The Canucks didn’t make the much-rumoured splash by clamoring their way up the ladder for a top-three pick in 2007, but they left Columbus with a slew of solid prospects all the same.
Chicago GM Dale Tallon and Philadelphia boss Paul Holmgren both declined Dave Nonis’ trade offers prior to Friday’s first round derby, leaving the Canucks with the 25th overall selection.
"We made a significant push, in fact, I think at one point I probably offered more than I would have liked to, but if I was them, I would have done the same thing [by holding onto the top pick]," said Nonis.
"We would have been comfortable with a number of players up there - obviously Kyle [Turris] will be a great player, and is a local kid - but there was a reason why those picks weren’t going to be moved."
Even without a last-minute charge up the charts, the Canucks did well in Columbus.
In what was a minor deviation from most draft lists, the Canucks selected a rangy centre from Minnesota who split time between high-school hockey and the Tier 1 Junior ‘A’ circuit last season.
Deemed the 23rd-best skater among North American’s by Central Scouting, Patrick White
is described as an intense competitor with natural scoring ability. Born in Grand Rapids, Min., White was one of 10 American-born players selected in the first round. He represents the third time in the past five years that the Canucks have gone to the U.S. with their first-round pick (Cory Schneider
in 2004, Ryan Kesler
“We liked his offensive instincts,” said Canucks GM Dave Nonis of the 6-foot-1, 186 pound centre. “He’s really good with the puck and his vision is above average.”
“We’ll have to wait for this guy to grow…[but] he’s a skill player and that’s one of the areas you know we’re trying to get at.”
The Canucks passed up on 10th-ranked winger David Perron from the QMJHL, who went to the St. Louis Blues with the 26th pick, 18th-ranked defender Nick Ross who went to Phoenix with the 31st pick, and 21st-ranked Nick Petrecki who went 28th to San Jose.
“The rankings were kind of all over the place,” explained White. “I was just coming here to have some fun tonight. I’m happy to be here with the Canucks and I’m really excited.”
“[Canucks fans] are going to find a strong forward with a lot of offensive talent, a quick shot with goal scoring ability,” he said. Central Scouting
: A skilled forward with the ability to make a difference… strong player with a physical presence… plays tough in the corners and in traffic… is good on the right wing and gets his wrist shot off with ease. Round Two
Canucks scouts were barely settled back into their seats Saturday morning when Vancouver made their second selection of the 2007 draft, 33rd overall.
Nonis opted to stay closer to home in the second round selecting a Vancouver Island product who played junior with the Everett Silvertips last season. Taylor Ellington
, a 6-foot, 200-pound defender, was ranked 39th heading into the draft, but moved up on the Canucks’ list after impressing at the combine in Toronto.
“I’m a defensive defenseman [and] I bring a physical edge,” said Ellington, who draws comparisons to a young Willie Mitchell. “I’m working on my two-way game. I think I have offense and I need to work on it this summer.”
Ellington played in 60 regular season games last year scoring five goals and 13 points while finishing a plus-5 with 65 penalty minutes.
Again, the Canucks bucked expectations by selecting Ellington with the 33rd pick, with Stefan Legein (ranked 13th), Oscar Moller (ranked 20th), and William Sweatt (ranked 27th) still on the board.
At least some Ellington’s allure has to do with his competitive nature and his overall character – something the Canucks have put a lot of stock in over the past three or four drafts.
“It’s going to be a long process [to make the NHL] and I’m ready for that,” said Ellington. “All I can do is work my hardest and train my hardest. It’s a step up. They’re men up there.”
“I was always a Canucks fan. You grow up idolizing Pavel Bure, Cliff Ronning, Trevor Linden. It’s an honour right now. I’m in awe.” Central Scouting
: A stay-at-home defenseman that finishes his checks well… good coverage and gap control… able to jump up into the rush and is good one-on-one… needs to have some more patience with the puck under pressure and needs to improve his conditioning. Round Five
Both the Blackhawks at 56th overall, and the Kings at 61st overall, exercised their options on the Canucks’ other two second-round picks as a result of prior trades for Bryan Smolinski and Brent Sopel. That meant Nonis and company sat idle till the fifth round.
With back-to-back picks at 145th and 146th, the Canucks opted for a smallish, fleet-footed forward from Baie Comeau of the QMJHL and a big Russian pivot who played last season for CSKA 2.
At 5-foot-10, 176-pounds, Charles-Antoine Messier doesn’t fit the mould of the much-talked about “Anaheim Ducks” template, but he’s a skilled forward who scored 27 goals 48 points in 69 games last season.
Though he wears #44, Messier patterns his game after Boston Bruin Patrice Bergeron. Born in Boucherville, Quebec, Messier won’t likely crack the Canucks’ line-up in the near future, and will stay in junior with the Drakkar for at least another season. Central Scouting
: A skilled forward with good hockey sense... skates well with good mobility… carries the puck with confidence and has soft hands… effective on the penalty kill… needs to work on his defence and be tougher along the boards.
In keeping with a tradition of swinging for the fences in the later rounds by selecting an unheralded Russian talent (Sergei Shirokov, Sergei Topol
, Ilia Krikunov
, and Evgeny Gladskikh
), the Canucks opted for Moscov-native Ilya Kablukov with the 146th pick.
A product of the CKSA Red Army system, Kablukov is described as a big man with solid skating ability of the Artem Chubarov mould. Kablukov played well for the Russian side at the Under-18 World Junior Championships, but was held off the score sheet. He’s been primarily deployed as a defensive specialist, though he possesses scoring ability.
At 6-foot-3 and 183-pounds, this left-handed Russian centre should have little trouble adjusting to the North American game. Kablukov has risen through the same Russian system as 2006 Canucks’ draft pick Sergei Shirokov. Round Six
It’s easy to chalk up the later picks as Hail-Mary hopefuls, but a resourceful Canucks’ scouting staff has a history of unearthing late-round gems (Jannik Hansen
at 287th, Kevin Bieksa
at 151st, Mario Bliznak at 205th).
The history bodes well for U.S.-born centre Taylor Matson
, a Mound, Michigan native who played last season in Des Moines of the USHL.
Another small pivot at 5-foot-10, 165-pounds, Matson finished his senior high-school year at the Academy of Holy Angels scoring 17 goals and 19 assists in 19 games helping the Stars to a 26-1-1 record.
He was finalist for the 2007 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, and was named AP honorable mention all-state. He’ll play with the Minnesota Golden Gophers next season alongside Canucks’ first-round pick Patrick White. Round Six
The Canucks rounded out the 2007 NHL Entry draft selecting Vancouverite Dan Gendur with the 206th pick.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound winger played right wing with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL before being traded to the Everett Silvertips late in the season.
Gendur, the Canucks' second Canadian-born pick of the draft, was also Vancouver's second Everett player taken in 2007.
Gendur scored 22 goals and 49 points in 61 games in 2006-07. Gendur finished the year a plus-20, and had four goals and eight points in 12 post season games. Along with teammate Zach Hamill, Gendur is the only other Silvertip to record seven points in a single game. He did this January against the Portland Winter Hawks.