All I got for Chris-T-mas was some offence

With his fourth goal on the year, Chris Tanev tied himself with Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison for the team lead among defencemen. He’s also in a tie for 19th in the entire NHL as for defensive goal-scoring, which is positively silly. At 12 points, he has as many as Christian Ehrhoff, Justin Schultz, Jonas Brodin, Sergei Gonchar and more than Alex Goligoski and Jake Gardiner. 

It’s just half a season, so of course we can’t get too high on this dramatic, new, offensive Chris Tanev we’ve come to love over the last 39 games. Tanev has never been an offensive stud at any level. During his draft year, Tanev had 10 points in 30 games with the Markham Waxers and Stoufville Spirit of the Ontario Junior A ranks. During his first and only year at the Rochester Institute of Technology he was third among defence in scoring on his team. His talents mostly surround his defensive ability against third and fourth line opposition and inability to take minor penalties.

But.. that wrist shot? An absolute cannon. Let’s investigate.

The thing I find the most funny about Tanev’s statline for the last two seasons is his 10% shooting rate. Never once have I seen Tanev get any rise into a slapshot, and his wrister is more of a knuckling curveball than a rising fastball.

I made the point in a post about Chris Tanev’s first ever NHL goal. He either delayed on the shot, or it went so slow that the puck went behind a sprawling Nail Yakupov who had dove in front of the shot to block it in the dying seconds of overtime:

The best thing about this goal is that Kevin Quinn is speaking in such a muted tone as Tanev’s teammates are mobbing him. Note that wrist shot though, and where it came from on the ice. He was right under the Bowman line in the centre of the ice, almost exactly his shot against the Jets Sunday night. 

Here’s his second goal of his career, notable because the Coyotes broadcaster calls him “Christian Tanev”:

Again, another wrist shot from just under the Bowman Line. It’s not necessarily “shot quality” as it is “location quality”.

His first goal of this season against the Los Angeles Kings may have been tipped, but there’s little evidence it got more than a foot off the ice. It’s a lot like his goal against Carolina:

Tanev’s first wrist shot goal that wasn’t taken from the top of the slot. It looked like he was maybe aiming for a tip or a rebound. He kept the shot low and aimed for Justin Peters’ far pad but it got through.

His goal against Boston was eerily similar to his first pre-season goal, back in 2012 against Calgary. It was a hard drive to the net. I never assumed Tanev had any power forward instincts, but he might be deadly on shootouts if he was allowed to have teammates pass him the puck:

Nothing pretty about that one, but it’s great for a defenceman with so few natural offensive instincts to spot the two-on-one plausibility off of the contested faceoff. As soon as Mike Santorelli grabbed hold of the puck, Tanev cut off Brad Richardson and didn’t stop accelerating until the puck was on his stick in the Bruins zone.

Henrik Sedin said Sunday night that Tanev was “maybe our best D-man joining the rush and reading plays”. Remember, this is an undrafted player that scored a single point in his first 43 games. The offence we’ve seen over the last couple of months is entirely new to Tanev, not just at this level, but practically every level he’s ever played.

Again, Tanev read the play perfectly and, like in the Edmonton and Phoenix games, found a spot in soft ice where there weren’t any defensive players.

There are the little things that really make Tanev valuable (like his four minor penalties in over 640 minutes of even strength ice time), but the recent offence, though unsustainable, is a hilarious bonus. Still, Tanev has progressed in a way this season that no reasonable human being could have thought possible, at both ends. He only just turned 24, too. There may not be a better story in hockey than Tanev’s meteoric rise from an undrafted college free agent, to cracking the NHL lineup thanks to a gluttony of injuries, to… playing on the first pair of one of hockey’s best defensive clubs? It seems there’s a step in the progression missing.

  • acg5151

    Hamhuis obviously the missing link, plus spending more time playing with our top lines. Doesn’t have to baby-sit his d-partner any more as well.

    He’s gone from 6th among d men in quality of teammates for d and f to 1st and 2nd respectively.

