Since there's no hockey actively happening, we thought we’d spend time burrowing through the NHL’s archives and bring you a ranking of the best Vancouver Canucks who also played for each other NHL team. We will only be ranking the players based on the time they spent with the two teams in question. Where possible, we’ll try and not double up on players. But be warned, that’s going to happen occasionally.
It must be nice for Anaheim Ducks’ fans to have their club at the top of every list of the “let’s go through every team” exercises that get done periodically in the summer (and figure to happen very frequently now).
And this list is no different.
The Canucks and Ducks have quite the shared history (bet you can guess who’s number one) and it’ll be interesting to see how the Ducks compare to the other squads (particularly those who have longevity in the league) when this list is complete. Even though they haven’t been in the league very long, the team still has some pretty strong connections to the Canucks.
Before we get to the top five, here are some honourable mentions that just missed the cut:
Involved in two of the more notorious trades in recent Vancouver Canucks history, Bonino was part of the packages moved for both Ryan Kesler and Brandon Sutter.
He ended up registering 121 points in 264 games for the clubs combined. But that pales in comparison to his production with other clubs that he’s better known for his time with, like the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won two Stanley Cups.
Did Bryan Allen ever return the value you’d hope to retain out of a fourth overall pick? No, he did not.
But the massive defenceman did manage to be something of a serviceable rearguard for a large chunk of his career. (And let’s be honest, the 1998 draft wasn’t exactly a treasure trove of future NHL talent.)
These two teams bookended Allen’s career somewhat, as he started out with the Canucks before playing three seasons with Anaheim near the tail end of his NHL tenure. He ultimately finished it split between the Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.
The Edmonton native had finally played himself onto the Vancouver Canucks’ roster during the 1992-93 season, even getting in some playoff games as the team went two rounds deep. Of course, they would go on a longer run the following year. But Valk was nowhere to be found, having been selected by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the expansion draft.
So while Valk put up a career high 45 points in 1993-94, it couldn’t have bene fun watching his teammates march towards the Stanley Cup Final. Valk would be a passenger on some floundering Ducks teams for the next four years. Eventually, he would get to experience some playoff hockey while on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
And the top five:
5. Ryan Miller – 221 GP, 93 wins
Late-career Ryan Miller doesn’t get a ton of credit, but he’s been decent for most of the last six seasons in which he’s played exclusively for the Canucks and Ducks.
Of course, he was almost too good for the Canucks in the three campaigns he spent with the team, preventing them from completely bottoming out (which some would argue they needed to do at the time). On Anaheim he’s been a capable backup for John Gibson, even putting up a .928 save percentage in his first year with the team.
4. Samuel Pahlsson – 546 GP, 147 pts
Pahlsson was never a spectacular NHLer, but he was a great Anaheim Duck.
Anyone who was ingesting hockey content during the Ducks’ playoff run of 2007 surely heard about how his checking line with Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen just clamped down the opposing team’s stars. And it wasn’t all conjecture—Pahlsson put up 12 points in 21 games during that run and was generally frustrating to play against.
He was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2012 trade deadline to do the same for what many believed was a Cup contender. It didn't go as planned, obviously, and Pahlsson put up six points in 19 regular season games and one goal in five playoff contests before going to Sweden to play professionally for the next three years.
But it’s Pahlsson’s consistently solid tenure with the Ducks that gets him on this list.
3. Todd Bertuzzi – 586 GP, 489 pts/ Brendan Morrison – 523 GP, 415 pts
OK, this is a bit of a cheat. And yes, we also forgot that both these members of the West Coast Express also played for the Ducks. But we decided to lump them together because their careers with both organizations were quite similar.
Yes, Bertuzzi had more success as a Canuck, but both produced at a high level with Vancouver before spending just one (underwhelming) season as a Duck.
In Morrison’s case, Anaheim was his first post-Vancouver stop. The same offseason his running mate Markus Naslund decided to head to New York, Morrison chose to sign a one-year deal with the Ducks, where he put up 22 points in 62 games, the lowest point-per-game rate of his career. He was eventually waived by the Ducks before the season was over and was claimed by the Dallas Stars the next day, where he scored nine points in 19 contests.
Anaheim also more or less signaled the beginning of the end of Bertuzzi’s NHL career. Former Ducks general manager Brian Burke (who had Bertuzzi in Vancouver) signed Big Bert to a two year deal after an injury-riddled 2006-07 campaign. He put up a respectable 40 points in 68 games with the Ducks but was waived at the end of the season due to what Burke called cap concerns.
2. Kevin Bieksa – 808 GP, 278 pts
The top two players in this ranking have only played for the Canucks and Ducks in their NHL careers, and while both will be more remembered as the former than the latter, they showed respectably in both places.
After 10 seasons with the Canucks, Bieksa was traded in the summer of 2015 for a second round pick (which became Pittsburgh’s selection of goaltender Filip Gustavsson).
He’d go on to play three more campaigns with the Ducks and this season showed his prowess as a broadcaster. There’s some debate around how the recent slew of retired former Canucks will be honoured by the team, but Bieksa is certainly one of the contenders to be the next player to be inducted into the Ring of Honour.
1. Ryan Kesler - 1001 GP, 573 pts
Another one of those contenders? Ryan Kesler.
Eighteenth on the Ducks in all-time points and 12th on the Canucks, Kesler is the obvious call for the best player on the combined franchises.
Sure, his Canucks’ tenure didn’t end in storybook fashion, but he’s still one of the more prolific forwards in the team’s history.
And hey, Canucks fans will always have Nashville.
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