Pavel Bure was picked in the sixth round (113th overall) in 1989 by Vancouver. (Robert Laberge /Allsport)
We are going stir-crazy around here, people. THN is getting back on a regular publication schedule, we’ve been releasing our pre-season predictions daily on the website and plans have been made for future stories in print and online. But, alas, we must wait for hockey to actually get going; in some ways we’re spinning our wheels.
But one thing that always stirs up much debate – in and out of the office – is our annual pre-season predictions. The Vancouver Canucks haven’t yet appeared, but will show up in one of the top two spots Thursday morning.
The two-time Cup finalists have had some pretty good players during their first 39 NHL seasons. And this week we pay tribute to the 10 best with THN.com’s Top 10 Canucks of all-time.
10. Harold Snepsts
The mustachioed Snepsts was a loyal soldier for nine years in Vancouver. He doesn’t have flashy numbers, but played more games on the Canucks blueline than anyone else; and did so with a grit and physicality few Vancouver players have since matched.
9. Tony Tanti
Tanti was a gifted goal-scorer for eight-plus seasons in Vancouver during the 1980s. He had a five-season period from 1984 to 1988 in which he scored at least 39 goals and his Canuck career 102 power play markers are second all-time.
8. Kirk McLean
The greatest goalie in franchise history, McLean played 11 years in Vancouver and has far more wins and games played than anyone who’s ever tended goal in that city. A second-team all-star in 1992, he led the Canucks to the Cup final in 1994.
Ohlund spent 11 years as a Canuck; only Snepsts has played more games on the blueline for Vancouver. Ohlund was big, mobile and talented. No D-man in the team’s history has more goals (93) or points (325).
6. Stan Smyl
One of the heart-and-soul players of the 1982 Cup final squad, the diminutive Smyl – he stands just 5-foot-8 – scored 20-plus goals for eight consecutive seasons. He played his entire 13-year career with the Nucks, finishing as the franchise’s all-time scoring leader and longest serving captain. His No. 12 was retired upon his retirement in 1991.
An uber-talented left winger, Naslund potted 25 or more goals eight times during his 11-plus seasons in Vancouver. In the 2000s prior to the lockout, Naslund was one of the league’s most exciting players, winning the Pearson Trophy in 2003 and earning a berth on three first all-star teams. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in both goals (346) and points (756).
The first of the twins to appear here, Daniel is set to join his brother in the team’s top-five scorers of all-time and has a shot at passing Tanti for fifth in goals. His 44 game-winners are just five behind Naslund’s franchise-leading 49 and Sedin has played 179 fewer games.
Classy on and off the ice, Linden was the quintessential Canuck. He played nearly 250 more games in a Vancouver uniform than anyone else and is second in franchise scoring. Chosen No. 2 overall by Vancouver in 1988, he was a Canuck for 10 years before a three-year hiatus with the Canadiens, Islanders and Capitals. He returned to Vancouver in 2001 and played six more seasons before retiring.
Last season’s Art Ross and Hart Trophy-winner gets a boost here for being the only Canuck to win those awards. At just 29, he’ll be third in franchise scoring by season’s end and is already the team’s career plus-minus leader (plus-132). Along with his brother, he looks to be coming into his own.
The most exciting player in franchise history is also its most talented. Bure is the only player in the team’s top-30 career scorers to average better than a point per game (254 goals and 478 points in 428 games). Injuries cost him time on the ice, but Bure still managed to score 60 goals and 100-plus points twice in a Canucks uniform and only Henrik can boast more total points in one season. Bure was one of the most entertaining players to watch in the league’s history during his years with Vancouver.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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