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?
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.
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.
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.
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.