We’ve made it, Canucks fans. The wait of an eternity is almost over and hockey will be back soon. For those counting, it’s been 143 days down and only 2 to go before our boys take the ice once again (officially).
Training camp has come and gone, producing a few pleasant surprises, including Zack MacEwen. Although he didn’t stand out in Wednesday night’s exhibition loss to the Winnipeg Jets, there is good reason to think he’ll make an impact against Minnesota.
MacEwen is that rare NHLer who has paid his dues through the minors after getting passed over in his draft year and still ended up in the show. Undrafted players make careers out of proving the naysayers wrong. Just ask Martin St. Louis, Adam Oates, or any of the other players who would miraculously become star NHL players after failing to be drafted.
We’ve seen some great potential from MacEwen late in the long-ago regular season and in summer camp, but the jury is still out on if he can join these guys as some of the greatest undrafted Canucks.
Here’s our list of the greatest undrafted Canucks of all-time.
Although he didn’t start his career in Vancouver, Courtnall enjoyed some of the best years of his career playing for the Canucks. Between 1990 and 1995, Courtnall played 292 regular season games for Vancouver, registering 102 goals and 144 assists.
Where the Victoria native made his mark most though, was in the playoffs. Over the course of 65 playoff games on the West Coast, Courtnall put up 61 points.
He also scored one of the most important goals in team history. Although it was only in Game Five of the first round, Courtnall’s OT winner against the Flames sparked the most signature playoff series comeback in team history and possibly, the 1994 run to the Cup Final.
Courtnall fired a slap shot over the glove and into the top left corner of the net, and the rest was history. The Canucks would win 11 of their next 13 games that spring, before getting their hearts broken by the Rangers.
In similar fashion to how he was undrafted, Courtnall’s Vancouver career seems to be a little overlooked. It shouldn’t be, though.
Moving onto another ‘94 hero, Greg Adams was passed over on draft day in 1982. He had quite the peculiar path to the NHL after getting overlooked.
Adams went down to Northern Arizona University to play hockey, where he played two seasons and ended up leading NCAA hockey in scoring in 1983-84. He put up an outrageous 44 goals and 73 points in only 26 games, and NHL scouts started to take notice.
After enjoying some productive years with the New Jersey Devils in his first few seasons, Adams came to Vancouver. Another former Canuck who most of the fan base looks over, Adams scored 179 goals and 389 points in 489 games over 8 seasons.
Although he potted 30 goals in two separate seasons with the Canucks, what he will always be remembered for was his famous goal on a night in May of 1994.
“GREG ADAMS!! GREG ADAMS!!!” Straight from the voice of Jim Robson, straight into Vancouver lore forever.
We all knew the Dragon Slayer would be featured on this list. We also all know what Burr did in his prime with Vancouver, as he became one of the most interesting and fun players to watch in team history. What you may not know though, is Burrows’ winding development path before coming to the Canucks.
The Quebecer missed out on getting drafted in the early 2000s,when playing two years in the QMJHL with Shawnigan. When he didn’t get any interest from the NHL or even AHL, the ECHL came calling.
Burrows played the next two seasons with some of the minorest of minor league teams. They were: the Greenville Grrrowl (yes, that’s two Rs too many), the Baton Rouge Kingfish, and the Columbia Inferno, all in the East Coast league.
His performance in the ECHL was good enough to get him a roster spot on the Manitoba Moose, the old Canucks’ farm club. Marc Crawford took a chance on him in January of ‘06, and the rest was history.
822 games, 384 points, two playoff series winners, and plenty of free real estate in the heads of opponents later, Burr is deservedly in the Canucks’ Ring of Honour.
Back to ZackMac
So what do Courtnall, Adams, and Burrows have in common that the Prince Edward Islander could join in on this summer?
Well, do the math. They are the only undrafted Canucks (outside of the Brabarian, Jeff Cowan, of course) to score overtime goals in the playoffs. We’ll find out if MacEwen will join that list over the next few weeks.
Until then, we anxiously wait for the magical night that will be Sunday. Canucks playoff hockey is back.