Friday Roundtable: Are You Ready for Luca Sbisa?

The topic du jour is health, with many mainstays in the Canucks lineup set to return to their rightful spot. First on the list is Luca Sbisa, who is returning from a hand injury sustained blocking a shot.

Vancouver’s defence has struggled in the Suisse defenders absence, although I’d caution against conflating correlation with causation. Regardless, I know the people running this team couldn’t be happier to get their prized project back in the lineup, as they feel Sbisa adds an element of toughness and pugnacity otherwise lacking from their blue line.

There’s definitely an argument to be made that Sbisa doesn’t belong in the Canucks top-six, but the stark reality is that we all know he’ll be there when healthy. Which begs the question: who comes out?

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Matt Henderson

Based on what’s happened all season, I’d say it’s going to be Yannick Weber. Willie has proven he isn’t afraid to make Weber into a revolving entity and Bartkowski has had a long leash all season, I wouldn’t expect him to be pulled. Biega played well at the start, I think he might have bought some time.

Dylan Kirkby

It’s time for the Matt Bartkowski experience to take a break. As big bodies who play the meat and potatoes game that Benning so seems to love, Sbisa and Bartkowski play similar roles in the Canucks lineup.  Given that they have also both shown themselves to be very marginal NHL players, it’s only fitting that the one comes out to make way for the other.

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Ryan Biech


-4 against the Capitals and looking more and more lost with each game. It’s amazing that Sbisa is being brought back into the lineup to help stabilise the backend. What a world.

With that being said, Biega doesn’t deserve to be scratched, nor does Edler, Tanev and Hutton. So that does leave Bartkowski and Weber, and given that Weber used to use his slapshot on the PP, he stays in and Bartkowski comes out.

Grainne Downey

I think Bartkowski should come out because he has probably been the least watchable guy in a group of almost unwatchable defenseman. But I think that Weber will be the guy to come out because I think Willie sees him as less useful than Bartkowski. But if I was Willie, Bart would sit.

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Cat Silverman

Based on preference, or reality? Because preferably, you take no one out of the lineup for Sbisa; you just pretend he’s not there and leave him to rot in the press box.

Realistically, though, you take out either Weber or Bartkowski. Antoine Vermette > Mark Arcobello. Neither really deserve to get tossed out of the lineup, but you have to take out someone – and it won’t be Edler or Tanev (for obvious reasons) or Hutton (for rookie starlet-related reasons). You could take out Biega, but why do that to the team? I think Weber or Bart sits, and so it goes.

J.D. Burke

I love a good underdog story as much as the next guy, so a player like Alex Biega is right up my alley. I’ve even gone so far in the past as to opine that Biega was deserving of a depth defender role at the NHL level – if not in Vancouver, somewhere else.

The sad reality is that Biega just isn’t an everyday NHL defenceman, though. Of course, there’s an argument to be made that neither are Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber, but they’ve each a set of skills which are otherwise absent from the Canucks lineup. Skills which they should be able to leverage into maintaining their position on the Canucks depth chart.

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Biega, on the other hand, is drowning in his current role, sporting an ugly 43.8% score adjusted Corsi. For a player that can’t offer anything offensively or transitionally, that’s a piss poor indictment of Biega’s ability at the NHL level.

  • Brent

    “Based on preference, or reality? Because preferably, you take no one out of the lineup for Sbisa; you just pretend he’s not there and leave him to rot in the press box.”

    Thanks Cat. This could be the funniest, and saddest thing I read all day. With so many strange decisions the Canucks mission statement should be “Logic has nothing to do with it!”

    • Dirty30

      We have edler, tanev, Hutton. That’s our defense fill the gaps with a couple of half decent mid twenties defenders and we are solving alot of our problems.

  • Charlie Allnut

    As much as I yearn for Edler to stop all the nonsense and play for the Norris, my hopes are bobbling and turning over, and over, and over again. Wonder about Shattenkirk for Edler swap? I’m clutching at straws.

