When you’ve missed the playoffs for four years in a row, it stands to reason that your team wasn’t very good (or still isn’t) over that stretch.
So it shouldn’t come as a massive shock that the Canucks don’t have too many former players competing for the Stanley Cup.
Indeed, the numbers are even worse than last year’s, when the Canucks had 12 former players fighting it out in the playoffs.
But maybe there’s quality where there isn’t quantity?
Below is a ranking of how the former Canucks still in the playoff chase did during their time with Vancouver.
10. Taylor Fedun, Dallas Stars
Regular season games with the Canucks: 1
The depth defenceman has played exactly 100 games in the NHL and just one with the Canucks, in 2015-16, where he actually registered an assist. He had a pretty solid season in Utica that year, putting up 33 points in 63 games.
After being up and down the minors for most of his career, it seems that Fedun has found a permanent spot with Dallas. He’s the team’s Masterton Trophy nominee for dedication to the sport this year.
9. Adam Clendening, Columbus Blue Jackets
Regular season games with the Canucks: 17
The veteran rearguard is only 26 years old, but he’s played on seven different NHL teams. His third-longest stint was actually in Vancouver in 2014-15, where he registered two assists.
One of Jim Benning’s original reclamation projects, the Canucks traded Gustav Forsling, who has carved out a role in Chicago, for Clendening, a former second-round draft pick.
The Canucks eventually dealt him to Pittsburgh in the Brandon Sutter deal. He’s played four games for Columbus so far this year and hasn’t appeared in either of the team’s playoff contests.
8. Nic Dowd, Washington Capitals
Regular season games with the Canucks: 40
After being traded for Jordan Subban, Dowd played 40 mostly forgettable games in a trying 2017-18 season for the Canucks. The team was bad, and he wasn’t much better. Having said that, he was about as good as Jay Beagle was this year.
In fact, the Capitals signed Dowd to a three-year extension this year after his solid play (he put up 22 points in 64 games) to replace Beagle. The difference? Dowd will be making $2.25 million over the course of the next three years. Beagle will be making $9 million in the same period.
7. Michael Del Zotto, St. Louis Blues
Regular season games with the Canucks: 105
It’s hard to define Del Zotto’s career with the Canucks as anything more than an underwhelming season and a half. He was one of general manager Jim Benning’s many free agent signings in the summer of 2017. Spoiler: none of them worked out. Least of all Del Zotto, who played 82 games last season for Vancouver and posted some of the worst underlying numbers in the league. He was often scratched out of the lineup this year until he was traded to Anaheim for a late-round draft pick and Luke Schenn.
He was traded again, to St.Louis, where he’s currently in and out of the lineup.
6. Luca Sbisa, New York Islanders
Regular season games with the Canucks: 199
If you think this list is getting a bit depressing, you’re not alone. After three seasons with Vancouver in which Sbisa made a habit out of giving the puck away, he found some short-term success with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s often been a healthy scratch this season and has only one point in nine games with the Islanders.
5. Erik Gudbranson, Pittsburgh Penguins
Regular season games with the Canucks: 139
Everyone knows the Erik Gudbranson story. He remains one of Jim Benning’s signature acquisitions (and not in a good way). Since being dealt at the trade deadline for Tanner Pearson, Guddy has actually played decently well for the Penguins. We’ll see if he can provide any long-term value in Pittsburgh.
4. Jared McCann, Pittsburgh Penguins
Regular season games with the Canucks: 69
The player Gudbranson was originally traded for, McCann fell out of favour with the Canucks as a prospect; rumours that he wasn’t good in the room started to leak out quickly after he was moved.
It was a mistake (obviously) to move on from McCann so quickly, and the Florida Panthers are probably thinking the same thing right now, as they traded him at this year’s trade deadline. He’s been strong for Pittsburgh, putting up 17 points in 32 games.
3. Nick Bonino, Nashville Predators
Regular season games with the Canucks: 75
He was involved in two high profile Canucks trades, coming over in the Ryan Kesler deal and leaving for Brandon Sutter. In between, he scored 39 points in 75 games for Vancouver. Did the Canucks undervalue what they had in Bonino? Well, those 39 points would have been fourth on the team in scoring this year, so yes, probably.
Sutter hasn’t been able to stay healthy; meanwhile Bonino has won two Stanley Cups. He’s currently a productive third-line pivot for Nashville.
2. Yannick Weber, Nashville Predators
Regular season games with the Canucks: 159
Though he's lost somewhat in the annals of history, Weber actually logged quite a few games with the Canucks, and had some solid campaigns. Most notably was 2014-15, where he put up 21 points (including 11 goals) in 65 games. He followed that up with a paltry seven points in 45 contests the next season and was gone to Nashville in the offseason.
He’s managed to be a steady third-pairing blueliner on the Predators for each of the last three seasons.
1. Dan Hamhuis, Nashville Predators
Regular season games with the Canucks: 389
One of the best Canucks defencemen of all-time (seriously, he’s at least in the conversation given the team’s historic dearth at the position), Hamhuis was integral to the team’s 2011 playoff run. He was a steady top-pairing rearguard during his time with Vancouver and stands head and shoulders above everyone else on this list.
Currently, he’s back where his career started in Nashville, plying his trade on the Predators’ bottom pairing (often with his former Canucks teammate Weber).
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