  • acg5151

    Presents an interesting dilemma for Canucks management this off-season:

    Dude is RFA; going to probably double his $1.5M salary, especially if he keeps chipping in offensively and his insanely good PK numbers stay where they are.

    The top-4 is written in permanent marker: Bieksa, Edler, Garrison, Hamhuis. Corrado is in the AHL, nipping at Tanev’s heels.

    Does management make Tanev the centerpiece of a deal in order to get a top 6 young gun forward?

    • KleptoKlown

      Yeah, that 1 year deal signed this last off season sure seems like a bad idea now. They probably could have had him at a 2.5 mill cap hit for the next couple of years if they were willing to go with the higher cap hit this year. Wonder what his cap hit will be next year? North of 4 million?

      He’s playing too good to consider trading at this point. Unless of course another GM is willing to pay a premium. Him and Hamhuis have been playing a lot of tough minutes, and his absences would be notably missed.

      • KleptoKlown

        A lot of teams right now really need what Tanev’s got (Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Philly, Pittsburgh, etc). I actually wagered a friend last night that we wouldn’t see Tanev finish the season in Vancouver, but we’ll see.

        I can’t imagine Tanev will take more than $4 million next year as he’s still an RFA and he’s been great, but not PK Subban great. $2.5-$3.5 seems more probable.

  • JCDavies

    I don’t think the Canucks will ever get fair value back for Tanev. He doesn’t put up enough points.

    I would rather see Tanev, and Corrado after him, force management into trading one or two of Bieksa, Edler, Garrison, and Hamhuis (I don’t those players are as unmovable as their NTCs might indicate).

    • “With his fourth goal on the year, Chris Tanev tied himself with Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison for the team lead among defencemen. He’s also in a tie for 19th in the entire NHL as for defensive goal-scoring, which is positively silly. At 12 points, he has as many as Christian Ehrhoff, Justin Schultz, Jonas Brodin, Sergei Gonchar and more than Alex Goligoski and Jake Gardiner.”

      That’s the very first paragraph of the post.

      There are more issues with trading players who have NTCs than just getting the player to agree to a trade. Mike Gillis has spent a long time building a culture and environment in Vancouver that attracts high-end talent. All of the defencemen you just listed signed in Vancouver for well below market value because of that, and I don’t think Gillis would be willing to sacrifice that reputation.

      • JCDavies

        “There are more issues with trading players who have NTCs than just getting the player to agree to a trade. Mike Gillis has spent a long time building a culture and environment in Vancouver that attracts high-end talent. All of the defencemen you just listed signed in Vancouver for well below market value because of that, and I don’t think Gillis would be willing to sacrifice that reputation.”

        1. Gillis openly shopped Edler at the draft just before his NTC kicked in.

        2. Gillis openly shopped Burrows at the draft just before his NTC kicked in.

        3. Gillis openly shopped Luongo while his NTC was active only to later find out that the contract was immovable (shocking, I know).

        4. Aside from BC-born players – which has nothing to do with the general manager – the Canucks haven’t attracted top talent unless you want to count the ridiculous contract offer that “attracted” Sundin to Vancouver.

        I tend to agree with JC here. Tanev is probably an undervalued asset.

        Whereas Edler, for example, may very well be an overvalued asset…

        • 1. Key word = before
          2. See #1
          3. Lou went to Gillis after Vancouver decided that Cory was their guy
          4. The twins resigning with Vancouver doesn’t count as top talent? Roberto doesn’t either? Nor does Ryan Kesler?

          Alrighty then, you’re 0/4 there Blake. Move along.

          • 1. A willingness to move a player before his NTC kicked in would certainly undercut the culture and environment to which Matt is referring.

            2. Reread #1 because I suspect you didn’t quite comprehend it the first time.

            3. “Vancouver” deciding Cory was their guy was a Gillis thing. Forcing players out certainly isn’t conducive to a player friendly environment, either.

