NHL draft notes: Vancouver Canucks select Andrew Cassels son Cole in the third round of draft


Vancouver Canucks - Andrew Cassels. 2001 photo from NHL team photo

Vancouver Canucks - Andrew Cassels. 2001 photo from NHL team photo

Photograph by: Handout, PNG archive

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NEWARK, NJ - At 43, Andrew Cassels looks about the same as when he played for the Vancouver Canucks more than a decade ago. But when Cassels' son plays, Cole doesn't look much like his dad.

"He's probably one of the smartest players I've ever seen as far as seeing the ice," Andrew Cassels, the Canucks' silky first-line centre from 1999 to 2002, said Sunday after Vancouver selected Cole in the third round of the National Hockey League draft. "He's got great hands, but he has an edge to him that I didn't have.

"I think Cole knows how hard it is to make it because he grew up with the NHL and moved from Hartford to Vancouver to Calgary to Columbus to Washington. So he knows it's tough."

Cassels, who coaches minor hockey in Columbus, was a first-round draft pick in 1987 and spent 15 NHL seasons with six teams before retiring in Washington in 2006.

His son, named after Tom Cruise's character in the car-racing film Days of Thunder, was four when Andrew joined the Canucks from the Calgary Flames in 1999. Cole said his lasting memory of Vancouver was living on a hill in West Vancouver.

"I guess I've got six more teams to go," he joked of following in dad's tracks. "I'd rather stick with one. But it's pretty cool. I'm just glad to be a Canuck."

Cole, who was born in Hartford, had 43 points in 64 games this season with Oshawa of the Ontario League. He is a two-way centre who projects to be a third-liner in the NHL if he makes it.

"Vancouver's close to my heart and a great city," Andrew said. "For Cole to go somewhere I played is great. He's going to go to camp with Daniel and Henrik (Sedin) - guys I actually played with, guys he was in the dressing room with when he was in kindergarten. It's going to be awesome for him."

CANUCKS GO WEST: After choosing London, Ont., junior Bo Horvat ninth over-all, the Canucks' other first-round pick was Medicine Hat Tiger winger Hunter Shinkaruk. He is the first Western Hockey League player drafted by the Canucks since 2008, and the 24th pick is well-aware of Trevor Linden's legacy as a Tiger who went to Vancouver.

"I met him once this year; he came to Medicine Hat and dropped the puck for the opening faceoff," Shinkaruk, the Tigers' captain, said. "It's pretty surreal right now that we played with the same junior team and the same NHL team.

"Trevor Linden was obviously a great player, but the main thing about him is he was a great person. He helped out in the community and realized he was a role model for younger kids. He handled himself with pride and respect everywhere he went. That's something I think I can take on."

Shinkaruk has already begun. He spent the days leading up to the draft helping families in his Calgary neighborhood of Elbow Park clean up after the Alberta floods.

"I wanted to get out and help people, so I volunteered," he said. "Me and my buddies went down, and we've been cleaning out basements for a while. If my family went through that experience, I'm sure people would be helping us. It puts everything into perspective."

Shinkaruk, 5-10 and 180 pounds, had 86 points in 64 games for Medicine Hat.

"That's just the kind of guy Hunter is," his best friend, Brett Fagerheim, said of the cleanup. "I've known him since we were four or five and he has always been a star, but never acted like one. He has always been concerned about everyone else in the group and puts others ahead of himself."

Fagerheim, a defenceman with Salmon Arm in the B.C. Hockey League, said he and Shinkaruk were lucky to live up the hill from the flooding.

"We just started walking down streets, asking people if they needed help," Fagerheim said. "Hunter easily could have said, 'No, I can't, I've got the NHL draft coming up and I need to be ready for it.' But we knew how important it was to help our community."

DRAFT ROLL CALL: The Canucks chose Belleville defenceman Jordan Subban, the little (5-9) brother of Montreal Canadiens' Norris Trophy winner PK Subban, in the fourth round, then took Swedish blueliner Anton Cederholm in the fifth. Vancouver's sixth-round pick was Leduc, Alta., defenceman Mike Williamson from the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In the seventh, the Canucks drafted another blueliner, Pittsburgh native Miles Liberati from the London Knights.

The draft haul of four Ontario Hockey League players and two from Western Canada appeared to reflect the restructuring of Canuck amateur scouting priorities and methodology. The team focussed its scouting efforts on Ontario, the West and the United States.

TRADE BAIT: A lot of the criticism in Vancouver over the Canucks' shock trade of goalie Cory Schneider is that the team didn't collect more than the New Jersey Devils' first-round pick, which was turned into coveted London junior centre Bo Horvat.

There were reports the Edmonton Oilers were willing to pay more, but balked at ransom demands that stemmed from the Canucks' reluctance to trade Schneider within their division.

"You ask for different assets depending on the trade partner you're dealing with," Canuck assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said. "We had a lot of interest in Cory. We asked different teams for different pieces. At the end of the day, this deal was the one that we felt was the best one for us to make. I think it's fair to say the trade partners we were dealing with knew we had to make a deal."

B.C. BOYS: The first British Columbian selected was Vernon's Curtis Lazar, a centre from the Edmonton Oil Kings who went 17th to the Ottawa Senators. The only other B.C. first-rounder was Aldergrove defenceman Shea Theodore, drafted 26th by the Anaheim Ducks. Port Moody centre Adam Tambellini, the son of former Edmonton Oiler general manager Steve, was chosen in the third round by the New York Rangers.

Vancouver Giant teammates, defenceman Mason Geertsen of Drayton Valley, Alta., and North Vancouver winger Jackson Houck, were chosen by the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers on consecutive picks in the fourth round.

Vancouver Canucks - Andrew Cassels. 2001 photo from NHL team photo

Vancouver Canucks - Andrew Cassels. 2001 photo from NHL team photo

Photograph by: Handout, PNG archive

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