But in the end, draft weekend didn’t provide any fireworks by the hockey club.
Instead, it was a rather conventional business trip for the Canucks who came away from event with five new prospects they hope will one day get the chance to skate for the team at the NHL level.
After selecting Belleville Bulls centre Brendan Gaunce with the 26th pick in Friday’s first round, the Canucks were back at it Saturday morning on the floor of the Consol Energy Center stockpiling more talent for years down the line.
When all was said and done, the Canucks had drafted four forwards and a defenseman with their five weekend selections. If there are similarities in the prospects, it’s the fact all are North American players and all possess size. And after the 18-year-old Gaunce, the other four are a little more mature having been through the draft process in previous years:
The Canucks took the 6’1” 195-pound left winger from Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League 57th overall in the second round. A 20-year-old, Mallet had a productive overage season scoring 34 goals and 81 points. He also registered 132 penalty minutes. Described as a Tomas Holmstrom-type who isn’t afraid to get involved physically, Mallet drew national attention with a five-goal game in March helping Rimouski defeat Chicoutimi 7-4. Mallet attended St. Louis Blues rookie camp in the fall of 2010 before returning to junior
The Canucks selected the smooth-skating 6’3” 195-pound defenseman with the 147th pick in the fifth round. Hutton, a Brockville, Ontario native, split the past season playing Junior A in Kemptville and Nepean where he scored 11 goals and added 32 assists for 43 points in 57 games. The 19-year-old will play at the University of Maine next season and gets glowing reviews from his former coach in Kemptville.
“He’s the best defenseman in our league, by far. He’s like a man among boys out there,” said Pat Malloy to the Bangor Daily News. “He oozes with pro potential. His skill level is so high. He’s big and his puck skills and hands are off the charts. He’s a one-man forecheck breaker, he has a good shot and he’s an above-average skater. He plays 35 minutes a game and plays important minutes against the other team’s top line. He’s a straight arrow from a good family who will do anything to win and will do anything for the team. He’s a dream to coach.”
The Canucks spent their sixth round pick (177th overall) in their own backyard taking the 6’1” 182-pound left winger from the BC Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies. The 19-year-old Victoria native racked up 17 goals and 42 points in just 26 games before his 2011-12 season was cut short by a shoulder injury. Still, Myron had a chance to represent Team Canada West at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Langley last fall and next year will play for the Boston University Terriers
The Canucks final pick in this year’s draft – 207th overall in the seventh round - was used to select the big winger who amassed 39 goals and 74 points in 28 games of high school hockey in New Hampshire. Listed at 6’3” and 180 pounds, the 19-year-old White House Station, New Jersey native has committed to Yale University for next season where his high school coach has no doubts he’ll continue to develop into a legitimate NHL prospect.
“Matt has been outstanding all year. He’s one of my all-time favorites in 25 years here. He’s a real competitor when the going gets tough. His skating is outstanding, explosive and he has pretty darn good hands as well,” Exeter Academy coach Dana Barbin told College Hockey Prospective. “Matt needs to improve speed of his shot and put on some weight, but Matt has flown under the radar. He could be the real deal.”
With only five selections in this year’s draft, the Vancouver Canucks are hoping their class of 2012 is one of quality over quantity. In recent years the hockey club has loaded up on defenseman, but it’s clear the goal this time around was to add as much offensive talent as possible.
There is no way of knowing how the players taken by the Canucks this weekend will develop from here, but there are five more players who are Canucks property and five more players for fans to follow in the years ahead as they push to make their dreams of big league careers come true.