            4. If you read Matt’s comment, or have someone read and explain it to you, he says “attracts” high end talent. Player retention is besides the point considering previous management teams acquired and signed each of those core players originally and big market cap teams typically manage to keep their core players.

            Your fixation with Blake Murphy is disturbing…

        • JCDavies

          Do you have some links or evidence to Gillis’ statements that he was “openly” shopping Burrows or Edler? Luongo obviously everyone knew. But your implication seems to be that Gillis somehow was dealing unethically with players who signed for below market value is based on what? The Brian Burke rumour about Gillis shopping Burrows, Bieksa and a first for Hedman? The rumours about Gillis shopping Edler at the last draft? We have all heard about those but to state them all as established fact seems far fetched at best.

          The signing of Tanev for the low one-year price was a worthwhile gamble — we still didn’t know if he was better than a decent 5/6 D, a la Ryan Stanton. To have given him a big raise (even to $2 million) would have tied that contract much more to his performance and I guarantee there would be some at least at the start of the season grumbling about value. In this sense it’s similar to the Subban gamble (though he’s not as good as PK). If we really do have roughly $11 million in cap space for next year (not counting a buyout and if Booth continues to trend upwards I’d be loathe to toss him aside) then I’d have no problem with $3 million or slightly higher for Tanev which is what I think he’d get. Santorelli will likely garner $2 – $2.5 and I’d be very surprised if Schroeder or Weise get much more than they’re making now. Also contrary to some of the predictions to the contrary, Higgins has been full value for his $2.5

          • If you watched the 2013 draft, I believe it was Duthie who had spoken with Gillis about potentially moving Burrows and/or Edler before their NTCs kicked in.

            While Higgins has been playing well, there was every reason to believe he would have been squeezed a la Mason Raymond based on his 2013 season.

            And let’s not selectively ignore Burrows’ market jumping contract.

            According to Capgeek, the Canucks have 16 players signed for about $60.4 million next year.

            So around $10.7 million with which to play based on the projected cap of $71.1 million if the Canucks want to be right at the ceiling.

            Tanev ($3.5), Santorelli ($2.5), Kassian ($1.5), Weise ($1.0), Weber ($0.75), Dalpe ($0.75) & Schroeder ($0.7) are entirely capable of eating every last dollar.

            And if he wanted to chase every last dollar, Santorelli may very well get $4 million from the highest bidder…

          • JCDavies

            I thought that with the exception of Luongo — who was so obviously on the market — Gillis didn’t tend to name players he was shopping. In general I think it would be kind of dumb to do so anyway as I can’t imagine it would strengthen their trade value or feelings about the club. I haven’t seen any sign of resentment in either player at any rate.

            I thought the squeezing of Raymond in the last round was actually kind of crappy given what he’d given to the club and his struggles dealing with that terrible injury and that he seemed to be a genuinely good team guy. I think it was better that we outright let him go this time around as he’s not ideal for the Canucks. For what it’s worth I think Higgins is a better all around player — a more tenacious forechecker, a better passer, a better shot, a better hitter. He can’t match Raymond’s speed but he’s not a peripheral player the way that Raymond can be.

            Why are you assuming every one of those players is going to get the kind of raise you’re ascribing to them? Tanev and Santorelli definitely (and I think along those lines — I think it’s unlikely that Santorelli gets $4 million based on one bounceback season but hey we live in a league where David Clarkson makes $7 million or whatever), but Weise and Dalpe remain fourth liners, Weber I think is a waste of an insurance D for that amount, Kassian might go up to $1 million but how does his agent justify doubling his salary on an inconsistent season like this? It’s more likely he signs a bridge contract. If possible same with Schroeder, who’s been too injured to prove much.

            As it is I don’t know that I’d keep Dalpe, who while intriguing remains underutilized as a fourth liner (and if you’re going to have a skill guy as your fourth line center you may as well put Schroeder in on the third and have Richardson back down on the fourth with Higgins and Weise for a pretty effective energy line). Better yet that Horvat comes in as the third line center, which I think there’s a strong possibility for next year.

