In the inaugural year of the NHL General Manager of the Year Award, Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis took home the hardware.
But with only a pair of significant contributions from Canucks’ prospects (Cory Schneider and Chris Tanev), Gillis won his award primarily on the merits of his offseason free-agent signings and trades.
With the additions of Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Keith Ballard, Victor Oreskovich, and the deadline acquisitions of Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, Vancouver added sandpaper, stability and depth.
And thanks to a slew of long-term injuries throughout the year, Gillis was somehow able to stay below the salary cap (with the help of capologist Laurence Gilman), while adding piece after piece to his Stanley Cup puzzle without losing any major players from his NHL roster.
Although Michael Grabner and a 2010 first-rounder (Quinton Howden) were dealt to Florida in the Ballard trade, Gillis has also managed to improve the Canucks year after year without giving up too many key prospects. So the Canucks still have a fairly deep prospect pool, and the next few years will tell us a lot about Gillis’ drafting and how the scouts have done. The Canucks’ lineup is a hard nut to crack, but good teams work by finding a new infusion from within. Who will it be this year? Cody Hodgson? Darren Archibald? Billy Sweatt?
For now, let’s take a look at the Top 20 Vancouver Canuck Prospects.
*Please also note that this is the first of a four-part article. The ensuing three parts will be posted over the next three days, so please check back in and feel free to comment on who I’ve missed and where my rankings have missed the mark.
*Let me also add a few honourable mentions who I think are intriguing prospects, but due to the prospect depth Gillis has built in the Canucks’ organization have not made the list: Frank Corrado, Sebastien Erixon, Alex Friesen, Ludwig Blomstrand, Brandon Tanev, Prab Rai, Pathrik and Ponthus Westerholm and Henrik Tommernes. A few of these players, bear in mind, are unsigned because they were either 2011 draft picks are prospect camp invites.