ballard. It unfortunately was a disaster with Ballard, but at the moment of the trade it made complete sense based on the market, necessity and willingness to improve. Although it was almost certain, there was no guarantee that Dan Hamhuis would sign in Vancouver, and they needed to add multiple defenceman.
Later today, we will look at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for the Canucks.