The Vancouver Canucks refused to trade defenseman Alex Edler at the trade deadline and that may very well affect them in the short-term. Heaven knows, they certainly could have used the offensive help down the stretch and in the playoffs, if they qualify, that is.
But in the long-term, the 21-year-old is showing all the signs of being a stalwart defenseman at the NHL level. It was largely because of his presence that the Canucks’ young players and prospects were recently ranked No. 18 in the NHL by The Hockey News in our annual Future Watch edition.
Edler is the only 21-or-under regular on the Canucks' roster this season, but his surprisingly solid play has a lot of people taking notice. And while the Canucks certainly aren't brimming with depth and talent in their organization, they have a decent stable of up-and-comers who should be able to develop into serviceable players.
Topping the list of Canuck players outside the NHL is defenseman Luc Bourdon, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft. After a sterling junior career, the 21-year-old Bourdon has endured the predictable ups and downs associated with adapting to pro hockey. There is no doubting his skills, but he needs to get a better read of the game.
THN also ranks the top 100 individual prospects outside the NHL in this issue and Bourdon came in at No. 20.
Next for the Canucks is Mason Raymond, who was ranked as the 28th-best prospect outside the NHL. The speedy left winger has spent much of the season shuttling between Winnipeg and Vancouver and has impressed the Canucks every time he has made the step to the NHL level.
Goalie Cory Schneider, who was also sought after by many teams at the deadline, is third on the Canucks' list and No. 75 overall. After a promising career at Boston College, Schneider has struggled at the pro level and many times has found himself as the backup goalie for the Manitoba Moose.
Right winger Michael Grabner checks in at No. 4 for the Canucks after posting some impressive offensive totals in his first pro season. The Austrian-born winger has also had his trials and tribulations adjusting to professional hockey.
Right winger Jannik Hansen, the No. 5 Canucks' prospect, had a terrific training camp for Vancouver, but broke his wrist in the pre-season, then suffered a concussion with the Moose. But when he has played, he has shown promise.
The good thing about the Canucks' situation is their top five prospects are all in their early 20's and getting valuable experience at the American League level. Many times the biggest adjustment a player faces isn't from the AHL to the NHL, but in going from junior, college or European hockey to the AHL.
THN's Future Watch is currently on newsstands and can also be ordered at THN.com.
This column also appears in the Vancouver Metro Newspaper.
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