Canucks Send Rookie Forward to the Minors; Other News and Notes

We knew it was going to happen; it was just a matter of
when.  When rookies are in the NHL line
up getting a cup of coffee with the big club it’s rare that they can stay with
them for long.  Soon they have to be sent
down to the lower leagues to hopefully continue their development. 

Read past the jump to learn all about one of Canucks Army’s favourite rookies and his time in the NHL.

Brandon DeFazio has just finished his two game stint with
the Vancouver Canucks, his first time in the NHL.  The 26 year-old was undrafted and if he was a
year younger would still be eligible for the Calder Trophy.  He played four years of NCAA hockey with
Clarkson University until 2010-2011. 
Since then he has moved around various AHL clubs with
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bridgeport and for the last two seasons Utica. 

DeFazio was not a bad choice for a call up from Utica with
the recently injury plagued Vancouver Canucks. 
With Jensen and Horvat already called up it makes sense to have DeFazio
come up to Vancouver to play minimal minutes and allow top prospects to
continue in big development roles. 

DeFazio was third last
on the Comets in SoG/G with 2.68 and was able to score 34 points in 76
games.  DeFazio played against tough
competitions with strong teammates and medium ice time and was able to emerge
with a +10% ES rel Gf%.  Through 13 games
DeFazio has scored 4 goals and 2 assists while increasing his SoG/G
rate to 2.84.  For someone who would be
brought up to the NHL for only a few games there are much worse choices the
Canucks could have made.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.20.05 PM

We only have a two-game sample to look at the NHL but we can
review how DeFazio has performed.  We
absolutely have to remember this is very much the definition of small sample
sizes.  All data in the above usage chart
is from the two game DeFazio played in at 5v5 and comes from

DeFazio has a Zone-Start % of near 60% (+3.86%), while
facing some of the easiest competition of all forwards.  He averaged the lowest of all ice time at
6:50 a game (21 seconds less than Horvat) and walked away with a -9.32 Corsi
Rel (while positing a positive Fenwick Rel. Small samples are fun!). 

All in all, DeFazio has been waiting years to play in the NHL
and finally was given an opportunity.  He’s
a valuable member in the AHL with the Utica Comets and we can’t draw much off
of his NHL sample size but it’s unlikely we will see DeFazio much in the NHL
this year unless the Canucks face a large rash of injuries.  

Speaking more generally, the fact that DeFazio can fill in adequately at the NHL level says good things about the depth that Jim Benning and co. have assembled in Utica. Beyond the goaltending of Markstrom, the additions of top-end AHLers like Dustin Jeffery and Bobby Sanguinetti have turned Utica into a serious contender, and created a positive environment for young players like Hunter Shinkaruk and Brendan Gaunce to develop in.

Notes From Practice:

  • DeFazio’s demotion likely means that at least one of Derek Dorsett, Radim Vrbata, or Zack Kassian are ready to return to the lineup. All three joined the Canucks this morning for practice.
  • Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa were both absent today. No word on Sbisa, however Bieksa is expected to play tomorrow against Arizona.
  • With only 5 D present, Zack Kassian was the odd forward out, skating instead as a defenseman: 

  • This may be just a practice thing, or it may mean that Kassian will sit out next game in favour of Nicklas Jensen or Bo Horvat. He still may not be quite ready to return from injury too, so we’ll avoid reading too much into this.
  • Vancouver has also recalled Bobby Sanguinetti from Utica, presumably as insurance: