Should the Canucks Sign Jonathan Blum?

Jeff Angus
July 03 2013 09:33AM

Jonathan Blum - WikiCommons Media

The former Vancouver Giant star defenseman has been cut loose by the Nashville Predators. The team decided not to qualify him – and they are looking to trade his rights before he becomes a free agent on Friday.

Does Blum make sense for the Canucks? The 1st round draft pick from 2007 (23rd overall) has had an up and down start to his NHL career in Nashville, and he has fallen out of favour with the management. There simply isn’t any room for him on the Predators back end, especially with the drafting of Seth Jones and the development of Victor Bartley, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. The recent acquisition of TJ Brennan from Florida didn’t do much to help Blum’s chances of making the team, either.

Blum made $650,000 last year on a two-way contract. He had seven points in 35 games for Nashville, and 12 points in 34 games for Milawukee. His best AHL season was his first, back in 2009-10 – 11 goals, 41 points, and a plus-17 rating. It is very rare for a 1st round pick to sign a two-way contract upon the exipiration of his entry level deal, but Blum had plenty to prove to himself and the Predators organization. However, he obviously didn't prove enough this past season.

On a personal level, Blum has been through a lot on his life, losing his twin sister in a house fire. He played his rookie year with the Giants as his mother was battling cancer. That is a heck of a lot of adversity for anyone to manage, let alone a teenager playing hockey far away from home. It isn't fair to sit here and speculate as to how that has impacted him as a person, but I'd guess that it makes dealing with adversity like losing your spot on a hockey club a whole lot easier. 

Blum had a phenomenal junior career with the Giants, playing four seasons in Vancouver. He eclipsed the 60-point mark in each of his final two seasons, and he had 18 points in 17 postseason games in 2008-09 to finish his WHL career. He served as the Giants captain that year, and was also named as the top defenseman in both the WHL and entire CHL, as well. Blum isn't physical in the slightest, but he has good size at 6-2 and 195 pounds. He was the second best Giants defenseman I saw come through Vancouver (the best being Andrej Meszaros). Blum was a step ahead of everybody on the ice with his passing and positioning.

He was able to separate himself at the lower levels with his passing and hockey IQ. However, he has struggled to do that consistently at the NHL level.

What happened in Nashville? Was it a case of unfair expectations?

The unfortunate thing with Blum is how expectations were unfairly raised by his NHL debut in the spring of 2011. He looked spectacular during the stretch run that season, but most of that perception can be tied to a ridiculously fortunate run of puck luck. His PDO of 1068 came about due to unsustainably hot shooting (13.9%) by the Preds during his ice time, while his underlying possession metrics flashed major warning signs. Sure enough, when his PDO fell back to earth in 2011-2012, and Blum's Corsi-related metrics stayed the same, the guy turned from stud to dud in a hurry.

Blum is only 24, and it is much too early to write him off as a bust. But whoever picks him up is going to have to be patient with him. As things stand right now, the Canucks have two right-side defensemen in Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev, and three left-side defensemen in Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, and Alex Edler. Garrison looked good on the right side with Hamhuis, but that meant that Bieksa and Edler were often paired together. Returning Bieksa with Hamhuis makes sense, and then splitting up Garrison and Edler. Perhaps a steady defensive guy like Garrison by his side would help Blum find his offensive game once again?

Some potential pairings (as of July 3rd... subject to change):

Hamhuis-Bieksa

Edler-Tanev

Garrison-Blum/Corrado

Even giving Blum the opportunity to compete for a top six spot with the likes of Frank Corrado and whoever else the Canucks bring in this summer or at training camp would be a smart move.

The fact that Alex Edler is still being shopped (or offers are being listened to – whatever you like better) tells me two things – one, the team wants/needs to cut more cap space, and two, the market for offensive defensemen is as strong as ever. Blum isn’t the kind of asset that grows on trees, even with the fact that he hasn't proven a whole lot at the NHL level (outside of a strong stint a few seasons ago). Bring him in, give him an opportunity to produce. It would be a low risk, high reward move.

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Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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#1 GRR
July 03 2013, 11:00AM
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Adding Blum would be a solid move. He's likely to come cheap, and puts less pressure on Corrado to make the team right away.

But if Corrado continues his steady play and earns a top-6 spot....Blum isn't a bad guy to have as a 7th man either.

Halishuk would be a decent fit on the 4th line as well. Smaller guy, but I remember being impressed with him during the '11 2nd round series. 3

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#2 BrudnySeaby
July 03 2013, 11:45AM
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I think it would be a big mistake to trade Edler. It's even highly doubtful in my mind that it would be worthwhile if you can get Couturier, a prospect and some picks.

Yes, the Canucks need a 3C with upside to play at 2C (is Kesler gets hurt). But we also need a solid back-end. If we trade away Edler (who might become far more reliable and steady once he can play a whole season on the left side and with a steady defensive partner, instead of being made to play his off-side by AV!!!) we lack defensive reliability and depth at the NHL level (especially with Ballard on buy-out waivers now) and without Alberts resigned.

