Barry Wilkins was originally a draft pick of the Boston Bruins in the mid 1960s, but due to their strong roster, he could never break through on their team. Just like for Orland Kurtenbach, being taken in the expansion draft by the Canucks was Wilkins’ big break. Wilkins was just 23 when he started playing for Vancouver in the 1970-71 season, but played a solid year, providing physicality along with 23 points in 70 games from the back end. At the beginning of the season, Wilkins had the honour of scoring the first goal in Canucks history against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wilkins was awarded the Fred J. Hume award as the most unsung hero of the Canucks for that season.
The 1971-72 season was a rough one for Wilkins as he only played in 45 games and managed just 7 points. Wilkins would bounce back in a big way in the 1972-73 season, scoring a career high of 11 goals and 28 points, winning him the new Babe Pratt Trophy as the best defenseman on the Canucks, then called the Premier’s Trophy. The Canucks improved in the 1973-74 season for their best year yet, and Wilkins wasn’t left behind. He played in all 78 games and had 28 assists, managing 31 points.
Early in the 1974-75 season, Wilkins was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wilkins was the last remaining player from the 1970 expansion draft and the second last player to leave from the original 1970-71 team. Wilkins would play with the Penguins until the end of the 1975-76 before spending two more years in the WHA and calling it quits in 1978. While Wilkins never led the team’s defense in scoring, he was a consistent two-way defenseman that was a steady presence on Vancouver’s lineup for just over four seasons. He retired with 90 points as a Canuck and second to only Andre Boudrias in games with 276 games.
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