At the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa, Ontario, the Vancouver Canucks held six draft picks: a first rounder (10th overall), a second rounder (51st overall), a fourth rounder (114th overall), a fifth rounder (138th overall), a sixth rounder (185th overall) and a seventh rounder (205th overall).
Luc Bourdon (D) - 1st round, 10th overall
Bourdon, the sixth ranked North American skater, was taken by the Canucks, a team with no up-and-coming defencemen, with the hope he could become a franchise defenceman with the team—he definitely had the tools. He was a complete defenceman at 6'3" and 200 pounds: he skated and moved the puck well, possessed a booming point shot and had shutdown ability. However, it was documented that Bourdon's hockey sense was lacking and is inconsistent.
In his first year of pro hockey in 2007-08, Bourdon was called up on numerous occasions and ended up suiting up in 27 games. He lit the lamp twice, unleashing that cannon of a shot on a one-timer. He showed us that his lack of hockey sense wouldn't be holding him back from becoming a star NHL defenceman and that he wasn't going to allow himself and his teammates to be pushed around, having two fights with Cody McCormick and Zach Stortini.
Bourdon will be best remembered as a Canuck when as a 19-year-old, he made a diving pokecheck on Alexander Ovechkin on a partial breakaway, thwarting Ovechkin's bid to put his team up 3-2 early in the third period.
Could have drafted: C Anze Kopitar (11th overall)
Mason Raymond (LW) - 2nd round, 51st overall
Despite being ranked the 123rd North American Skater by NHL Central Scouting, Raymond was projected to go as early as the first round. The Edmonton Oilers had considered using their 36th overall pick to select Raymond, but opted to choose defenceman Taylor Chorney, expecting Raymond to slip to the third round; the Oilers had the 81st and 86th pick.
The Canucks did not have a third round pick and even considered trading for a late first round pick to draft him, but things worked out in the end.
"He has very good speed and he sees options so quickly. He handles the puck extremely well while he's in motion and he's always dangerous because he can change direction in tight spaces so quickly. And his thinking complements everything else so well," said Canucks head scout Ron Delorme.
Raymond's skating has come as advertised as he has one of the best sets of wheels in the National Hockey League. As a rookie, he competed in the Fastest Skater competition at the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.
Raymond has not developed into a top-end offensive player, but has become a solid all-around NHL player with the ability to back check effectively, play up front and kill penalties at the point on the power play and appears to be a sure-fire 20-goal player each year.
Could have drafted: D Kris Letang (62nd overall), D Cody Franson (79th overall)
Alexandre Vincent (G) - 4th round, 114th overall
Vincent was the fourth ranked North American goaltender in the final NHL Central Scouting and was projected to go in the first round by USA Today, but fell all the way to the fourth round before being snatched up by the Canucks.
At the time, his size (6'4" and 205 lbs.) earned him comparisons to then-Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. Kyle Woodlief of USA Today described him as a big goaltender with "phenomenal quickness and athleticism," long legs that make him "extremely tough to beat down low," and very able to cover the upper half of the net, but labeled his technique as his major flaw.
Vincent turned pro in the midst of the 2006-07 season when he left the Val d'Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after he lost both the starting and backup jobs. He would join the Canucks' ECHL affiliate, the Victoria Salmon Kings who were looking for a looking for a goaltender with Julien Ellis on recall to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
He only lasted two games with the Salmon Kings before being let go with the return of Ellis. Subsequently, the Canucks released his rights just after two years with the organization.
Vincent has spent the past three years toiling in the Central Hockey League and is without a team to start the 2010-11 hockey season.
Could have drafted: C Darren Helm (132rd overall)
Matt Butcher (C) - 5th round, 138th overall
The son of former Canuck Garth Butcher, Matt was unranked by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2005 draft, but that did not stop the Canucks from drafting him. Butcher played locally with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League where in his draft year, he put up 101 points in 57 games. Described as skilled player, the Canucks had hoped that they found a diamond in the rough, but Butcher showed no signs of improvement in his four years in the NCAA at Northern Michigan University.
He dealt with a nagging hip problem in the 2007-08 season that needed surgery in the summer of 2008. He would play one game in 2008-09 before breaking his collarbone, eventually limiting him to just 14 games. Injuries would once again limit Butcher to just 27 games in his last year of college eligibility in 2009-10.
After his college eligibility was up, he was not offered a NHL contract from the Canucks nor was he invited to prospects camp. He was released as a free agent on August 15, 2010 and without a contract, he turned pro with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.
Could have drafted: C Cal O'Reilly (150th overall)
Kris Fredheim (D) - 6th round, 185th overall
Ranked 157th overall amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The Canucks hoped he could develop into an "offensive defenceman who jumps up into the play."
Like Butcher, Fredheim was not offered a contract after his college eligibility came to an end. He attended the Canucks prospects camp and played three games in the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton. He impressed the Canucks coaching staff in his first pro camp, but that was not enough to earn a NHL contract with the Canucks.
Fredheim was released and slated to join the Canucks' ECHL affiliate, the Victoria Salmon Kings, but decided to tryout for the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild's AHL affiliate. Fredheim recently signed an AHL contract with the Aeros.
Could have drafted: F Matt D'Agostini (190th overall)
Mario Bliznak (C) - 7th round, 205th overall
The only European taken by the Canucks in 2005, Bliznak was the 34th ranked European skater. He was described by scouts at the time of the draft as a potential solid two-way, third line centre with faceoff ability. After his draft year, he would spend the next three years with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League where he would be an integral piece of the Memorial Cup winning 2006-07 team.
Bliznak turned pro in 2008-09 with the Canucks AHL' affiliate the Manitoba Moose and has spent the three years developing into a shutdown centre. He has improved his point totals in each of his two seasons so far with the Moose. He picked up 13 goals and 28 points in the 2009-10 campaign, up from the 7 goals and 16 points in his first year. This year he is on pace for a 9 goals and 37 points.
In his 6 career games in the NHL, Bliznak has shown he is a capable fourth line centre at this point in his career, but can he develop the scoring prowess to become a third line centre? He has the ability to make decisions with the puck at high speeds, read plays, get into the shooting and passing lanes, but his faceoff ability needs some work, whether that is not knowing the tendencies of NHL faceoff men or the need to get stronger. He was a dismal 33.3 percent in four games with the Canucks this season.
Could have drafted: D Kyle Cumiskey (222nd overall)