  • Cageyvet

    It is a sad state of affairs on the Vancouver defense when we are debating which of the 3 (Weber, Bartkowski or Biega) marginal 7th defenseman gets pulled out of line-up for a marginal #6 defenseman.

    Not only are these defensemen being asked to play above & beyond their capabilities they are having to play with each other. This is (IMO) the root of the problem, as the depth in organization was decimated & only just slowly being restocked over the last 2 years or so.

    I (& others) have been a proponent for quite some time, to play Pedan, as he seems to be a player that will add the sandpaper desperately needed on the back end. I gave up advocating for Pedan, as it seemed painfully obvious that Mgmt did not want him in the line-up for whatever reasons.

    These marginal type players need to be put on ice in situations in which the team & the players are best able to succeed,which is playing with capable NHL regulars. Again I suggest that it is maybe the time to split up the top pairing, at least give it a try for a period or so.

    As for who gets pulled out upon Sbisa’s return

    • Smyl and Snepsts

      As for who gets pulled out upon Sbisa’s return, based on the Washington game it would have to be Bartkowski, He was brutal, Weber only slightly better.

      (somehow lost part of post when entering it)

  • Dirty30

    Well his name IS Luca and he does live on the second floor so I guess he has to come back in. Sbisa veers between throwing good hits and causing his own team to chase around its own end for an entire shift because he gives up the puck for no good reason. However, Weber and Bartkowski are arguably worse. I just wish Sbisa could actually clear the front of the net — more than his giveaways that’s what drives me crazy about him for a guy who’s supposed to be a physical presence he loses the player in front of the net or doesn’t tie up his stick far too often.

  • Cageyvet

    Let the Sbisa bashing continue, I’m not really sure why. With a blueline that has many issues, he’s unfairly pegged as a whipping boy, IMO, given the company he has at that position. Biega deserves more praise than he receives here, Edler and Hamhuis deserve more grief.

    Tanev makes Edler look good, and Hutton is fine. The rest of the D are playing above their skill sets. Bring in one more true top 4 guy and bring back Pedan. Edler has to either be on our 2nd pairing or get traded, with him as a top 2 guy we will never be as solid as we need.

    Weber and Bartkowski, did anyone really think they were the answer? They are depth, and depth alone.

    • Cageyvet

      I agree for the most part. We need a 2nd pairing right shot defenseman. Maybe trade Vrbata for Jeff Petry from the Habs. Hammer no longer belongs on the 2nd. Not sure where he fits. Benning has a tough decision to make.

      Tanev – Edler

      Hutton – Petry

      Sbisa – Pedan

      Biega – Subban

      We need to run with 8 not 7 defensemen next year. Bring up Subban to man the power play. Both Weber and Bartkowski are UFAs next season. This being a contract year for them, you think they would give it their all.

    • Smyl and Snepsts

      Salo left and the defense fell apart.

      If he was injured less, he’d be more well known as one of the top d-men in the league, in my mind. He was so good defensively and in the corners.

  • Dirty30

    I believe that I will start the Luca Sbisa fan club. In a trendy, hipster market like Vancouver it should be a natural to support a marginal talent with niche appeal. I look forward to being totally unappreciated by the mainstream.

    Our T-shirts will read, “I liked Sbisa before it was cool,” and we will bring the “LUUUUUUUUU!” cheer back to Rogers (our version will be “LUUUUUUUca!”).

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    Trade away Weber AND Bartkowski and get Sbisa and Pedan in the lineup. We desperately need some size and aggression on the back end. Neither Weber or Bartkowski are capable of breaking up the other teams cycle. Weber is only here for his slaps hot and Pecan shoots it harder.

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    Trade away Weber AND Bartkowski and get Sbisa and Pecan in the lineup. We desperately need some size and aggression on the back end. Neither Weber or Bartkowski are capable of breaking up the other teams cycle. Weber is only here for his slapshot and Pedan shoots it harder.