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.