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Fun With Numbers

Monday, 18.06.2007 / 5:08 PM / Features
By Jeff Paterson

Barring a trade prior to their first round pick on Friday in Columbus, the Vancouver Canucks will likely grab a grinding winger from the Ontario Hockey League with the 25th overall selection.

He’ll probably be long on character and somewhat challenged in the skill department, but the one intangible he will bring to the West Coast is the fact he stands a pretty good chance of winning a Stanley Cup.

A quick check of the past 25 guys who’ve been drafted in that 25th position reveals that 10 of them have played the wing and that eight have been chosen from the ranks of Ontario junior hockey. Along with 10 wingers, that 25th position has yielded seven centres, five defencemen and three goaltenders.

Nearly two-thirds of the players have come from major junior hockey (OHL 7, WHL and QMJHL 4 each, Russia 3, US College 2, US High School 2, Canadian Jr. A 1, Czech Republic 1 and last year, at GM Place, St. Louis made Patrik Berglund the lone Swede of the past quarter-century to be selected 25th overall).

Of the past 25 players taken in the 25th spot, Stephane Matteau (a 1987 first round selection of the Calgary Flames) has been the most-productive scoring a modest 144 goals over his solid 13 year National Hockey League career. But Matteau, as many Canuck fans will recall all too vividly, was a part of that 1994 New York Rangers team that beat Vancouver to win the Cup. And he’s one of five players selected 25th overall since 1982 to get his hands on hockey’s most-coveted prize.

Cam Ward (picked 25th in 2002) and Kevyn Adams (1993) were teammates on the Carolina Hurricanes when they won the Cup in 2006. Jiri Fischer (1998 draft) won his Cup with Detroit in 2002. And Chris Simon (selected 25th by Philadelphia in the 1990 Draft at BC Place Stadium) hoisted the trophy with Colorado in 1996.

While the 25th position has not produced a superstar in the past 25 drafts – Dallas captain Brenden Morrow (1997) is likely the best of the bunch -- every single player taken in that spot has made it to the NHL and managed to play at least one game (with the exception of Berglund (2007) and Andrew Cogliano (Edmonton 2006) who haven’t had the chance yet).

Guys like Matteau, Adams and Simon have all played more than 500 games in the league, but the player Toronto selected 25th back in 1984 had the longest career of anyone taken in that spot since 1982. Todd Gill played 1007 games in the league in a 19-year career that saw him suit up with seven different teams.

At the other end of that spectrum is a guy like Dan Ratushny, Winnipeg’s first round selection in 1989 out of Cornell University and the Canadian National Program. The defenceman played just one game in the NHL and it was as a member of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1992-93 season.

A handful of players chosen 25th in the past 25 years have managed to find their way to Vancouver – Vadim Sharifijanov (New Jersey 1994) and Dave Capuano (Pittsburgh 1986) both joined Ratushny as players chosen 25th by other organizations over the years who suited up for the Canucks.

The only time prior to this year that the Canucks, themselves, held the 25th pick in the draft was back in 1985 when they gambled on a goalie out of Medicine Hat. Troy Gamble managed to play 72 games for the Canucks over four seasons between 1987 and 1992 posting a career record of 20-29-9.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Troy Gamble was taken where he was in the draft more than two decades ago. Because clearly, the 25th pick is – and always has been -- a roll of the dice. It won’t be long now until we find out who joins the list of players selected 25th this year, but it will likely be a while before we know where he fits on that list in terms of the success of his NHL career. The Canucks are certainly hoping it’s right near the top.

LAST 10 PLAYERS SELECTED WITH THE 25TH PICK IN THE NHL DRAFT

2006 – ST. LOUIS PATRIK BERGLUND, C, SWEDEN
2005 – EDMONTON ANDREW COGLIANO, C, ST. MIKE’S
2004 – EDMONTON ROB SCHREMP, C, LONDON
2003 – FLORIDA ANTHONY STEWART, C, KINGSTON
2002 – CAROLINA CAM WARD, G, RED DEER
2001 – MONTREAL ALEXANDER PEREZHOGIN, C, RUSSIA
2000 – DALLAS STEVE OTT, C, WINDSOR
1999 – COLORADO MIKHAIL KULESHOV, LW, RUSSIA
1998 – DETROIT JIRI FISCHER, D, HULL
1997 – DALLAS BRENDEN MORROW, LW, PORTLAND


Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at jeff.paterson@team1040.ca