Happy Independence Day to our friends south of the border.
In honour of the Fourth of July, let’s take a look at the best American-born players to ever suit up for the Vancouver Canucks.
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1. Ryan Kesler
The all-time leader in games played (655), goals (182), assists (211), points (393), and just about every other category among American Canucks players, Ryan Kesler is the clear No. 1 in this category — for now.
Kesler’s list of accomplishments includes back-to-back seasons where he scored between 73-75 points, which includes a 41-goal season in 2010-11. The native of Livonia, Michigan also won a Selke Trophy that year, and scored 19 points in 25 playoff games on the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
He was also named team MVP in 2009 and 2014 – his last season in Vancouver.
2. Brock Boeser
With 116 points in 140 games in his first 2+ years in the NHL, nobody has had a more impressive start to their Canucks career than Brock Boeser. If he keeps this up, he’ll supplant Kesler as the all-time best American to play in Vancouver.
3. Bret Hedican
A part of two of the biggest trades in Canucks history, no American defenceman has more points (102) in team history.
Hedican played parts of six seasons (310 games) with the Canucks, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1994 after being acquired from St Louis in a blockbuster deal that included Jeff Brown and Nathan LaFayette.
The Saint Paul, Minnesota native left town as part of the trade that sent Pavel Bure to the Florida Panthers in 1999.
4. Curt Fraser
A member of the famed ‘Kid Line’ in the late 1970s and early 80s with Stan Smyl and Thomas Gradin, Curt Fraser was tough as nails.
The Cincinnati, Ohio product put up 651 penalty minutes in 348 career games with Vancouver, but he could score too. Fraser scored over 20 goals in a season twice, including a 28-goal, 67-point season in 1981-82, before adding 10 points (3-7-10) in the Canucks’ run to the 1982 Stanley Cup Final.
5. Chris Higgins
Two-thirds of the short-lived American Express Line with Kesler and David Booth (who sadly did not make this list), Chris Higgins was an integral part of the Canucks’ 2011 Cup run.
Acquired at the trade deadline that spring, the Smithtown, New York native proved to be a very useful middle-six winger for the Canucks for six seasons, scoring 142 points in 314 games.
6. Ryan Miller
Though he didn’t do a lot of winning in Vancouver, Ryan Miller was a steady No. 1 goalie behind some poor Canucks teams for three seasons (150 games). The East Lansing, Michigan native had a .914 save percentage in blue and green.
7. Trent Klatt
The first linemate of the Sedins with the Canucks, Trent Klatt resurrected his career in Vancouver.
The Robbinsdale, Minnesota native’s career appeared to be on the ropes when he was sent to the AHL in 1999. He bounced back as a hard-working middle-six winger that gave the team grit, point production, and some clutch playoff goals.
He scored 111 points in 313 career games with the Canucks.
8. Cory Schneider
The Canucks’ all-time leader with a .927 save percentage (albeit in only 98 games), Cory Schneider’s time in Vancouver was eventful.
The Marblehead, Massachusetts native was Roberto Luongo’s backup for two seasons before stealing the starter’s job in the 2012 playoffs. After one year as the team’s No. 1 guy in 2013, when he was named team MVP, Schneider was dealt to New Jersey.
In his only three seasons as an NHL regular in Vancouver, Schneider posted save percentages of .929, .936, and .927. In 10 playoff games, he had a .922 save percentage.
9. Gerry O’Flaherty
The only player on this list that played for the Canucks during the 1970s, Gerry O’Flaherty ranks second only to Ryan Kesler in games played (435) and goals (98). The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native played for the Canucks from 1972 to 1978, which includes Vancouver’s first playoff team in 1975.
10. Donald Brashear
Without a doubt the toughest player on this list, Donald Brashear was the most feared enforcer in the NHL when he was with the Canucks. Born in Bedford, Indiana, Brashear proved he was more than just a fighter in Vancouver, scoring 8-11 goals in six consecutive seasons.
Here’s a look at the guys that just missed the cut:
- Scott Lachance (25 points in 157 games)
- Jere Gillis (138 points in 309 games)
- Dave Capuano (52 points in 88 games)
- David Booth (51 points in 134 games)
- Tom Fergus (48 points in 80 games)
- Tracy Pratt (39 points in 176 games)
- Nick Bonino (39 points in 75 games)
- Craig Coxe (31 points in 177 games)
- Garth Snow (33 wins in 109 games)