The Starting Six series comes to you to dive into the best player at each position all-time for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Vancouver Canucks all-time lineup.
Starting Six: Vancouver Canucks All-Time Lineup
The Vancouver Canucks don’t necessarily have a history rich with elite talent, having never won a Stanley Cup since their arrival in 1970. However, while not particularly deep in franchise-caliber talent, there have been a handful of players that could be considered among the best of their eras, and those players make up the Canucks all-time lineup.
Centre: Henrik Sedin (2001-Present)
Henrik Sedin, current captain of the team, is regarded by many as the greatest player to ever don the Canucks jersey. Since being drafted third overall in 1999, Sedin has accumulated a long list of accolades and accomplishments, all as a member of the Canucks.
He sits as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, as well the first Canuck to reach 1,000 career points, with 1,021 points in 1,248 career contests. He sits 35 points ahead of second place, which belongs to his twin brother, Daniel Sedin.
On a league-wide level, Sedin sits at 34th on the all-time assists list with 783, and 81st on the all-time points list. In 2009-10, he took the league by storm, winning the Art Ross Trophy with 112 points (which holds up as the franchise’s single-season points record), as well as the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player to his team. He is a two-time winner of the Cyclone Taylor Trophy as the fan-voted team MVP, and is a six-time leading scorer of the club.
Sedin has served as captain of the club since taking over from goaltender Roberto Luongo in 2010, and led the team to a Stanley Cup Final berth in 2011. Additionally, he is the franchise leader in games played, and has participated in three NHL All-Star games (2008, 2011, and 2012). On top of all that, Sedin has been named to the league’s First All-Star Team twice (in 2010 and 2011).
On the international level, Henrik won an Olympic gold medal in 2006 with Team Sweden, and won the IIHF World Championship in 2013 as well as taking home bronze medals in 1999 and 2001 at the same tournament. Sedin boasts an incredible resume on all fronts, and when all is said and done, will very likely be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Left Wing: Daniel Sedin (2001-Present)
Like his aforementioned brother Henrik, Daniel Sedin was an easy selection. There is an argument to be made that Daniel, drafted second overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, is the greatest Canuck of all time. Sedin, 36, sits as the franchise’s all-time goal scoring leader with 370, 24 ahead of second place Markus Naslund.
Over the course of his decorated career, Sedin has put up 986 points in 1,225 contests, good for second all-time for the franchise (behind his brother). He will comfortably hit 1,000 points in the 2017-18 season, barring any major injury, and will push 400 goals (he currently sits at 370).
In 2010-11, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer with 104 points, as well as the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s best player as voted by his peers, the second Canuck to win it after Naslund in 2002-03. He was additionally nominated for the Hart Trophy, losing to Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, and was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team. That same year, he was part of the Canucks team that made it to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, scoring 20 points in 25 games over the course of that run.
Sedin also ranks third all-time in Canucks playoff scoring behind his brother, as well as Trevor Linden, managing 71 points in 102 games. He has played in the NHL All-Star Game three times – 2011, 2012, and 2016 – and has led the Canucks in scoring four times – in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015. In 2011, he won the Cyclone Taylor award as the club’s most valuable player for the season.
On the international stage, he has won Olympic gold and silver medals in 2006 and 2014 respectively, and is a gold and bronze medal winner at the World Hockey Championship in 2013, and 1999 and 2001 respectively. Despite no Stanley Cup at this point of his career, Sedin appears a strong candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame after retirement, and will absolutely go down as one of the most important Canucks in the history of the franchise.
Right Wing: Pavel Bure (1991-1998)
Despite a relatively short tenure in Vancouver compared to some of his peers, Bure made his impact felt. Nicknamed the “Russian Rocket”, Bure is known as one of the most electric players to ever play for the franchise, and is the first player to make the Hockey Hall of Fame with the identity of being a Canuck. Over the course of 428 games with the team, he put up 478 points and 254 goals, which rank seventh and fifth in their respective categories.
The Canucks selected Bure in the sixth round, 113th overall, of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft to much controversy. Many argued that the Canucks had taken Bure a year prior to his eligibility. After a year of legal procedures, the pick was upheld, and Bure made his debut on November 3rd, 1991. Over the course of his first season, Bure managed a remarkable 34 goals and 60 points in 69 games, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s most outstanding rookie. Bure’s Calder win, along with Pat Quinn‘s Jack Adams victory for the league’s top coach that same year, was the first individual award to ever be won by a Canuck.
Bure peaked over the next two seasons, putting up two consecutive 60-goal campaigns in 1992-93 and 1993-94. Those same two years, he managed 110 and 107 points respectively, the two most productive seasons of his career. His 110 points held up as the franchise’s single-season points record until it was broken by Henrik Sedin’s 112 in 2009-10.