Where do you suggest (or Canuck management for that matter) where we find and sign (to a cheaper deal) a new NHL ready, and rather proven, D? RIght, the market is already very thin.

Next year the Cap will go up again and the Canucks' cap space issues will thus be resolved.

Keep Edler, resign Tanev (to a short term bridge deal), resign Alberts and Lapierre for deals in the $1-1.5mln range and keep the 3C open for one of our young players. We should fit under the cap then with reliable D, some young players up front, and low and behold, Luongo in goal.

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#3 NM00
July 03 2013, 11:45AM
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‏@DarrenDreger 1h The Ballard buyout means Alex Edler is no longer a trade target.

As for Blum, it's probably better for him to go to an organization with less defensive depth.

He's a good gamble for everyone and anyone.

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#4 NM00
July 03 2013, 11:49AM
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@BrudnySeaby

"Keep Edler, resign Tanev (to a short term bridge deal), resign Alberts and Lapierre for deals in the $1-1.5mln range and keep the 3C open for one of our young players. We should fit under the cap then with reliable D, some young players up front, and low and behold, Luongo in goal."

How does this make the team better, though?

Giving raises to the same group that is aging and clearly a little short won't improve the situation.

Not to mention that there may not even be enough money to resign all of Tanev, Lapierre & Alberts.

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#5 JCDavies
July 03 2013, 12:07PM
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I think Blum is definitely worth the risk if the Canucks can get him; a change of scenery would probably be good for him.

Unless the return is ridiculous, it would be a shame to trade Edler this summer. That contract is going to have so much more value once realism of the new CBA sets in.

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#6 Malmsteen
July 03 2013, 01:21PM
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Sorry but, I'm losing faith in gillis' perception of hockey sense. Either go down the full possession route (booth) or zone strategy (malhotra) but halfway urea avail nothing. Blum looks good but it doesn't matter who they sign until the tone is set. Jeremy Giambi was lots of runs on paper, but a douche in the room.

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#7 EricCantona
July 03 2013, 04:58PM
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Blum is definitely worth the risk.. He's a right-handed D. Yes. a Giant connection.

But if we have Corrado in the pipeline now and Jordan Subban in a few years... so it might be redundant in signing players that take away ice time from Corrado and might hinder his development...

If Blum willingly comes on a two-way contract on a short term, YES.

Also, we have too many Left-handed D coming up in Peter Andersson and Henrik Tommernes... and Yann Sauve if he comes back..... apparently Andersson and Tommernes can play on their off-wing (or off-side?)

Since we're in a quasi-rebuild period... why not grow from within and stray away from Coach V's overreliance on experience and veterans.

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#8 Hulk Hogan
July 03 2013, 06:04PM
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Definitely sign this guy if he signs a cheap, 2 way deal. You never know. Stick him in the minors to get his game back. Sounds like he's gone through a lot.

Edler has a great contract. Very reasonable signing. He does have a NTC so he isn't going anywhere unless he wants to. Deal him for a line 1 type centre or one that has that potential. Colorado and Van might make for good trade partners there. Edler needs to bring back a surefire line 1 type centre.

The Sedins have 1 year left. Who knows that's up with them. I don't think they're line 1 players so we need someone to move up to line 1. Kesler may not be that guy either.

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#9 NM00
July 03 2013, 06:26PM
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@EricCantona

"Since we're in a quasi-rebuild period... why not grow from within and stray away from Coach V's overreliance on experience and veterans."

Because the team is actually trying to win next year.

Too many rookies in a contending roster will not work. The Canucks have done a poor job integrating prospects the last few years.

There's Tanev and that's pretty much it aside from guys no longer on the team (Schneider, Raymond).

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#10 JCDavies
July 03 2013, 06:38PM
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@EricCantona

Having a young 20 year old spend their first pro season in the AHL isn't going to hinder their development.

Subban is years away.

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#11 dan
July 03 2013, 07:39PM
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I'd go for Gilbert - strong adv. stats - gd puck moving skills - right side - I'd trade Edler - for 3rd line center - Tm will be stronger 5 on 5 .. Put Garrison on 1st unit - BUT take a hit on PP - where Edler's puck moving skills provided most value...

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#12 Gilby
July 03 2013, 08:11PM
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I prefer they go after Gilbert.

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#13 Locky
July 04 2013, 03:00AM
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Blum could be a good idea. Even a one-way contract would work I think, given we're going to need to carry a #7 D-man on the roster anyway.

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#14 van
July 04 2013, 09:18AM
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Offensive lines: Sedin-Sedin-Kassian Stalberg-Schroeder-Jensen

Defensive lines: Booth-Kesler-Burrows Higgins-Gaunce-Hansen

Hamhuis-Bieksa Garrison-Tanev Edler-Corrado Blum

Luongo Lack

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