In honour of Vancouver and Buffalo celebrating their 40th year in the NHL, I am going to select their respective franchise All-Time squads. Today we look at the Canucks.
There are many obvious choices, it's when we get deeper that some tougher decisions arise.
Players listed in order followed by GP-G-A-PTS
1st Henrik Sedin 728-138-434-572
2nd Thomas Gradin 613-197-353-550
3rd Patrik Sundstrom 374-133-209-342
4th Cliff Ronning 366-112-216-328
Having won the franchise's first and only Hart Trophy, "Hank" Sedin is the easy choice for top centreman. Fellow Swede, Gradin had a nice run in the early 1980's topping out twice at 86 points. The Canucks have obviously done well with Swedish centres as Sundstrom ranks as their third best ever. He tallied 38 goals and 91 points in '83/'84. The fourth slot comes down to Brendan Morrison and Cliff Ronning, with Ronning's five plus seasons including 85 points in '92/'93 topping B-Mo's seven plus seasons of consistent if unspectacular play.
1st Pavel Bure 428-254-224-478
2nd Trevor Linden 1140-318-415-733
3rd Stan Smyl 896-262-411-673
4th Tony Tanti 531-250-220-470
Bure gets the top pick over franchise games played leader Linden. Bure not only has by far the top goals per game rate at 0.59 (second is Tanti at 0.47) but he is also the only Canuck to have scored at least one point per game over his career. Linden ranks second overall in franchise goals and points to Markus Naslund, and is an easy choice for second RW. Smyl three times scored over 30 goals and had 88 points in '82/'83. Tony Tanti takes fourth over Todd Bertuzzi and Alex Mogilny on the strength of five consecutive seasons scoring between 39 and 45 goals. Bertuzzi really had only two very good years although one resulted in a first team All-Star selection. Mogilny as well had a brief period of Canuck greatness with a second team All-Star pick in '95/'96.
1st Markus Naslund 884-346-410-756
2nd Daniel Sedin 705-208-339-547
3rd Don Lever 593-186-221-407
4th Andre Boudrias 458-121-267-388
Franchise leader in goals and points makes Naslund an easy selection for top Canuck LW all-time. Perhaps Daniel Sedin will overtake the top spot in years to come if he continues his second all-star team play of last year. Lever's eight years with Vancouver included a 38 goal campaign in '74/'75. Boudrias' 62 assists in the same year still rank as the third most in one Canuck season.
1st Mattias Ohlund 770-93-232-325
2nd Jyrki Lumme 579-83-238-321
3rd Dennis Kearns 677-31-290-321
4th Ed Jovanovski 434-57-177-234
5th Doug Lidster 666-65-242-307
6th Harold Snepsts 781-35-160-195
7th Rick Lanz 417-56-171-227
8th Sami Salo 470-62-142-204
9th Paul Reinhart 131-24-90-114
Obviously the weakest position over the course of the Canucks history as they never really have had a veritable top-flight defenseman for any length of time. Their most talented defender may very well have been Paul Reinhart who had back to back 57 point years in the late '80s while missing 29 games over the two seasons. If not for injuries, Reinhart may not have been merely one of the top Canuck defensemen ever, but perhaps a Hall of Famer. Over his 11 seasons he missed 232 games to injuries yet his 0.86 career points per game rank sixth all-time among defensemen.
1st Kirk McLean 211-228-62, 3.28
2nd Roberto Luongo 155-86-26, 2.39
3rd Richard Brodeur 126-173-62, 3.87
4th Dan Cloutier 109-68-24, 2.42
For now McLean holds top spot over Luongo, perhaps for only another season or two. Captain Kirk's 1991/92 season may even rank ahead of Luongo's best as a Canuck. His 38-17-9 record with a league leading 5 shutouts and 2.74 average was good for a second team All-Star selection. Luongo's '06/'07 record of 47-22-6 and 2.29 average also garnered a second team pick.
Using the old favourite Adjusted Goals, Bobby Lu's Adjusted GAA of 2.46 only slightly bests McLeans season Adjusted average of 2.54. Richard Brodeur had a similarly terrific Adjusted GAA of 2.53 in '81/'82 and easily ranks as the third best Canuck goalie ever.
Next we'll look at the Buffalo Sabres 40th anniversary all-time squad.