He was a key member of the 1994 Canucks roster that got got to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers, before falling just short. Over 24 playoff contests that year, Bure scored 31 points in 24 games, and ranks fourth all-time in Canucks playoff scoring with 66 points in 60 games.
Unfortunately, knee injuries and a lockout in 1994-95 would limit Bure to just 122 games over the next three seasons, before scoring 51 goals and 90 points in a full 82 game season in 1997-98. Following the 1997-98 campaign, Bure declared that he would not be returning to the Canucks in 1998-99 for personal reasons. He was eventually dealt to the Florida Panthers along with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference and a third-round pick for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and a first-round pick.
Despite this less-than-perfect ending Bure had a remarkable and memorable run with the Canucks that eventually led to his jersey retirement in late 2013. Bure undoubtedly goes down as one of, if not the most, talented player to wear the Canucks jersey, as well as one of the most exciting.
Left Defenseman: Ed Jovanovski (1998-2006)
Ed Jovanovski was acquired from the Florida Panthers in the Bure blockbuster of 1999, and proceeded to define himself as arguably the best defender in franchise history. Throughout his seven seasons in Vancouver, Jovanovski accumulated 234 points 434 games, which ranks him ninth all-time. Additionally, he ranks third all-time in points-per-game among those with at least 400 games played at 0.539.
Jovanovski led all Canucks blue liners in scoring for four consecutive seasons between 1999-00 and 2002-03, with point totals of 26, 47, 48, and 46. He also won three consecutive Babe Pratt Trophies as the team’s top defenceman, and was named to three straight NHL All-Star Games. In 2001-02, Jovanovski put up a career-high 17 goals, which also ranked second among all NHL blue liners that year.
Jovanovski also won an Olympic gold medal in 2002, and finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting in both 2001-02 and 2002-03. Additionally, Jovanovski put up over 100 penalty minutes in three consecutive seasons with the Canucks from 2000-01 to 2002-03, accumulating 102, 101, and 113.
While most argue that the Canucks have yet to boast a true “franchise” defenseman over the course of their history, there is a case to be made that Jovanovski is the closest thing they’ve had.
Right Defenseman: Mattias Ohlund (1997-2009)
Mattias Ohlund is widely regarded as the best defender in the history of the Canucks franchise, and with good reason. Drafted 13th overall by the club in 1994, Ohlund is the franchise’s all-time scoring leader among defensemen, with 325 points. He also ranks first in goals with 93, and second in games played with 770, behind only Harold Snepsts‘ 781.
Ohlund is a four-time winner of the Babe Pratt Trophy as the team’s top defenseman, winning in 1998, 2000, 2004, and 2006. In 1997-98, Ohlund finished second in Calder Trophy voting, losing to Sergei Samsonov of the Boston Bruins. Ohlund was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1998, and participated in the 1999 NHL All-Star Game.
Recently inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour, the second defenceman to receive the honor behind Snepsts, Ohlund played a strong all-round game and excelled in all aspects of the game. Ohlund, by all measures, is among the most effective blue liners in the history of the Canucks, and is worthy of the top rank among right handed defensemen in franchise history.
Goaltender: Roberto Luongo (2006-2014)
The best goaltender in franchise history, by just about every measure, could make a case for himself as the best overall Canuck. Luongo, acquired from the Florida Panthers along with Lukas Krajicek and a 6th round pick for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld, is among the most decorated Canucks of all time.
During his time in Vancouver, Luongo became the franchise’s all-time leader in wins with 252, 41 more than second place Kirk McLean, as well as shutouts, with 38, 18 more than McLean. He ranks second in games played with 448, as well as playoff wins with 32.
In 2006-07, Luongo was nominated for both the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender and the Hart Trophy, finishing second in both races. That same year, he was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. On a team level, Luongo is a two-time winner of the Cyclone Taylor award as the team’s most valuable player (2007 and 2008), took home the Most Exciting Player Award in 2007, and was named team captain from 2008-2010.
Luongo was arguably the club’s most valuable player during the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Final, and earned himself another Vezina nomination (his third overall) that same year. Furthermore, Luongo, along with then-backup Cory Schneider, took home the Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed over the course of the season. On the international level, Luongo took home two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 as a member of the Canucks.
When all is said and done, Luongo’s name will be in the jersey retirement discussion in Vancouver, and appears a safe bet for Hall of Fame consideration upon his retirement.
Honourable Mentions: Trevor Linden (C), Markus Naslund (LW), Jyrki Lumme (LD), Kirk McLean (G)