January 18 2012 05:59PM
Recently recalled Chris Tanev celebrates after scoring a goal this past Preseason.
News broke this evening that the Vancouver Canucks have recalled chain-smoking defenseman Chris Tanev from the Chicago Wolves. As the good folks at Pass it to Bulis noted on Twitter, the timing of the transaction is particularly interesting, and somewhat mirrors the look the team gave Cody Hodgson prior to the trade-deadline last season. Clearly, Gillis and co. are taking this opportunity to evaluate Tanev and to see whether or not he's ready to provide the team with quality top-4 depth. This is Tanev's shot to prove to the team that he can play a top-4 role, and to do so before Gillis is forced to pay a prohibitive price (likely a pound of flesh) for a defenseman at the deadline.
Here's the official press release from canucks.nhl.com. More analysis after the jump.
When he's been healthy this season, Chris Tanev has impressed with the Chicago Wolves. He's played big minutes, and has been used him in all situations by Wolves Headcoach Craig MacTavish. While Tanev is yet to score a goal in 25 AHL games this season, he's added a shot per game to his twelve assists with the Wolves. He's also skated to a +5, on a team with a total goal differential of +9.
Chris Tanev will presumably dress on Saturday afternoon when the Canucks face the San Jose Sharks at home. If he does it will be his fourth NHL game of this season. Tanev began the year with the big club, but had a couple of iffy performances (he memorably closed his hand on a puck in the crease during the second game of the season against Columbus) and was severely under-utilized. While his early season performances with the Canucks were less impressive than what he showed during the last year's postseason, his underlying numbers and chance% were relatively strong. At the very least, Tanev represents a significant improvement over what Alexander Sulzer has provided the team with this season.
We can expect Tanev to start his latest tour of duty on the team's third pairing, with one of Keith Ballard or Andrew Alberts. Assuming the Canucks have re-called Tanev to see if he can provide sufficient insurance for the oft-injured Sami Salo, however, he'll likely get a chance to play top-4 minutes, or at least modified top-4 minutes.
Today, I wrote at length about Hodgson's potential suitability playing the point on the power-play, but obviously Chris Tanev is a better fit for that role. As we know from last season, Chris Tanev is a crisp passing defenseman who is fleet of foot and positionally sound, though he's apparently "never" thrown a bodycheck. His low-event stylings, quiet dominance of possession and overall situational awareness (which, is apparently derived from his taking a baseball-like approach to hockey) have made him a darling of all eight hockey-math inclined Canucks fans.
Get excited folks, Chris Tanev is back!