As deals at the draft go, it didn’t exactly set the hockey world on fire the way the Roberto Luongo
trade had a year before. But Dave Nonis’ acquisition of speedy right-handed centre/right wing Ryan Shannon from Anaheim on the second day of this year’s draft in Columbus could prove to be one that adds a little bit of firepower to a team that could use an offence spark.
“That (June) was an interesting month,” says Shannon, of his trip to the Stanley Cup Final and a trip abroad as well. “I was actually in Italy on a little trip and I got a call from my agent that I had been traded and I was making calls to management from a phone booth in Venice. I’m looking forward to next year and the opportunity to prove myself.”
Although he didn’t light it up in 53 regular season games in his rookie season with the Ducks, the 5’9” 180 pound native of Darien, Connecticut put up impressive numbers over a stellar four-year career at Boston College. Shannon averaged better than a point a game over his last three years there and was the Eagles’ captain in his final campaign on campus where he was a teammate of Canuck netminding prospect Cory Schneider
He was also a teammate of Canucks centre Ryan Kesler
on Team USA at the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship in Halifax where the Americans finished fourth falling 3-2 in the bronze medal game to Finland.
And Shannon had no problems making the jump to the pro game scoring 27 goals and adding 59 assists for 86 points and a spot on the American Hockey League all-rookie team in 2006 in his first full season with the Ducks’ top farm club in Portland, ME.
Last year, Shannon scored a pair of goals (in consecutive games last October) and had nine assists in his first shot at the NHL level. He also played in 11 games (including all five against the Canucks) in the Ducks run to the Stanley Cup last spring.
“We feel that Ryan still has the opportunity to become a solid NHL player," said Nonis after playing Let’s Make a Deal with Brian Burke and acquiring Shannon from Anaheim in exchange for Jason King. "There are still some question marks with his game, but we see him as a prospect. He played a number of games in the NHL this year and obviously learned some things playing on a championship team in Anaheim. He brings some speed to our organization and this is a good opportunity for him.”
Shannon appears to be the prototypical player who could thrive in today’s National Hockey League with less obstruction and more room to freewheel. Size has always been an issue for the 24-year-old, but like so many who’ve had to overcome that obstacle to forge a career in professional hockey, Ryan Shannon uses his speed as a weapon backing defenders off and creating room to operate.
“He is an excellent playmaker with superb passing skills. He is particularly great in power play situations. While he may be small, Shannon is durable, tenacious and works hard,” says the description of Shannon on the website hockeyfutures.com. “He is smart and possesses great on-ice vision. He is an excellent skater with very good speed who moves well through traffic.”
“When I’m back home in Connecticut in the off-season, one of my work out partners is Martin St. Louis and we talk about the size issue,” Shannon says. “It (size) doesn’t matter. It matters if you let it matter. People say I look smaller than the numbers on the ice. It’s a factor if you make it. But the sport is so much more about heart and determination and commitment.”
Ryan Shannon should have every opportunity to come to Canucks training camp and show the coaching staff what he can do. There’s no question that this is a team that can use players with some offensive flair. Although he hasn’t demonstrated that ability on a consistent basis at the NHL level, this appears to be a player who deserves a long look.
Besides, when you consider that the Canucks picked up Shannon – a player who could have a future here – for a guy who wasn’t likely to ever return to the fold, then it was a deal Dave Nonis had to make.
The Canucks’ GM did okay with that trade he pulled off on the eve of the 2006 draft and, years from now, his draft day deal of 2007 may prove to be a pretty shrewd move too. But that’s up to Ryan Shannon to determine.
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org