            I don’t think the Canucks are going to be in all that much of a cap crunch. And I certainly think resigning Tanev to a 3 x $3.5 million contract would be the right move if they can get it.

            It does make Gillis’ poor drafting in the pre-2013 period somewhat less of a burden when you have guys like Lack and Tanev as quality young players emerge (though it still doesn’t help our depth much).

          • JCDavies

            “Why are you assuming every one of those players is going to get the kind of raise you’re ascribing to them?”

            I’m not.

            I’m simply trying to be realistic about the raises these players will require and to show it’s entirely possible the cap increase will be used to retain players without improving the team in the least.

            Frankly, some of those raise estimates may be on the conservative side.

            If Santorelli puts up 50ish points, someone quite possibly would be willing to pay him upwards of $4 million to be their 2nd line centre.

            Supply and demand and all.

            And considering the number of teams that have emerged in the West this year (Anaheim, Dallas, Minnesota, Colorado with Phoenix & Nashville very possibly playing above their weight as they often do) along with the big 4 still looking strong, it’s going to be even harder for the Canucks to get back to the top of the mountain in 2014-2015 without a shakeup…

      • JCDavies

        “That’s the very first paragraph of the post.”

        Thank you for politely asking me to reread that first paragraph. There are more than 50 defensemen that have put up more than Tanev’s 12 points on the season. And while Tanev’s four goals look really good right now, there are 37 other NHL defensemen with with four or more goals on the season and 34 defensemen with three goals on the season. Is there a material difference in the return that you can get from a defenseman with four goals over one that has three? I’m not so sure.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Tanev is great. I just don’t think that there are many GMs out there willing to offer a return that’s fair compared to what he provides on the ice every night.

        Re: the NTCs:

        While I agree that trading players with NTCs could impact the team’s ability to attract some players, the same could be said for fostering an environment where new players can’t realistically challenge the core players for a spot at the top of the lineup. The Canucks have made some progress this year with Tanev and Santorelli playing important roles for the team. It would be worse, in my opinion, for the team to send the message that it isn’t willing to make room for the best players regardless of their status as a new player or a core player.

        Also, not all NTCs are equal. We already know that Higgins and Hansen don’t have full NTCs, so some of what the Canucks are able/willing to do would depend on what was discussed/agreed to during the contract negotiations with those four d-men.

  • “Nothing pretty about that one, but it’s great for a defenceman with so few natural offensive instincts to spot the two-on-one plausibility off of the contested faceoff.”

    I kinda have to disagree with you there, Cam. From watching Tanev, I always thought all the offensive instincts were there, but he just didn’t have the physical abilities to take advantage of them. It’s like he had the toolbox but absolutely none of the tools – the anti-Zack Kassian if you will. Now that he’s grown to 6’2 after being an undersized defenseman in junior and filled out a bit, he’s got himself a proverbial screwdriver and some needlenose pliers or something. His tool set is modest at best, but at least he can now make some things happen.

    I don’t particularly think Tanev’s offense is unsustainable, even if his goal scoring pace falls off – two more over the final 43 games seems plausible. If someone suggested at the beginning of the year that he’d be on pace for roughly 26 points, I wouldn’t have found that number unreasonable. Maybe he can even build on his point scoring pace too if Henrik’s praise gets him some reps on the powerplay in place of Hamhuis.

    • No one thought the offensive tools were there because they never have been at any level he has ever played at. Dear god have you seen his slap shot? I have seen him fall twice this year alone in attempts from the blue line.

      While I agree I see some natural instinct there, I think his best instinct is knowing when not to pinch or join the rush (an attribute not shared by most of our dmen).

      Tanev has 1 shot from 1 spot. I like it, he doesn’t pretend to something he is not.

      If you told me that Tanev would end up with nearly 10 goals and 25 + points by the end of this season I would have called you a liar. And if you tell anyone you were expecting it, you are one.

