Report: Chris Tanev to be shut down for the remainder of the season; What’s Next?

Considering the team’s outlook moving forward (hint: it rhymes with Hank), and the fact that Chris Tanev left Monday’s game against the Lightning after just 8 minutes of play (especially after having missed 7 games prior to the Olympics with what I assume is a related injury), this isn’t exactly a surprise by any means. 

But now that it’s official and we have some sort of premature closure, it’s worth paying tribute to Chris Tanev’s breakout campaign. We should also use this as an opportunity to speculate about his future, and what he’s worth to the Vancouver Canucks moving forward.

The Canucks find themselves in an interesting spot with Tanev heading into this summer, as he’s set to be a Restricted Free Agent again following the 1-year deal he signed last August. I’ll readily admit that I was wrong about Tanev, underestimating his upside and ability to earn himself a bigger payday after settling for that little $1.5 million bridge of a deal. 

He played nearly 21 minutes per game forming a strong top defensive pairing with Dan Hamhuis this season. Aside from Hamhuis, he was unquestionably the team’s most reliable blueliner on a consistent basis. But as steady as he was at 5v5, it was his play on the penalty kill – logging exactly 3 minutes per game – where he made his bones, in particular; there’s no denying that he was one of the main reasons the team has been a top-5 unit on that front all year long. 

We all knew that he was capable of being fundamentally sound defensively and doing the types of things well that lent themselves well in that regard, but his 6 goals and 17 points were somewhat of a surprise. If he’s capable of chipping in with the odd offensive play here and there – which, considering he’s 24 years old, isn’t exactly unfathomable at this point – then he’ll continue to be more valuable than I had previously envisioned.

But there’s one giant elephant in the room that we simply can’t overlook when evaluating his case: I still can’t help but have my doubts about how Tanev will hold up physically as his career progresses, despite his still youthful age. He finished 17th in blocked shots this year, endearing himself to both John Tortorella and the fans with his willingness to sacrifice his body at any given moment for the betterment of the team. 

Combine that, with the seemingly extensive number of massive hits he takes throughout games, and it seems like we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time holding our breath as he limps off of the ice or gets looked at by a trainer on the bench. If you’ve been taking shots every time we’ve heard “and Tanev heads down the tunnel” during a Canucks game, then this season hasn’t been nearly as boring for you as it has been for the rest of us.

He’s a fine player, and it’s for all of the reasons which I’ve lauded him for that he has earned himself a sizeable raise in pay, but forgive me if I’m still weary of committing to him long-term. Maybe I’ll feel more confident once I’ve seen him hold up for more than 64 games in a given season. Of course if you don’t pay him and he goes on to prove that the injuries in the past were more of a fluke than a legitimate flaw, then his price-tag suddenly skyrockets even further. 

Either way there’s going to be a gamble that needs to be made by the team’s decision-makers, which is kind of ironic given how little of that he actually does himself every time he steps out onto the ice.

  • BrudnySeaby

    Huh Dimitri? I’m a bit surprised about the overall negative tone of this article to be honest. You generally write fairly unbiased pieces.

    I think he played great hockey, gave the Canucks a chance on most nights and didn’t nearly (at all?) make as many boneheaded mistakes as Edler or Bieksa (always caught in the corners, leaving the net unguarded or making an errand outlet pass) or even Hamhuis during the early parts of the season.

    It’s partially bad luck that he is injured again.

    Regarding the hits he absorbs; here’s hoping we have a new coach next season, along with a new D-coach who could teach him how to avoid most of those hits.

    If durability would become an issue, I would hope it wouldn’t manifest itself too much in the next 4-5 years at least.

    • Dimitri Filipovic

      I lauded him for his uber reliable defensive play (particularly on the PK), and even brought up how I was pleasantly surprised about his offensive contributions. It truly was a breakout campaign and I’m as appreciative of his game as any rational human being out there. With that being said, you can’t talk about his future without taking into account that he is already building up a littered injury history. Don’t see how that can be misconstrued as me being “negative”, or “biased”..

  • Tough to justify paying any of these donkeys a substantial raise. What is Tanvev’s agent going to say? He sucked less than most on the team?

    I recognize that NHL level salaries are more to do with comparable players than team success.

    But why would you pay Tanev on par with a top 3 or 4 d man from a team like LA (Voynov – $4.1 mill) or Columbus (Tyutin – $4.5 mill)?

    Those guys played a material role in the team’s success. Tanev played a material role in the Canucks’ poor season.

    I like Tanev but if he’s asking for more than $3 mill a year – show him the door

    • Unless it’s a one year contract, Tanev isn’t getting less than $3 million.

      Showing him the door (like the org has done with Grabner, Hodgson, Schneider, Lou & Kesler soon enough) would be misguided.

      This is a big market team not Glendale.

      Considering the type of player Tanev is, his trade value is unlikely to line up with his actual on-ice contributions…

    • asdf

      Are you really relating the success of LA and Columbus on those two players?

