Canucks Army Monthly Player Grades – Defensemen, Jan 5th, 2015

Player Report Cards

By popular demand, we have moved the player grades feature from a weekly feature to a monthly feature that will run on the first Monday of every month. Since our friend Moneypuck looks at monthly performances in his Deep Dive, these grades will focus on the season-long performance of Canucks defense. The grades for forwards ran earlier this morning.

Let’s get started then. Read past the jump!

2 Hamhuis

  • Hamhuis’ play wasn’t exactly spectacular when he went down with a leg injury. Still, he has been a pillar of strength since he signed with the Canucks, and he can’t return to replace Ryan Stanton or Luca Sbisa fast enough.
3 Bieksa

  • Once a stalwart on Vancouver’s blueline, Bieksa’s play looks to have been eroding. Some of this is going from playing with a legitimate first-pairing guy like Dan Hamhuis to playing with pretty marginal players like Luca Sbisa and Ryan Stanton, but his offense has all but vanished too. Not a good sign on a team that already needs blueline help.
5 Sbisa

  • Luca Sbisa has undertaken a very defense-oriented deployment this season, and not fared very well at all. He’s a team-low minus-7 on the year with a pretty poor 46.8% Corsi, and has looked brutal to the eye test too at times. This is pretty much in line with his play through his career where he’s consistently been a poor possession guy that carries a well below average PDO.
6 Weber

  • When it comes to Yannick Weber, he’s provided pretty much all you can reasonably ask of him: good offense from a depth guy, but not much else. He’s been able to keep his head above water in terms of possession, but a lot of that has to do with a 58% offensive zone start rate. 

8 Tanev

  • Vancouver would be totally lost this season without the play of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. While their numbers are modest by top-pairing D standards, they’ve been carrying an exceptionally heavy burden, and getting the Canucks out of tough situations. Without Tanev on the ice, Vancouver is just outside the bottom-5 puck possession teams in the NHL.
18 Stanton

  • There isn’t much to say about Ryan Stanton’s play this season other than “oh god please make it stop.” One has to think that Bobby Sanguinetti has to be as good or better of an option at this point.
23 Edler

  • Alex Edler’s production at even strength has all but dried up this season, but he’s made up for it with strong defense and rock-solid special teams play. He’s playing 24 minutes per game against top competition and coming out ahead. The lack of production is a concern, but he’s still Vancouver’s best defender so far.

  • orcasfan

    I shudder to think where the grades of this group would be without the emergence of Edler and Tanev this year.

    PS Thanks for getting these up early Rhys. Nice Job. I think you’ve caught NM00 sleeping in today.

  • Fred-65

    Certainly miss Hamhuis. But on the bright side IMO Stanton is returning to earlier form. I cannot for the life of me understand why Corrado is not up here playing or as you say give Saniguetti a chnace. Conclusion WD does not like young players

    • Fred-65

      WD has given Horvat and Vey more opportunities than their play has merited.

      If anything, this new regime is willing to live with young player growing pains slightly more than the previous regime though it’s pretty early to judge.

      There simply isn’t a lot of young talent to plug into the lineup…

      • Mantastic

        Deploying Vey and Horvat are out of necessity, as there aren’t any players that can step into their places, due to the lack of depth.

        WD wants to win, first and foremost, and will dress whatever line up it takes to due so.

        • Mantastic

          I more or less agree with you on the depth, though I would phrase it differently.

          The Canucks are, at minimum, a low end 1st line or strong 2nd line centre away from contending.

          Hence, Bonino is the 2LC when he should be the 3LC and Richardson is the 3LC when he should be the 4LC.

          Vey couldn’t hack it at centre and Horvat is pretty much only here because the Canucks are short on centres.

          Personally, I think the Canucks have enough middle to bottom of the roster forwards to contend.

          They are simply a core centre short.

          And maybe a winger and depth defenseman or two as well…

          • Mantastic

            i agree with your assessment of the forward depth.

            but i do believe they have enough depth defensemen but they are missing some core defensemen. their middle rotation is too weak to truly contend.

          • Larionov18

            That appears to be where it’s headed as Hamhuis and Bieksa may very well be past their best days and the Canucks likely do not have the young defenseman ready to take over.

            Barring a rip off trade or two, I think the Canucks are going to spend the next few years on a slow but steady decline and management will continue to have to put out fires as they emerge.

            Swapping out Kesler and Luongo for Bonino and Miller has diluted the core of this team.

            Declines from the Sedins, Hamhuis and Bieksa will make things even more challenging.

            And I’d be surprised if the Canucks have any internal options that can replace their former stars in what is left of the Sedin era.

            I suppose squeaking into the playoffs and hoping to get lucky 4 times is the realistic goal moving forward.

            50 years here we come…

          • Hamhuis struggled over a short stretch and then got injured. He hasn’t played enough to warrant saying he’s “well past [his] best days”. Bieksa’s always been up-and-down, but you may be right about him.

