November 04 2013 11:52AM
Ryan Stanton is loving life right now, and making Mike Gillis look real smart. [Image via Timothy Ludwig]
If you live in or around Vancouver you know that the majority of the summer around here was spent verbally eviscerating the job Mike Gillis was doing running their favourite team. It wasn't fair for the most part given the way the lowered cap had tied his hands, but still, it was hard not to look around and see teams getting better while the Canucks were standing pat. That anger was only exacerbated by the four game sweep at the hands of the Sharks that had put a bow on a rather miserable lockout shortened campaign.
By hook or by crook the Canucks had lost Derek Roy, Mason Raymond, Max Lapierre, Keith Ballard, and Andrew Ebbett (all of whom had contributed to the team in some way, shape, or form). They ultimately replaced those guys with the following list of players, which I mockingly tweeted out back on September 30th. It's safe to say that I wasn't overly optimistic about the way the roster was constructed heading into opening night.
Obviously five weeks later, myself and many others have been made to look silly by a team that has managed to go 10-5-1 despite a series of unfortunate events. Even Lemony Snicket couldn't have made this stuff up. Their best players can be thanked for the success, no doubt, but it's hard not to appreciate what three of the players on that aforementioned list - Mike Santorelli, Brad Richardson, and Ryan Stanton - have brought to the table. We all know about Santorelli's accomplishments by now. And Richardson has done a fine job moving around the bottom-6 and contributing on the penalty kill.
But it's quite possible that the best acquisition of the summer was the one that Mike Gillis made just a day before the preseason, and that was bringing in undrafted AHL veteran Ryan Stanton. Read on past the jump for more on the unsung defenseman that will finally get his due.
Let's get to know Ryan Stanton, first. Here are some fun facts about him that you may not have known:
a) He may or may not have played a supporting role in the Harry Potter franchise, portraying Neville Longbottom. I'd go into more detail in explaining that character, but I have this weird hunch that a large chunk of our readers are more than aware of who he is.
Fine.. he didn't actually appear in that movie, but it's pretty clear that we've found his celebrity doppelganger. It's actor Matthew Lewis, shown below:
(s/t to @wholegrainne)
b) When you search all people for "Chicago Blackhawks" on Twitter, Stanton's Twitter is the 24th account to come up on the list. He doesn't really tweet that much, but he did deliver this gem back in June of former teammate Andrew Shaw doing, well, Andrew Shaw things (if you feel nauseous following the viewing of this image, don't blame me!). In case you're wondering about the 4 at the end of his handle, it's the number he wore back in his Junior and AHL days.
c) He's not the only Ryan Stanton born in the 80's that plays hockey professionally. If you're ever in England, get away from the rain by going to the rink for an English Premier Ice Hockey League involving the Telford Tigers. Think of all of the Ryan Stanton references you can make that absolutely no one around you will get!
d) It's hard not to get behind a guy that has mixed it up with both Ben Eager and Zack Stortini in the past. The shit-eating grin he's sporting towards the end of that Stortini clip is amazing. I honestly had no idea that Stanton had the ability to tussle that he does until I went on Youtube, but he does. Check out this clip of him feeding Brayden Schenn back in their WHL days.
e) According to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, Ryan Stanton's most common partner at 5v5 is Kevin Bieksa. They've only played just over 57 minutes together, but the evidence is beginning to stack up that they've been, against all odds, the team's most effective defensive pairing. I'm not joking. Check out the numbers of the most commonly used pairings for the Canucks through 16 games:
|Ryan Stanton & Kevin Bieksa||5.253||0.00||57.9|
|Dan Hamhuis & Chris Tanev||4.293||2.862||55.1|
|Alex Edler & Jason Garrison||0.825||4.125||43.4|
Good god, the Garrison/Edler pairing has been a trainwreck. Let's pretend that I didn't write a long piece towards the end of the summer suggesting that John Tortorella should use them together, okay? Dan Hamhuis struggled quite mightily (even though the numbers may not have suggested as much) early on, but since being paired with Tanev he has really started to find his game again. Just ask the Maple Leafs.
The Bieksa/Stanton pairing has been simply remarkable, though. After a really forgettable season last year, Bieksa seems to have found a good fit for his style in Stanton, who seems to hardly ever make a mistake. Despite having started just 41.6% and 46.8% of their shifts in the offensive zone, respectively, the pair has yet to be on the ice for a goal against at 5v5!
As a result they're both sporting rather high on-ice save%'s - and therefore, high PDOs - and that'll probably regress, but even if it does the way in which the team is controlling possession and generating offense while they're out there leads me to believe that they're kind of for real.
A 6th defenseman doesn't initially seem to be that important, but after having sat through a season which featured the stylings of Andrew Alberts and the artist formerly known as Cam Barker, I think Canucks fans can surely appreciate the value of a defenseman that won't hurt the team's cause. Especially one that's making $550k, and allows the team's best defense prospect - one Frank Corrado - to spend some time logging big minutes in the AHL. Look around the league and you'll see plenty a depth defenseman that has no business being in the NHL routinely playing.
@DimFilipovic less surprising if you watched lots of Wolves vs Icehogs during the lockout. Stanton can play.— Kyle (@kyleberndt) October 2, 2013
I have to give credit where it's due, because Kyle was one of the only people I personally saw that liked Ryan Stanton before it was cool. Maybe he should be writing about the Canucks, because he obviously saw something that your favourite blogs certainly didn't.