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BETA BO, ME • 91 Years Old • Male
Evaluating The Canucks: Defense

To put it frankly, the Canucks defense is about as mediocre and unexciting you can get. No on the roster can be considered a cornerstone franchise defenseman. They lack a flashy puck mover that can excite the fans. They don't have a prototypical physical shutdown d-man that intimidates the opposition and clears the net on a consistent basis. And to make things worse, the prospect cupboard doesn't realistically have a player who has top pairing potential but I'll have more on that another day. It's clear that the Canucks need to transition to a younger core of players so let's a have look and see how the Canucks blueliners all compare to each other.

So I've decided to mainly focus on a few key stats that I strongly believe are the most important things to look at when evaluating a NHL defensman. First off, I will be using stats based on 5v5 play since I don't want to punish players who play more on the PK than the PP and vice-versa. These numbers will be based on the last 2 seasons

The Categories

1) Difficulty of minutes played(competition, zone starts)
2) Points scored per 60 minutes of ice time
3) Goals allowed per 60 minutes of ice time
4) Fenwick(I know, I know, fancy stats! But this one has been proven to be effective for evaluating defensemen more so than it is for Forwards or Corsi). If you hate nerdy hockey stats feel free to ignore this one, but that would be a mistake in my opinion.
5) Scoring Chance Rate(a good compromise between the nerds and casual fans)
6) Age, Cap hit and length of contract

I threw in the last one to add some perspective.

1) Difficult Of Minutes
1. Chris Tanev
2. Dan Hamhuis
3. Alex Edler
4. Kevin Bieksa
5. Luca Sbisa
6/7. Ryan Stanton & Yannick Weber

*Frank Corrado would rank between Bieksa and Sbisa. Clendening was given really easy minutes and ranked dead last. Both have played limited minutes though so I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock into their placements.

2) Points Scored Per 60 Min Played
1. Ryan Stanton(1st shocker)
2. Dan Hamhuis
3. Chris Tanev
4. Kevin Bieksa
5. Alex Edler(also a bit surprising)
6. Yannick Weber
7. Luca Sbisa
*Corrado and Clendening both disappoint here but again in a small sample size as both finish 8th and 9th respectively.

3)Goals Allowed Per 60 Min Played(Best to Worst)
1. Chris Tanev
2. Ryan Stanton(another shocker)
3. Alex Edler
4. Dan Hamhuis(bit of a surprise)
5. Yannick Weber
6. Kevin Bieksa(ugh)
7. Luca Sbisa(double ugh, he's actually way behind Bieksa)
*Clendening and Corrado rank between Hamhuis and Weber

4) Fenwick
1. Chris Tanev
2. Alex Edler
3. Dan Hamhuis
4. Ryan Stanton
5. Yannick Weber
6. Kevin Bieksa
7. Luca Sbisa
*Clendening actually shines here as he ranks 2nd behind only Tanev, a positive sign for him. Corrado ranks between Weber and Bieksa.

5) Scoring Chance Differential Rate
1. Chris Tanev
2. Alex Edler
3. Dan Hamhuis
4. Kevin Bieksa
5. Yannick Weber
6. Ryan Stanton
7. Luca Sbisa
*Corrado and Clendening both shine here big time in heir limited sample size. Corrado ranks first and Clendening ranks second. Promising signs for both but again since both have barely played it's hard to get a good read on this.

6) Age, Cap hits, Contract Length
Dan Hamhuis - 32.5 Years Old, 4.5M Cap Hit until 2016(UFA)
Alex Edler - 29.2 Years Old, 5.0M Cap Hit until 2019(UFA)
Kevin Bieksa - 34 Years Old, 4.6M Cap Hit until 2016(UFA)
Chris Tanev - 25.5 Years Old, 4.45M Cap Hit until 2020(UFA)
Luca Sbisa - 25.4 Years Old, 3.6M Cap Hit until 2018(UFA)
Yannick Weber - 26.8 Years Old, Pending UFA

Summary Notes

- Chris Tanev is clearly the Canucks best d-man and pretty young at 25.5 years old. To rank at or near the top in all of the categories despite playing the hardest minutes and behind young is very impressive. He'll never be a physical presence or a big point producer but he's near-elite defensively despite being a lanky guy and not being overly impressively with "wow" moments. The bottom line is all that matters and he gets it done. Quality defensemen are worth gold right now, especially top-4 young ones signed at an affordable cap hit. Ideally you pair him with a more offensively explosive partner on your top pairing or you use him on a true shutdown pairing by playing him with another defensive stud.

