It’s a narrative Canucks fans are all too familiar with:
“[Enter name of talented young draft pick here] will miss the Young Stars Classic Tournament due to [enter name of freak injury/diagnosis here].”
This year, the Vancouver Canucks will play the entirety of the tournament without Jared McCann, the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft this past June. After flying to Kelowna, McCann saw Canucks doctors there, was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and was sent back home.
The tough news doesn’t begin (or end) there. While 6th overall pick, Jake Virtanen, is able to skate and practice with the Young Stars team, he won’t play in the tournament due to continued rehabilitation after shoulder surgery in May. Presumably, you already knew that. What you may not have known is that “the kissing disease” has struck the Canucks prospect pool twice this summer! Vancouver’s 2013 3rd round pick Cole Cassels also had mono this summer and it’s unclear whether he will suit up over the next week or so. The Canucks prospect pool may not be the deepest, but they certainly get the ladies (we’re looking for literally anything remotely positive here).
Missing serious time has become somewhat fashionable for young Canucks in the past several years. We’ve already mentioned Virtanen, but last year Hunter Shinkaruk played just 18 games the entire season after he opted to go under the knife for season ending surgery in January. Not to be outdone, Niklas Jensen started on the shelf last year due to a shoulder injury.
If we want to indulge in self pity a little while longer, all we have to do is take a quick peek at past Canucks 1st round picks and see they haven’t worked out. Picks from the last two or three years are still developing. Okay, that’s fine, but you’d have to go back to the 2004 NHL Draft to find a player that developed into even just an NHL regular under the Canucks tutelage. What has made matters worse is the incredible bad luck their top prospects have had:
2005 – Luc Bourdon
In perhaps the most unexpected and unfortunate development in Canucks history, Bourdon passed away in 2008 after a motorcycle accident near his hometown of Shippagan, New Brunswick.
2008 – Cody Hodgson
Where to start… Hodgson played a pivotal role at the 2009 WJC in Ottawa, but once again couldn’t live up to the admittedly high expectations levied by Canucks management, fans, and media alike. His Canucks career got off to a rocky start when he suffered a controversial back injury in 2009. He did do this though, and nobody can take that away from us.
2009 – Jordan Schroeder
Never fully developed into the player the Canucks envisioned. In the Canucks first preseason game last year, he fractured his left ankle. Three games after returning he… you guessed it, fractured his left ankle. After spending limited time in a bottom six role, Schroeder wasn’t given a qualifying offer and signed with the Minnesota Wild as a UFA.
2011 – Nicklas Jensen
The promising Canucks suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason last year, which was likely the cause for his slow start in the AHL. He eventually found his stride later in the year but ultimately finished with disappointing numbers.
The prevailing theme here is this: the Vancouver Canucks have not drafted well in a long, long time. One of the many reasons Jim Benning was brought in as general manager by Trevor Linden was to fix that. Benning drafted well as part of the Sabres and Bruins organizations and can hopefully provide the Canucks with some exciting young prospects.
As for the Young Stars Tournament, the Canucks will have some notable players on their roster tomorrow night. Bo Horvat, Niklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Dane Fox, and Hunter Shinkaruk highlight the forward corps, while Frank Corrado and Jordan Subban are sure to excite on the blueline. Their 2014 picks Thatcher Demko and Nikita Tryamkin will miss the tournament, as Demko has started his NCAA season with Boston College and Tryamkin will begin the year with the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (gesundheit). Here is a highlight video of Tryamkin to tide you over. This will serve as your weekly reminder that Tryamkin is 6’7″ and 230 lbs. Yowza…
Be sure to stay tuned for Ryan Biech‘s comprehensive analysis of the Young Stars Tournament this weekend as he travels up to Penticton on Friday to take in all off the action.