      Voynov is an offensive dman, and while he is very good, he doesnt face to the opposing teams toughest competition, and gains much of his points on the PP. Tanev and Voynov have the same amount of points at even strength, and Tanev has twice as many goals without playing any time on the powerplay.

      The only thing Voynov brings more of is physical play. Tanev leads in all other catagories including blocks, giveaways (both by substantial margins), takeaways, missed shots, shot percentage, +/-.

      Tyutin in the same except not as good as Voynov.

      I would take Tanev over either.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Tanev has been a fantastic player, though he needs to stop trying to block shots with his hand. He should get his body in the way but protect his hands and feet.
    I think a big part of why the Canucks won’t make the playoffs this year is because of the number of injuries they sustained blocking shots.

    • asdf

      Interesting point.

      It has been a puzzle to me as to why this coaching staff preaches shot blocking. Make no sense, considering how fast players are firing shots nowadays with the new composite sticks. Why not let the most protected player (ie the goalie) handle the shot and let the defensemen clear the nets off opposing players/rebounds.

      Maybe someone with more inside knowledge of the game can enlighten me…

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    He’s had a solid year and has earned a medium term (3-4 year) contract at top 4 money ($3-4 mil/yr).

    The biggest win of the Gillis administration since Ehrhoff.

    I’d like to see him stick around since, at his age, he’s one of the few notable players that can realistically play on the next contending Canucks team.

    And the team really doesn’t have the defenseman prospects behind Tanev to give him up…

  • Dimitri Filipovic

    Tanev has always been undersized for a defenceman, and has always managed to hold his own. Considering neither of the injuries this season have come from physical play, I don’t see his body breaking down being an issue.

    Any player has a chance of getting hurt blocking shots and physical stature will do nothing to improve those chances whatsoever.

    We also need to keep in mind that this was only Tanevs 2nd full season with the team, with last years lockout shortened season being his first.

    Tanev has easily been the Canucks most reliable blueliner all season, and improves the play of any player he happens to be paired with.
    With the youth movement this team is looking to instill moving forward, Tanev is an integral piece of that puzzle.

  • asdf

    Missed the chance to trade him at the deadline. That said if someone comes in with an offer sheet, we get a 1st and a 3rd for anything over $3.3m. If we can sign him for something between $3-4m we should keep him though. I’m definitely a little hesitant on his performance this year – he’s been with Hamhuis most of the time, which will obviously make him look better. He’s also tailor made for Torterella’s system – unlike every other d-man we have.

  • asdf

    I agree with Dimitri about Tanev’s questionable durability. The reason why he rarely makes mistakes is that he doesn’t rush the play, leaving himself open to being hit and hit hard at times. Would he still be the same effective player if he rushed plays to avoid getting hit?

    I too was pleasantly surprised by his bump in offensive output this year. Is this an anomaly or a taste of things to come?

    Prior to this trainwreck season I would’ve been happy to see him traded in a package for a better defenseman or top-6 player. After the way the Canucks have played this year I don’t think the team can afford to trade him without getting a R-shooting defenseman in return. I would be thrilled with a 3-4 year deal at $3-4M withOUT a NTC.

  • Fred-65

    Tanev like every other player has to fit into the Cap. Clearly his agent, who ever that was, once Tanevs father moved over & stood down in that capacity is none the less playing from the same hymn sheet. They ply it tough and want a lot lets hope they can find common ground. Fortunatley they have a quality replacement for him in Corrado and I suspect could turn him into a nice return if he was traded. The problem for a lot of these players and aganets is they suffer from illusions of grandeur. To get some thing you have to give some thing and any of Edler, Garrison or Bieska should be considered expendible and if they can’t move them maybe Tanev might bring more interest. Many keep slagging Gillis for not making moves and yet bristle when their players is considered. They’re all just assetts and should be looked at in those terms.

    If Tanev wants to much and hinders bringning in other players I don’t mind if he’s traded…as much as I like him

  • Fred-65

    I would take Tanev and Stanton over Garrison any day. I still think there’s too much irrational hate for Edler; he’s too young and too skilled not to keep in your top four. Not resigning Tanev would be idiotic, though I put nothing past Gillis at this point.

    I don’t know that Tanev has just flourished under Tortorella’s system, he was pretty steady and reliable before it. Perhaps its just easier for defensive d-men to adjust to. After all, how hard can “everyone collapse on the NET!!!” be?

  • asdf

    I really don’t believe there is any cause for concern. Last year, Tanev wanted a longer higher paid deal and the Canucks were trying to get under an artificially dropped cap.

    The Canucks will have more room with trade of Lu, raise of cap and hopeful dumping of Booth. Tanev will never be Paul Coffey, but he does what a Dman should do, play D.

  • asdf

    With a new coach (*fingers crossed*), he won’t be blocking as many shots. Seriously, how many Canucks have been injured this yr blocking shots? More than any other yr, that’s for sure. This coach needs to go.

    Curious what Tanev will get this summer. I guess it might depend on what Dillon (Dallas) gets right? They’ll have a LOT of $$ committed on the back end, and still no room for Corrado. Curious what they’ll do.