Bottom line: he's a core player and someone who should be apart of the Canucks long-term plans along with Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, etc.

- It's time to explore trading Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis. Both are pending UFA's that will want multi-year contract extensions. Both are on the downswing of their careers as they're losing speed and no longer as skilled. Hamhuis to a lesser extend. Kevin Bieksa definitely needs to be traded sooner rather than later as his reputation and trade value has now exceeded his actual on-ice value. Neither of these guys will be considered core players by the time the Canucks are on the upswing again. Both have NTC's so Benning needs to work with them to get something done.

- Something to ponder, is Chris Tanev making Alex Edler looking better than he actually is or do they both just have good chemistry together? Tanev's actually producing more offense at 5v5 so maybe he's the reason why that duo isn't good enough offensively and why the powerplay is so inconsistent. He's simply no longer an effective offensive d-man and one has to question how good he is defensively when not paired with Tanev. He's someone I would consider selling eventually, but a d-man with good upside would have to be apart of the return in a trade. He has a NTC as well and may not be open to waiving it.

- Luca Sbisa is a horrible defenseman, extremely overpaid and should be traded for anything of value offered. Benning is high on him which is a scary sign, hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come. He provides some of the worst value in the league in terms of production(offense and defense) provided per dollar. He's not even average at offense or defense. With 350+ games already played and being the same age as Tanev, it's hard to envision him suddenly getting better.

- Ryan Stanton is an interesting case, he thrived under Torts and Sullivan but faltered under Desjardins and Lidster. He wasn't qualified by the Canucks as a RFA and a smart team may want to give him a chance and sign him as a #7 d-man to see if he can regain form.

- Yannick Weber caught fire on the PP this season but is a pretty mediocre player, he will likely get overpaid as a UFA due to his career season.

- Corrado and Clendening deserve to get a look next year, Clendening looks to have a bit more upside according to the numbers but folks who watch the Utica Comets regularly are suggesting that Frank Corrado is NHL-ready and Clendening still needs some work. Time will tell and a whole off-season to work on their games can make a difference as both are young and inexperienced and have room to grow.

Thanks for reading!
Filed Under:   Vancouver   Canucks   Defensemen  
June 30, 2015 4:12 AM ET | Delete
June 30, 2015 4:12 AM ET | Delete
June 30, 2015 11:00 AM ET | Delete
June 30, 2015 11:34 AM ET | Delete
Why is a flames fan evaluating the canucks defense??Idiot ;)
June 30, 2015 1:59 PM ET | Delete
@ASL Reported you as well@dougie DOUGIE!!!!@iggy I think I ripped them pretty well here, outside of Tanev they are screwed long term
June 30, 2015 2:02 PM ET | Delete
Nice work
June 30, 2015 3:22 PM ET | Delete
Thanks, JJ!
June 30, 2015 5:39 PM ET | Delete
Good blog, Nucker - thanks for the breakdowns :thumbsup:
July 1, 2015 8:02 PM ET | Delete
Thanks zoggster!
July 3, 2015 10:06 AM ET | Delete
good read
July 5, 2015 6:10 AM ET | Delete
Interesting but they still have a clear top two in Edler and Hamhuis. Underrated in this blog. It is better than a lot of teams have. Problem is with the forwards. They need to go into rebuild and add to the talent of Horvat and Tanev. Hamhuis will be traded this year at the deadline and they will get a good price for him too. Not as dire as it seems but yeah, they are not winning any more presidents trophies for a while.
August 16, 2015 2:42 PM ET | Delete
Habs should trade Markov to Vancouver for a left winger.
August 17, 2016 6:22 PM ET | Delete
it is now all good.
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