Every month, our friend MoneyPuck runs a deep dive on how the Canucks
have been performing, and he has been doing quite an excellent and detailed job
on it. When you are running a team you
need to often analyze your talent and more importantly you need to put them in
the context of the league to see how they are performing to see where your
Read past the jump as we analyze the Canucks defence corps
relative to the league to see how they are performing.
People often look at players and remember how good they were
rather than acknowledging how they are currently performing. This is an error when you have an aging core
that is only going to degrade as time goes on.
This is a key motivation to why we want to analyze Vancouver’s defence.
To do this, we ran a similar experiment to Domenic Galamini’s HERO charts looking at 6 key
statistics for NHL defencemen. These
statistics are: Time on Ice per Game (TOI), Corsi For per 60 (CF/60), Corsi
Against per 60 (CA/60), Corsi For % (CF%), how your most common teammates perform
with you vs without you (CF%relTM) and Points per 60 (Points/60). We look at all NHL defencemen who have played
at least 300 minutes this season. We
then group them in 60s to look at the minimum value required in each statistic
so we can label how the Canucks perform relative to the league this season.
Our baseline is as follows:
And here’s the quick summary of each Canuck:
- Chris Tanev is a very good Corsi suppressor, as he cuts shot attempts against when he is on the ice. Thomas Drance looked at this in greater detail yesterday. The biggest knock against Tanev is that he is not an offensive producer.
His Points/60 are low despite a normal PDO, and isn’t helped by his
Corsi-For/60. He gets top pairing ice
time compared to the Canucks, but is just 2 seconds per game shy of the 1st
pairing bin. Essentially, this can be considered 1st pairing TOI though. In short handed situations Tanev is in the top 10 of Corsi Against/60, showing his defensive prowess.
- Alex Edler is the other Canucks defencemen who qualifies as
a 1st pairing D. He
is 1st pairing quality across the board except in Points/60 and Corsi-For
/60. Given than his PDO is normal and his
personal shot generation is high, this is likely a result of playing with Tanev and other forwards who have struggled to generate points at a good rate for their TOI.
- Dan Hamhuis is a surprise to see performing as a 2nd
pairing defencemen this year, given it was only last year he was considered one
of the NHL’s top defencemen and even made team Canada. He is being deployed on the Canucks’ 2nd
pairing, has a normal PDO and adequate point generation, while his biggest flaw is the Corsi generation with him
on the ice.
- Frank Corrado is a bit tricky to classify as he has such
limited time on ice with the Canucks this year.
Willie Desjardins has trusted him enough to play him often on the Canucks’ second
pairing, but relative to the league he doesn’t see a lot of ice time. With a PDO of 95.0 it’s no surprise to see
his Points/60 so low, especially combined with a low Corsi-For/60. He has been excellent at preventing shots
against, which is great to see from such a young
player, as we know he can improve from here.
- Adam Clendening does not yet appear to have the trust of the coach as
he has bottom pairing (relative to the Canucks) ice time. Despite a 103.9 PDO, his Points/60 also has
been very low, which could point to his teammates as well. Still in nearly every facet of the game, he
has been performing like a top pairing defencemen, and like Corrado will still
improve from here. He does only have 12 NHL games this season so we need to watch how he performs at the end of the
year to see if this is his true talent or not.
- Kevin Bieksa is going to surprise most people. People worry about the Sedins degrading, but
this 33 year old has had it the worst. He’s
played on the 2nd pairing most frequently with Dan Hamhuis, but despite
that, he is performing as well as the bottom tier of NHL defencemen. He should be the D that the Canucks try and move, and given his past history he could likely still fetch a
high price until people realize he is no longer the first-pairing guy he once was. It is unlikely that he will be moved or can be
- Luca Sbisa is no surprise – we’ve all seen the pizza deliveries. He’s a third pairing-D in nearly every way this season and
with a low PDO that isn’t out of line with his career averages, you see his Points/60 drop to replacement level. Hopefully he is not signed by the Canucks
this summer for his price tag, but given he was acquired in the Kesler trade I
could see management trying to hold on to him.
- Yannick Weber is a mixed bag. He has played on the Canucks third pairing, but
has replacement level TOI relative to the league. He’s a third pairing defencemen with some
second pairing offensive upside. You
can’t ask too much from him.
- Ryan Stanton is a weird case study, as his play has fallen apart based on what we expected at the start of the year. Last year, his underlying metrics were excellent and he was considered a steal from Chicago. This year, he has turned the
opposite. It is common for players to
ride high or low scoring percentages, but I’ve never heard of players riding
high or low possession percentages for full seasons. Ryan Stanton was considered a first pairing / fringe second pairing defencemen last year in all of these statistics, but he is clearly not fitting in well with Willie Desjardins’
systems. He is hurting everyone he plays
with, he is bad at preventing shot attempts, and he is doing that in very
limited ice time. Given his performance
the season before I would think it’s worth keeping him for another year to give
him another chance (salary cap dependent). His league minimum cap hit is of no concern to the Canucks though.
For a team that wishes to be competitive in the playoffs, the
defence corps of the Canucks is their best asset. They have a good spread of players across all
pairings, including a few young
defencemen who are looking to be excellent additions in their limited
action. The biggest flaw across the
board is the general limited ability for offence generation from the
blueline, which hurts when the weaker forward group cannot score as it is.
The defence corps should be at the bottom of the Canucks
worries, as they should focus on the forward group and try to implement an acquisition
plan to acquire more high-end talent. The
biggest changes I would try to make would be to move Kevin Bieksa while he has value,
to not re-sign Luca Sbisa, and to make sure that Chris Tanev gets a new contract and is here for the next few years. Of course, acquiring an 18-year-old blue chip
defence prospect would not be bad either, but that will have to wait for the draft.