Canucks Podcast with Josh and Brian: http://soundcloud.com/josh-statham/brian-wiebe-segment
In the spirit of The Hockey News’ Top 20 by position I was inspired to compile a top 20 for forgotten prospects – sort of a misfits Island from the Rudolph Christmas Special.
20 – Daultan Leveille – The Jr B experiment has yet to net double digits in goals in a single season with Michigan State. Taken just ahead of Jakob Markstrom and Vyacheslav Voynov.
19 – Oscar Moller – Swedish prospect jumped the puddle to hone his skills in the WHL where his gaudy numbers had Kings fans salivating at the prospect of seeing him in Gold and Purple…or black and white…or with a playing card for a uniform, or whatever logo the Kings cook up next. He was rushed to the NHL straight from Jr. and then ran home to Sweden.
18 – Chet Pickard – Is sporting a svelt 2.05 GAA….for the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones, taken ahead of fellow puckstops Jake Allen, Jakob Markstrom and (for what it’s worth) Thomas McCollum.
17 – Logan McMillan – The Other Logan of the 2007 draft didn’t even really have first round numbers even in the Q so it’s no surprise he hasn’t panned out.
16 – Jack Skille – This product of the USNTDP experienced early success with an NCAA championship and World Junior Silver but has since been traded. It looks like the revamped Panthers might be a good fit for him.
15 – Zach Hammil – By the time he was drafted he had played three full WHL seasons, notching an impressive 93 points in the 2006-07 campaign with Everett, the year he was taken 6th by the Bruins. His fading in to obscurity was almost immediate as his points totals dropped significantly the very next season. He had the great misfortune of being selected directly ahead of Logan Couture.
14 – Bobby Sanguinetti – A near point-per-game effort in his draft year rocketed this d-man up the draft rankings but he’s yet to crack even New York’s paper thin blue line despite having one of the most amazing names in the history of hockey…nay sports.
13 – Kendall McCardle – Tabbed with the 20th pick in the 2005 draft we first heard of McCardle and his inspiring story of overcoming the adversity of being partially deaf as a part of a stacked World Junior team. He’s in Winnipeg now after an up and down tenure with Florida.
12 – Riley Nash – The Oil used their third pick of the first round in 2007 to select Riley out of Jr. A. Sadly Sam Gagner, taken sixth that year, was the prize of their draft day – unless Alex Plante is the next Larry Robinson. Going 0 for three with a trio of picks between 6 and 21??? Someone got fired.
11 – Leyland Irving – It’s tough to include goalies on this list as they tend to take more time to mature. Irving is stuck so far down the depth chart in Calgary that not even consistently .900+ numbers weren’t enough to keep him in the AHL. He did re-up with CGY this offseason and has a stellar .944 save percentage with the Heat.
10 – Ivan Vishnevsky – This sturdy Russian defender had great offensive numbers in three seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. He’s got a couple assists this year with Moscow Oblast Atlant of the KHL. He might make the big time if the NHL ever had a team with three names.
9 – Robert Nilsson – This guy has seen more leagues than Captain Ahab, spending time (chronologically) in the: Swedish Elite League, Swiss A-League, Swe-1, NHL, AHL and KHL. The Islanders were extatic to nab him at 15th in the famous 2003 draft, but it was a short honeymoon. The 21 points he posted as a young rookie in the Swedish Elite League turned to 6 the year after he was drafted...it's been mostly downhill from there.
8 – Patrick O’Sullivan –For all the grand slams in the 2003 draft there were just as many busts. Patrick O’Sullivan had a stellar OHL career. He put up an astounding 93 points in his first year as a pro in the AHL and had a very respectable 53 points playing all 82 games in his first full season with LA. He has since returned to the team that originally drafted him 56th, the Minnesota Wild, but has also spent time in Carolina, Edmonton and is now trying to hit his stride with Phoenix.
7 – Hugh Jessiman – The Rangers had Jessiman ranked as the fourth overall prospect in the 2003 draft, so naturally when he was available with the 12th pick they jumped all over him. The 6’6” winger was ECAC rookie of the year with Dartmouth but his production fell of drastically after an injury, then he turned pro bouncing between the ECHL and AHL; he even tried boxing in order to better utilize his size, but to no avail. He has since been dealt to the Panthers. Too bad Slats didn’t think too highly of Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Cory Perry, Patrice Bergeron or any of the other franchise players taken behind him in one of the best draft years ever.
6 - Patrick White – might be the worst first rounder of all time. He would rank much higher on this list if he had in fact been drafted even earlier than 25th by the Canucks in 2007. He was since traded to the Sharks to offset San Jose’s salary dump, and has concluded an unceremonious NCAA career by recently joining some obscure league in Germany. And who went 26th that year you ask? David Perron.
5 - Thomas Hickey – Probably the most shockingly high pick since the Isles tabbed Rick Dipietro first overall. Hickey came out of nowhere, briefly, when he was taken fourth in 2007 by LA – he has apparently since receded back in to that nowhere he came from. He was at the time considered more attractive to Kings talent scouts then Karl Alzner selected directly behind him.
4 – Marek Schwarz – This guy had an amazing World Junior tournament, good enough to be a high first round pick in 2004. He has 38 saves to his credit over six appearances in the show, bouncing between the NHL and AHL, then down to the Alaska Aces of the ECHL in a crouded crease situation in St. Louis and has finally left the continent for the SM-Liiga.
3 – Chris Borque – It must be tough to be the son of one of the game’s greatest d-men. Chris, the young borque is a forward in Washington’s system. They selected him 33rd in 2004 and he has since played in the KHL, Switzerland, and briefly for the Penguins before returning to the Caps. He has amazing AHL numbers, including 8 points in 4 games to start this season. How could someone so good not deserve a shot even on a loaded Capitals team?
2 – Angelo Esposito – Once considered a lock for the top selection in the 2007 draft Angelo was a victim of his own early success. A 98 point campaign in 2006 left far too much time for scouts to nit-pick his game before draft day – coupled with inexplicable snubs by Team Canada and a knee injury he slid to 20th.
1 – Gilbert Brule – The gritty Vancouver Giants product who showed a knack for scoring in junior hasn’t found a home in the NHL yet. Heck, LA GM Dean Lombardi took an injured Colin Fraser over him. He was arguably stifled in Columbus under Ken Hitchcock and showed flashes of his ability with the Oil, but not enough to keep him with the big club; he’s been sent back to the AHL again.
Canucks podcast with Josh and Brian: http://soundcloud.com/josh-statham/brian-wiebe-segment