Vancouver Canucks: 5 Worst Draft Picks in Franchise History

Elizabeth MoffatContributor IJuly 30, 2011

Vancouver Canucks: 5 Worst Draft Picks in Franchise History

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    Scouting out which 18-year-olds have what it takes to become an NHL star is hardly an exact science.

    Even if they have spent a few years in juniors, these guys are still high-school kids. It`s not easy judging how they’ll develop in the next few years.

    Try it, go find your old yearbook. Has that guy you voted `most likely to be the next Bill Gates’ made his billions yet? Exactly.

    Still, we expect more from hockey scouts who get paid to do this.

    Which is why we’re here to grimace at the picks that made Canucks fans shake their heads in shame: Introducing the five worst draft picks in Canucks history.

5. Alek Stojanov

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    Alek Stojanov gained a solid reputation among scouts in juniors for his combination of being a solid scorer and a fearsome brute. He was known for pummelling other players, including first-overall pick Eric Lindros.

    The right winger has an unusual relationship with Canucks fans. On one hand, the seventh-overall pick was a classic draft bust. In two seasons with the Canucks, he only managed one assist, but on the other hand, trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins brought us Markus Naslund.

    Stojanov would go on to score two goals in 45 games with Pittsburgh. Naslund, meanwhile, played 12 more years with the Canucks and saw his jersey lifted to the rafters.

    Compared to some of the other players on this list, Stojanov doesn’t seem all that bad. He did play in over 100 NHL games, but when you compare him to his 1991 draft class, in which Glen Murray, Alexei Kovalev and Brian Rolston were all selected after him, you see why the Canucks couldn’t have righted that mistake soon enough.

4. Marc-Andre Bernier

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    Right winger Marc-Andre Bernier was the Canucks second-round pick in 2003, going 60th overall. He spent two partial seasons in the AHL, recording a total of two points before being shipped off to the ECHL. In 2008, he was signed by the Edmonton Oilers, but could not crack their roster either. You can now find him playing in France, where he led his team in points in 2009-10.

    To be fair, Bernier was taken late in the second round, not exactly a place where magic happens, but the Canucks could have taken finger-taunting bad boy Maxim Lapierre, who made it to Vancouver anyway, or David Backes, who just finished a second 50-plus point season with the St. Louis Blues.

    Still, 2003 brought us Ryan Kesler, so no harm done, unlike some of our other entrants

3. Jason Herter

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    After being drafted eighth overall by Vancouver in 1989, Jason Herter went on to play in a grand total of one NHL game.

    Years later, Vancouver fans still remember him, not because he was the only bust that year, but because of how much promise the Canadian boy showed in a city that had not seen a winning team in years.

    At the time, Herder had a bright future in the game. He won gold with Team Canada in the 1990 World Junior Championship, and in the 1990 Goodwill Games.

    Plagued by repeated groin injuries, however, Herter would never achieve the same success in league play. He limped through two injured seasons on Canucks farm teams before signing with the New York Islanders, with whom he played one game and recorded his only NHL point.

    Despite some limited success in the IHL, he never cracked another NHL roster.

    So what happened? Years later he admitted to the Vancouver Province that he simply hadn’t tried hard enough.

    “I was that talented guy, and it was my blessing and my downfall,” he said. “I just took everything for granted. And when I had to fight for a spot, I didn't know how to react.”

    He now coaches the Fargo Force of the USHL, and tries to convince his young players that just being good won’t get them to the big leagues.

2. Dan Woodley

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    Dan Woodley was selected seventh overall in the 1986 draft.  Unlike some other draft picks on the list, he did suit up for the Canucks for five games, and he even scored two goals.

    He was a disappointment not only due to the promise he displayed (he helped lead the Portland Winter Hawks to the 1986 Memorial Cup Final and recorded 66 points in his first IHL season), but also because of how he compares to the rest of his draft class.

    Of the top 15 draft picks, Woodley was the only one to play less than 20 NHL games. If that wasn’t enough, the Canucks also picked Woodley over future stars Brian Leetch and Scott Young, both of whom would go on to play over 1,000 NHL games and record a combined 1,784 points.

    In 1988, Woodley was traded to the Montreal Canadians in exchange for Jose Charbonneau, who unfortunately, did not fare much better, recording 16 points over three seasons.

1. Libor Polasek

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    Czech Republic native Libor Polasek may be one of the most disappointing first-round draft picks of all time.  Not only has the 6'0" center never scored a goal in the NHL, he never even suited up for a game.

    Polasek couldn’t even make an impact in the AHL. After two seasons with the Hamilton Canucks, he had only 18 goals to his name.

    After a quick stint in the ECHL, he tried again with a new Canucks farm team, the Syracuse Crunch, but he would only score two more goals in 53 games.

    In 1995, Polasek left North America to play in the Czech league for the remainder of his career, but he would never record more than 20 points a season.

    Basically, a first-round failure and another name for Canucks fans to quietly curse as they sob into their beers.