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 entered the 2012 NHL Entry Draft lacking a third and fourth round pick. Both of which had been moved during previous years as the Canucks were looking for depth.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ third-round pick went to the Anaheim Ducks as the result of a trade on February 28, 2011, that sent Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp to Vancouver in exchange for Joel Perrault and this pick.
- The Vancouver Canucks’ fourth-round pick went to the Philadelphia Flyers as a result of a trade on June 22, 2012, that sent Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus in exchange for Ottawa’s second-round pick in 2012, Phoenix’s fourth-round pick in 2013, and this pick.Columbus previously acquired this pick as a result of a trade on February 27, 2012, that sent Samuel Pahlsson to Vancouver in exchange for the NY Islanders’ fourth-round pick in 2012 and this pick.
All trade details are from wikipedia here.
26th overall – C Brendan Gaunce
With their first selection in the 2012 NHL entry draft, the Canucks selected two-way centre Brendan Gaunce. Praised for his hockey sense, there were concerns about Gaunce’s foot speed, but he always saw the game at such a high level that he seemed to be able to compensate for that with a high-end ability to think the game.
Gaunce had a decent OHL career, which saw him moved to the Erie Otters, as they tried to load up for a Memorial Cup run. Unfortunately, it never materialized but Gaunce was shifted to left wing a few times there, which allowed him to round out his game.
He started the 2014-15 season as a winger but has slowly transitioned back into a centre spot with the Comets last year.
Looking at Gaunce through the pGPS scope, he looked like a good bet with 38.9% of his matches at the time of his selection going onto becoming NHL regulars. Gaunce saw a dip in production in his D+1 season, which resulted in his pGPS falling and the same thing happened again in 2013-14. But once Gaunce transitioned to the AHL, his pGPS climbed back up.
Looking solely at his AHL production last season, an impressive 46.0% of his matches went onto being regulars.
Gaunce has the hockey sense that he should be able to carve out an NHL career in some capacity.
57th overall – RW Alexandre Mallet
The trend of selecting players in their D+1 or D+2 season continued when the Canucks selected Alexandre Mallet with their second round pick in 2012. Mallet exploded offensively in his D+2 season, post 81 points, and followed that up with 25 points in 21 playoff games, which was enough for the Canucks to select him that June.
Mallet turned pro after that, appearing in 18 AHL games before being assigned to the ECHL. He appeared in 59 contests for the Utica Comets during the 2013-14 season, but returned to the ECHL. During the 2014-15 season – he played his last season of his ELC in the ECHL.
He was not qualified by the Canucks and became a free agent. He signed as a free agent with the Kalamazoo Wings last season and put up decent numbers (57 points in 72 games).
If we use pGPS to look at Mallet at the time of his selection in June of 2012, a 4.4% of comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars. There were 182 players that matched Mallet, and 8 of them played 200 games in the NHL.
It was understandable why Mallet was an attractive pick, he could skate very well and would use that speed to be physical. However the Canucks were mesmerized by this when their were red flags abound. Prior to his 81 points in 2012, his QMJHL career high was 19 points. Like many older players in the CHL, he dominated due to being further developed physically.
The Canucks missed out on Damon Severson (60th) and Shayne Gothisbehere (78th), which only makes this bad pick look even worse.
147th overall – D Ben Hutton
The always smiling Ben Hutton was taken by the Canucks in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL entry draft. Following another trend that appeared to happen during the Gillis tenure, the Canucks selected Hutton as he was committed to the University of Maine, thus would have more time to develop. Hutton had also completed his D+1 season when the Canucks took him in 2012.
This thought process was used for their later round selections during their tenure, of which Hutton fit perfectly.
Hutton had a decent D+1 season for the University of Maine, but exploded offensively in his second year there. Posting a high of 15 goals and 14 assists during the 2013-14 season, the rumble started of ‘there might be something here’ for Hutton. The Brockville native returned to Maine for his junior season (2014-15), and saw a decrease in offensive production, but still had all the underlying talent and skating abilities that he was worth an ELC.
He played four games for the Comets at the end of that 2014-15 season, and scored his first professional game. As we all know, Hutton earned himself a spot on the Canucks opening night roster for the 2015-16 season.
Former Canucks writer, Josh Weissbock knocked it out of the park about Hutton at the beginning of last season.
Just a reminder, for a variety of reasons, pGPS is unable to correctly project OJHL players, thus Hutton’s draft season has been excluded to avoid incorrect information or expectations. With that being said, as we can see, as Hutton’s production went, so did his pGPS. The 87.9% for his NHL production, is based solely on a player of the same age, stature and production, but it’s fair to assume that Hutton will be an NHL regular.
As Josh mentioned throughout the piece linked above, there were many underlying numbers to suggest that Hutton could become an NHL player in some capacity. Just may have been quicker than expected, and likely didn’t appear so for Hutton, when he was coming out of the OJHL in 2012.
177th overall – C Wes Myron
Coming out of the BCHL, Wes Myron fit both of the trends that the Canucks had been following, which was selecting players in their D+2 season and who were committed to the NCAA.
Myron played 21 games at Boston University, where he only had three points before leaving to join the ECHL. Over the course of 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, he played a total of 34 games in the ECHL. He scored 2 goals and 11 assists.
Using pGPS, 20% of Myron’s matches went onto becoming NHL regulars. But there is one important note, that there were only five total matches, with one being successful. That isn’t a large enough sample size to say it was a good bet or bad bet. Without looking at his pGPS %’s for the remainder of his career, it’s safe to assume that it sewered immediately after his draft season.
Myron did not play any professional or collegiate hockey last season.
The Canucks missed out of goaltender Marek Mazanec before their next selection.
207th overall – F Matthew Beattie
With the fifth last pick of the day, the Canucks took Matthew Beattie, who was committed to Yale University. Beattie had just completed his D+1 season when the Canucks called his name.
Beattie had 9 points during his 53 game career at Yale University, but he did not appear in any games during his senior season last year.
He went unsigned and currently does not appear to have a contract anywhere.
Once again, because Beattie was selected out of US High School hockey, unfortunately pGPS is unable to analyze Beattie. But it doesn’t appear there was much loss here.
With Brendan Gaunce entering the final year of his entry level contract, the jury is still out on him. But looking at the draft class in totality, the Canucks got lucky with Hutton developing the way he did. Mallet, Myron and Beattie were lost picks.
Tomorrow, we conclude the look at the Canucks draft under Mike Gillis with the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.