After Russian president Vladimir Putin put the gold medals around the necks of Team Canada following the squad’s clinical 2-0 shutout win over Finland at the World Championship in Moscow on May 22, Connor McDavid was asked if his group of teammates included an unsung hero, who may not have earned as much praise as he deserved.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“It’s tough to single one out,” said McDavid, whose only goal of the tournament proved to be the gold-medal winner. “I think one that comes to mind is Chris Tanev. He was unbelievable defensively and all over the ice. It was the whole group effort. We had 23 guys who were just amazing.”

Once the Canadian players got back on home soil, others also sang Tanev’s praises in their local radio interviews.

“I was flying back with (Tanev’s defence partner) Morgan Rielly and we were talking about just how good of a player he is,” Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher told TSN1040 in Vancouver. “He was so consistent for us night after night.”

“On defense, I was pretty impressed with Tanev,” two-way demon Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators concurred. “You look at his numbers, I think he gets 20-25 points a year, but he does a lot of things that help your team win. He was probably our most steady defenceman from a defensive perspective all tournament.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Considering that Gallagher suits up with 2013 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban when he’s doing his day job with the Habs and Stone’s Senators teammate is two-time Norris champ Erik Karlsson, this pair knows a thing or two about high-end blueliners. It seems that Tanev stood out to them thanks to his smart, reliable play—perhaps in contrast to the high-risk, high-reward styles that we see in the NHL from both Subban and Karlsson.

Throughout the World Championship, Tanev and Rielly formed Canada’s top defensive pair. They did great work as the team limited its opposition to just 11 goals scored in 10 games.

Tanev was also a regular on the tournament’s best penalty-killing unit. Canada surrendered just two power-play goals in 29 shorthanded situations for a 93.10 percent efficiency rating.

Canucks fans have watched Tanev deploy his steadily-reliable style on the ice for the last six seasons. He’s now a fixture on the team’s top pairing with Alex Edler, locked up for another four years at a reasonable cap hit of $4.45 million per season, per General Fanager.

The World Championship was the first time ever that the undrafted Tanev, a native of Toronto, was given a chance to play for his country. At 26, he was the oldest member of the Canadian blue line, but he earned coach Bill Peters’ trust and played a leadership role ahead of six highly-touted first-round draft picks.

Ryan Ellis, Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Matt Dumba and Cody Ceci were all picked in the top 15 in their respective draft years and have extensive international hockey experience from U18s and World Juniors. Rielly, 22, and Ellis, 25, have even played at a previous World Championship, in Belarus in 2014.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

On the young Canadian blue line in Russia, only Michael Matheson, Ben Hutton and Tanev came in as greenhorns.

True to his laid-back reputation, Tanev had no trouble adjusting to the larger ice surface of international hockey. “It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a bit different, but it’s definitely fun.

“There’s a lot of room out there, especially in the end zones. You can get the cycle for a long period of time—that’s a little different from back home.”

When asked about being a leader on the Canadian blueline, Tanev demurred. “There’s enough guys here who have won a lot for Canada,” he said. ”Those guys are definitely the leaders. I’m just trying to watch what they do and learn how they lead.”

As for his impression of Team Canada head coach Bill Peters? “He’s very intense,” Tanev said midway through the tournament, after the Canadians had amassed a perfect 5-0 record. “We’re very detailed, very structure oriented, and that’s why we’ve done so well so far.”

In 10 games, Tanev finished the tournament with just one assist and nine shots on goal—pretty typical of the defensively responsible but decidedly non-threatening player we’ve come to know in Vancouver.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The World Championship experience may have inspired Tanev to add more tools to his toolbox this summer.

The Canucks can definitely use more offense from the blue line next season. It would be great to see Tanev eclipse his career-best 20 points in 2016-17.

  • BR(j)ED

    Chris is my favourite Canuck since Brent Sopel.

    Actually he’s got a pretty similar flow now that I think of it!

    Now, if he can only develop a Harold Schnepts moustache , he’ll be the complete defenseman.

  • SnatchByThePool

    Here in Victoria we are having our inaugural
    Mankini Hockey League tryouts.

    All are welcome, I will let you know the when’s and where’s by next week for all those interested.

  • SnatchByThePool

    What I’m still trying to figure out is how Tanev scored six (!) goals under Tortorella. I didn’t even think he took six shots a year.

    He really looked fantastic in the world championships, paired up with Reilly (one of my favorite young d-men in the league) really played to the strengths of both. I have wondered if a Tanev-Hutton and Edler-Gudbrandson pairing might work better in terms of a two-way and shutdown pairing in our top two.

    • SnatchByThePool

      I would personally still root for an Edler/Tanev pairing, as I trust Edler more on defense than Hutton.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Hutton, but if we’re making a shut down pair, Edler and Tanev makes more sense to me.

      • FredTheCaveman

        Yes, you’re likely right – it really does make for a pretty strong 2nd pairing to have Gudbrandson and Hutton. Really curious to see who that 3rd one will be — as much as I like Hamhuis I’m hoping he’s not re-signed and we go with Sbisa and Tryamkin.

        • FredTheCaveman

          Agreed . Would like to see Pedan being introduced to the lineup a lot more though. Maybe a 3 man rotation with the bottom pairing ( 2 in, 1 out). Biega being the 8th defenseman that gets spot duty on defense and 4th line.(as per Benning)

          This would all be contingent on whether any of these players get traded of course.

          Would also like to at least get a look at all of Subban, Stecher, Larsen, Nillson & Sautner some time throughout the season. We need to see what they offer and of they fit into the the moving forward or do we cut bait with them.

        • FredTheCaveman

          I agree. If you think about just next year, then


          is a great deal better than the tire fire they trotted out last year. Having Sbisa’s $3.6M sitting in the press box isn’t a great use of cap space but it is what it is.

          The problem with re-signing Hamhuis isn’t next year, it’s his cap hit four years from now. If we’re thinking long term I’d rather have Sbisa playing on the third pair because after 2017-18 you can let him walk and apply his cap space to another defensive upgrade.

    • Dirty30

      The problem would be having to break out the stylus and clay tablets and explain it to Coach while he keeps asking “Yeah but what about Vey?”

      Management is here to prove that meat and potatoes and constipated thinking will get the job done.

      That said, having Edler-Tanev as top pair 1a and Gudbranson-Hutton as top pair 1b has the potential to make both pairings better. Hutton has a massive upgrade from Sbisa in Gudbranson and if they can take some assignments and minutes from Edler-Tanev, that pair will function better as well.

      I think Edler-Tanev-Hutton got over-worked last season to no ones benefit. I’m not expecting miracles but balance in the D is an excellent start.

  • FredTheCaveman

    Interested to see if this talk of Tanev working with a shot trainer this summer translates to any marked improvement on his scoring next season. I’m not holding my breath, but it sure would be a nice little surprise if he hit like 30 points next season.

  • SnatchByThePool

    Tanev & Elder will be better players once we have players to protect them,Remember at one time Elder was a big hitter.There is no doubt Mr Canuck & JB will obtain some more meat & potato players(Lucic-come home to u team & mum & U will be instantly loved & adored as an impact player-Ladd(t0p 6),m martin,Bouwer D Weise(bottom 6).This will transform the team into a potential playoff team which can go far with a blend of youth & veteran,big & mid size etc

  • Dirty30

    I personally hoping that someone like Larsen comes in and surprises, and forms a third pairing with Tryamkin.

    Pedan would be nice too. I think Benning is really hoping that Larsen pans out on the 3rd pairing though.