The Vancouver Canucks and the NHL Draft have not had a great relationship over the years.
For every player that went on to have a productive NHL career like Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure (in the sixth round, no less), or Henrik and Daniel Sedin, there’s been many more disappointments – some of which never played a single game in the league.
In many ways, the draft is a crapshoot. Teams are picking teenagers that still have maturing to do, so their future is unpredictable. Sometimes so much so, they end up being draft busts, falling significantly short of the expectations placed on them.
Here, in reverse chronological order, are the top 10 all-time Canucks draft busts:
1. Cody Hodgson (10th overall in 2008)
Easily the highest scoring NHL player on this list, Cody Hodgson qualifies as a draft bust despite scoring 142 points in 328 games because of how quickly his career flamed out.
After being drafted 10th overall by the Canucks in 2008, the Hodgson pick looked like a stroke of genius by new GM Mike Gillis. He improved on his point total, from 85 points in 68 games in his draft year, to 92 points in 53 games the following season.
Hodgson starred at the World Juniors, scoring 16 points (5-11-16) in six games, helping Canada to a gold medal victory and drawing consideration for tournament MVP.
Though he showed flashes of brilliance early in his career with the Canucks before moving on to Buffalo, he wasn’t long for the league. Eight years after being drafted, Hodgson announced his retirement.
2. Patrick White (25th overall in 2007)
A first round pick by Dave Nonis, not only did Patrick White never play an NHL game, he never even got a sniff of the AHL.
No Canucks first rounder has ever busted as quick as White, who finished 15th in scoring with the University of Minnesota in the first season after he was drafted, scoring just 10 points (6-4-10) despite not missing a game.
After four seasons in the NCAA, White played professionally in second-rate European leagues for six seasons before retiring last year.
3. Taylor Ellington (33rd overall in 2007)
The 2007 draft alone should have been enough to get Nonis fired.
Following up the wasted 25th overall pick on White, the Canucks struck out on another prospect eight picks later.
Vancouver chose Taylor Ellington, a 6-foot-2 defenceman from Victoria. Like White, Ellington never came close to cracking an NHL roster. He played four seasons in the ECHL, before heading to Denmark for his final year of pro hockey in 2013-14.
4. Fedor Fedorov (66th overall in 2001)
Though he wasn’t picked by the Canucks until the third round, Fedor Fedorov is a deserving member to be on this list.
Given his last name, immense talent, and huge 6-foot-3 frame, fans were understandably optimistic for Fedorov’s future when he potted four goals in eight preseason games in 2002.
That was as good as it got for Sergei’s younger brother in Vancouver though. Fedorov played just seven games for the Canucks in 2002-03, followed by another eight in 2003-04.
He was eventually traded to the New York Rangers, but not before Kevin Bieksa punched him out in the parking lot in 2004 when they were both with the Manitoba Moose.
Fedorov went back to Russia in 2006, where he played until he retired in 2015. Amazingly, he never scored an NHL goal, registering just two assists in 18 career games.
5. Josh Holden (12th overall in 1996)
Josh Holden was a highly-touted prospect in his draft year, scoring 112 points (57-55-112) in 70 games with the Regina Pats. Adding 105 penalty minutes, he proved he had toughness too.
That’s why the Canucks were likely pleased when Holden fell to them with the No. 12 pick, given he was ranked higher by Central Scouting.
Holden had some very productive AHL seasons, but could never put it together in the NHL, playing just 60 career games (46 with Vancouver). After giving up on the NHL, Holden moved overseas where he played another 13 years, only retiring two days ago, at the age of 40. He excelled in the Swiss league, consistently putting up high point totals.
6. Libor Polasek (21st overall in 1992)
Libor Polasek is one of two Canucks first rounders (Patrick White is the other) to never play a single NHL game.
As Canucks fans were begging for the team to choose Pavel Bure’s younger brother Valeri, Pat Quinn instead chose the 6-foot-4 Czech centre.
Polasek played parts of four seasons in the American League before heading back to the Czech Republic. His best AHL season saw him score 23 points (11-12-23) in 76 games.
7. Alex Stojanov (7th overall in 1991)
Plenty of talent was available at the 1991 draft, with the likes of Eric Lindros, Scott Niedermayer, Peter Forsberg, Alexei Kovalev, and Markus Naslund going in the first round. With the seventh pick, the Canucks wound up with Alex Stojanov.
Quinn made up for the selection years later by trading Stojanov for Naslund.
Injuries derailed Stojanov’s career, though his numbers were never eye-popping in junior. The 6-foot-4 winger scored 45 points (25-20-45) in 62 OHL games in his draft year.
He wound up playing 107 NHL games with Vancouver and Pittsburgh, scoring just two goals.
8. Shawn Antoski (18th overall in 1990)
Armed with two first round picks, the Canucks were ready to make a splash when they hosted the 1990 NHL Draft at BC Place.
They chose skilled centre Petr Nedved with the second overall pick, and went in the exact opposite direction with the 18th pick, snagging rugged winger Shawn Antoski.
A 6-foot-4 forward that put up 330 penalty minutes in his draft year, it was obvious what the Canucks likedin Antoski.
He was a fourth-line enforcer, scoring just three goals and adding 599 penalty minutes in 183 career games with Vancouver, Phildelphia, Pittsburgh, and Anaheim. Antoski is best remembered for his role in the Canucks’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, when he appeared in 16 playoff games.
9. Jason Herter (8th overall in 1989)
Remember Jason Herter? Yeah, me neither.
A high-scoring defenceman out of the University of North Dakota, the Canucks chose Herter with the eighth overall pick. He put up good numbers for two more years in the NCAA (he had 50 points in 38 games in 1989-90), and he produced in the AHL and IHL too.
The Canucks never gave him a chance though. He was dealt to the New York Islanders in 1995 for cash.
The Islanders gave him one look at the NHL level, and wouldn’t you know it, he got an assist. That was the only game he ever played in the league, but at least he retired as a point-per-game player.
10. Dan Woodley (7th overall in 1986)
The Canucks chose high-scoring centre Dan Woodley with the seventh overall pick in 1986, after a 92-point season with the Portland Winterhawks.
After another year of junior, Woodley turned pro in 1987, scoring 66 points in 69 games. That was enough to get him a call up to the Canucks, where he potted two goals in five games in 1987-88.
He didn’t last much longer in the organization though. Halfway through his second pro season he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for future Vancouver VooDoo roller hockey star Jose Charbonneau.
The Habs never gave him a look, and he wound up bouncing around in minor pro leagues until 1995.