      • I don’t know about you, but I think it would have been more of a stretch to suggest that Jared Spurgeon, Andre Benoit and Nikita Nikitin are all obvious definitively better offensive options than Tanev, which is essentially what you’re suggesting when you claim that anyone expecting ~20-25 points from Tanev was a “liar.”

        Tanev had over 0.8 pts/gp in Junior A, and about 0.7 pts/gp in the NCAA. Not bad for a defenseman who’s tools have “never been there at any level he’s ever played at.”

        • Where exactly are you pulling those numbers ? The one season he played for R.I.T he had 0.7 pts per game. But in his Junior A numbers are under .5 per game and that numer is only that high because of 1season where he had 37 a.
          His totals from junior A through the Ahl are not what anyone would classify as ‘instinctively offensive’.
          282 gp 19g 111a 0.46 pts per game

          Not exactly lighting the lamp numbers

          Spurgeon was putting up decent numbers in the W which is more than a few stps above the NCAA and OJ. And Benoit is an offensive defenseman … So are you just comparing these guys because they are similar stature?

          The only reason I was suggesting it is because Tanev has never produced consistently at a high level. Thus anyone who said they would predict these (projected) numbers would be a liar.

          I would love to see him light it up, I just don’t see it continuing at its current pace. But my man crush on the kid happened long before he ever rippled the twine for the first time in the NHL, the rest is icing.

  • Chris Tanev got to where he is on the basis of hockey mind, cool calm collection and a bit of luck. I feel that you don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to be a good forward. You have to read the plays and players. If he’s in an offensive position, why shouldn’t he be able to put his incredible reading ability into play there?

    I suspect we shall see more of Tanev stepping up into play. His shooting skills are only going to get better, albeit predictable. But why not if you can position yourself well to use it?

  • JCDavies

    @ NM00

    Where does Demitra fall in the realm of attracting FAs? I do concede that he was a friend of Gillis.

    The guy was a legitimate 2nd liner who performed that role for a reasonable FA price. I’d put him in the Grabovski-Clarkson boat easily.

    With the Sedins occupying spots 1 and 2 on the top line and Kesler owning 2c, we lost out on who? Rick Nash? Ilya Kovalchuck?

    FAs are rare breeds that get overspent on. I don’t think Gillis’ FA record is the worst spot on his resume.

    I know you get your rocks off tearing him down, but Demitra and Sundin were legitimate FA acquisitions, and Samuelson belongs to that group as well.

    In recent years he’s brought in the BC dmen, both legit acquisitions, hometowners or not.

    How many top 6/ top 4 players do you expect Gillis to sign a year?

    • JCDavies

      “building a culture and environment in Vancouver that attracts high-end talent”

      This is the original comment to which I was responding.

      It has nothing to do with the quantity of free agents or expecting Gillis to sign a certain number of free agents every year.

      This “player friendly culture” nonsense is as ridiculous as the cap wizardry stuff.

      Because there are plenty of examples (Luongo, Schneider, Hodgson, not acquiescing to Manny’s trade request, Samuelsson’s parting shots towards management) that run counter to the player friendly narrative.

      Consider the 5 players you mention. Each acquisition can be explained without defaulting to the culture/environment stuff:

      1. Sundin (Canucks offered him the most money by far)

      2. Demitra (Gillis’ former client who signed an identical contract to Naslund in NYR)

      3. Samuelsson (not a high end talent, but quite possibly accepted the best contract offer he received).

      4. Hamhuis (local boy not unlike Willie Mitchell who chose to play in his home province after spurning Nashville, Pittsburgh & Philly at minimum).

      5. Garrison (local boy not unlike Willie Mitchell).

      I wouldn’t say the Canucks are bad at attracting high end talent just like I wouldn’t say the Canucks have been bad at managing the cap.

      But there is zero reason to believe the culture/environment nonsense and the same goes with the cap wizardry stuff…