            Regarding the necessity of playing Vey and Horvat, I don’t agree. Matthias has played centre most of his career, Cal O’Rielly is tearing it up in the AHL, and Nick Jensen has shown that he’s at least able to keep up with play at the NHL level. The team could easily swap out Vey and Horvat for O’Rielly and Jensen and would probably be better for it. I imagine Vey and Horvat are sticking around with an eye to the longer term – Linden, Benning, and Desjardins recognize the team is good but not great and probably not a realistic cup contender, so they’re happy to give the young guys some experience so long as the team is still playing decently, in the hopes that they’ll develop into good NHLers sooner rather than later.

          • orcasfan

            That’s true, and it would definitely improve their chances. That said, playoffs, small sample sizes, etc. etc.

            The current playoff format puts a lot of good teams in a tough first round to get out – I’m looking at the Central division specifically.

            Some teams are going to be annual contenders, peak, and go into decline rarely, maybe even never making it to the conference final simply by having the misfortune to share a division with another peaking team. San Jose vs. LA and St. Louis vs. Chicago are what mostly come to mind for me.

      • Larionov18

        He did not have to take the Ducks 7th dman. Rather Bonino and the 10th pick then that epic give away machine. Makes me want Aaron Rome back. No way AV would have played Sbisa.

        • Larionov18

          “He did not have to take the Ducks 7th dman.”

          On what are you basing this?

          It would be like saying Tallon didn’t have to take back Bernier in the Ballard deal because Bernier was an overpaid 4th liner.

          Sbisa was a contract dump.

          Now if you want to argue that Sbisa should be scratched in favour of one of the other utlity defenseman, that is fair game.

          “Rather Bonino and the 10th pick”

          You’re delusional if you believe the Ducks were just going to swap out Sbisa with the 10th pick in that trade.

          The Miller & Vrbata signings, Garrison trade and Virtanen selections are transactions that can be criticized because Benning had a choice on all of those moves.

          The only alternative on accepting the best offer available on Kesler from a team to which he would waive his NTC was to hold on to him.

          Along with the 2014 trade deadline, that would be another opportunity missed to trade him as his asset value would continue to erode…

          • Larionov18

            We can agree to disagree. He should have said Kesler will sit then. They should have held out for the 10th pick at min. trading Kesler for a contract dump, a 3rd liner and the 24th is just a bad trade. The contract dumps adds insult to injury. Rather have nothing and Kesler sitting in the press box. Only a 50% chance McCann even works out. That is the record with late first round picks. At least Gillis got a ninth for Schneider. Call me bitter.

          • WTF

            Yes because teams really want to devalue their assets by sitting them in the pressbox.

            I do agree, though, that the trade for Kesler was underwhelming.

            But it was always going to be that way with a max effort player entering his 30s and a NTC.

            I would rather have Schneider than (Miller and) Horvat…

          • Larionov18

            Schneider was awful against the Kings in the playoffs. He is an average goalie. He had to be pulled in the finals due to cramps. Too afraid in big games. I know I was in the minority but I wanted both goalies traded. I hated that Luongo contract from day 1. I was praying it would be cancelled like the Kovi contract was. Lou was terrible against the Hawks when they signed him to that ridiculous contract. He was great v L.A though both times. His drama though was another story.Not Sold on Bo yet but the pick was a good return. Who they picked is another thing though. I had both Arms in the air when I heard about the Luongo trade.

  • Mantastic

    After Hammy went down with looked like a season ending injury, I think MOST Canucks fans would be pleased with where they are now. In the middle of the playoff race with a couple of games in hand.

    If Hammy comes back by the end of the month and the Canucks avoid extended losing streaks, they could be poised to be a real threat.a solid top four defensemen would make a big difference in Millers play. Odd man rushes and his aggressive style mean he relies on his DMen to tie up forwards in the slot or prevent passes through the middle that lead to open nets.

    I would be down with giving younger guys a look compared to the play of Stanton and Sbisa. It’s funny watching Sbisa play, because if you could edit his ice time you could see a top four Dman. He can skate/hit and shoot, but he doesn’t do it in the same game or week! Wonder if Willie and Benning have changed their tune about Sbisa and his potential?

  • Mantastic

    After Hammy went down with looked like a season ending injury, I think MOST Canucks fans would be pleased with where they are now. In the middle of the playoff race with a couple of games in hand.

    If Hammy comes back by the end of the month and the Canucks avoid extended losing streaks, they could be poised to be a real threat.a solid top four defensemen would make a big difference in Millers play. Odd man rushes and his aggressive style mean he relies on his DMen to tie up forwards in the slot or prevent passes through the middle that lead to open nets.

    I would be down with giving younger guys a look compared to the play of Stanton and Sbisa. It’s funny watching Sbisa play, because if you could edit his ice time you could see a top four Dman. He can skate/hit and shoot, but he doesn’t do it in the same game or week! Wonder if Willie and Benning have changed their tune about Sbisa and his potential?

  • WTF

    Edler has had a serious rebound year. I agree with his stellar play the team would not be as competitive. And Tanev continues to grow as a solid pro defenseman.