What Shayne Gostisbehere can bring to the Canucks

There has been speculation that the Vancouver management team is currently looking to add to their blueline before next season arrives. One of those options that has been rumoured to be available is Flyers defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere.

At just 26-years-old, the Canucks would not be adding a veteran defenceman that will see their timeline of usefulness fall before this team is hopefully good again. The surging young core of this team would be supported by a player that has enough experience to make an impact but wouldn’t hurt the future in any way.

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Acquiring Gostisbehere would signal that this team is trying to figure out and build a window to compete in. Although the most recent Stanley Cup Final featured two teams that had their supposed windows close or come close to closing, the Canucks led by Pettersson and Hughes can hopefully be surrounded by some talented players.

Gostisbehere has four years remaining on his six-year contract that carries a $4.5-million cap hit — a team-friendly controlled cost that there won’t be any surrounding free agency drama. Reaching unrestricted free agency at the age of 30, any price paid for the defenceman should be well worth it for four complete seasons.

During those four years, what is currently seen as the Canucks’ future and players with high potential, will hopefully become the Canucks’ present and see that potential blossom into success. With that, Gostisbehere would be a lock within their group of top-four defencemen.

In Quinn Hughes and Troy Stecher, Vancouver already have two defenceman that can be part of the core that will find more success than recent years. Gostisbehere fits the model that those two blueliners currently fit — very mobile and heavily offensive. With Philadelphia he has been that defenceman and one of the best creators from the blue line on that team.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Gostisbehere led the Flyers’ defencemen in shot attempts for percentage, with a 50.86 CF% at 5v5. He was the only defenceman on that team last year to have over fifty per cent for on-ice shot attempts.

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Because of that distance between him and his teammates, he was able to place 29th among all NHL defencemen in shot attempt percentage relative to his teammates, with a 3.28 CF%rel — just one spot below Canucks defenceman Stecher.

Due to all of this production and the shot attempts generally going his way when he’s on the ice, he has been able to stay consistent with his amount of points. He just finished with a career-low 37 points in 78 games played, but just the previous year, Gostisbehere put up 65 points in 78 games — placing fourth among all defencemen in points.

This is all because of his heavy powerplay usage, and there’s a good reason why he had the 15th-most PP TOI during that 2017-18 season and was in the top-30 this past season.

via hockeyviz.com

Provided by hockeyviz.com, this heatmap for the Flyer’s production while the 26-year-old defenceman is on the ice demonstrates his constant ability to award his team with scoring chances. Getting an insane amount of shot attempts in that key area in front of the net, Gostisbehere is an elite power play quarterback — one of the hardest positions to truly fill on a blue line.

The powerplay was one of the only spots where Gostisbehere could find consistent teammates last season with the Flyers. Instead of being locked next to Ivan Provorov like the 2017-18 season, the other defender found himself bounce around with linemates and didn’t find a consistent fit.

There were five defencemen on the Flyers last season that played between 160 and 250 even-strength minutes with Gostisbehere, never completely staying with the same linemate for more than a couple weeks. The fact that he’s now on the trading block makes sense, something is clearly up internally but the defenceman has shown nothing but offensive capability and is certainly not a blackhole defensively.

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Only Travis Sanheim and now-Washington Capital Radko Gudas had a lower expected goals against per hour rate than Gostisbehere last season for the Flyers on the blue line.

It’s not a high bar to clear, the Flyers were one of the worst defensive teams last season, but he was still able to succeed and be an above league average defender and very, very good offensively.

On a horrid team like the Flyers, Gostisbehere seemed to be one of the rare shining lights on the back end and was not completely useless. For reasons unknown, he’s now mostly available via trade and it just seems like the prime opportunity to take advantage of a team mismanaging their current players and acquire a defenceman that is under contract for a significant amount of time.

He fits perfectly under the cap and is already a bargain for what he contributes, not like the Canucks need cap relief, but Gostisbehere has a contract that most teams would love to have.

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Aligning with the Canucks timeline for when they are hopefully on their way back from being one of the worst teams in the entire league, the contract, player, and mentality just seems to fit.

There is no reason to speculate on what he might cost within this hypothetical trade, but there should be a guarantee that he will be less expensive to acquire than any other defenceman his age with his contract and production.

Making this move just seems to obvious for what Gostisbehere can bring to the current Canucks group of defencemen. Becoming one of the most mobile and offensive blue lines in the whole league could cause some havoc and surprise, especially in the terrible division they are in.

If the Canucks are in trade discussions to acquire Gostisbehere, it shows that they are looking beyond just the short-minded rebuild and more towards just simply making this team better.

  • North Van Halen

    There’s been a solid 3 years of evidence, Benning isn’t looking for ‘short term fixes’. Even Zaitsev isn’t a ‘short term fix’ with 4 years left on his deal.
    That said, the price for SG would be/should be awfully high & Benning’s seemingly misguided refusal to deal for draft picks will make pulling this off next to impossible without including this years first or one of the core 4. I’d love to see it, I just don’t know how they would pull it off.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Dude, you already wrote this article last week. “For reasons unknown, he’s now mostly available via trade”. You’re going to have to come up with something a bit more solid than that to convince anyone that the Canucks are somehow going to acquire a cap friendly, 26 year old d-man without giving up one of their big 4.

  • Goon

    Gostisbehere is a great player, but I don’t see any sort of deal that makes sense for both the Flyers and Canucks.

    Mostly the Flyers though – why would a team that’s looking to emerge from a long-term rebuild and finally be competitive want to trade a top-pairing offensive defenceman in his prime?

  • If we were to blow the bank on an RFA defender (who should be right-handed, not a lefty like Gostisbehere), I would be more inclined to put together a package for Noah Dobson. You’d need to pay a premium but given his age and level of success, I would offer a package based around this year’s #10. For example, the #10, Tyler Madden, and Jack Rathbone for Dobson. The trade would resemble a top-six prospect (#10), top-nine prospect (Madden), and bottom-four prospect (Rathbone) for a #1 RHD defender that would be available for about 9 years (3 year ELC + 6 year extension, longer with UFA extension). And Dobson is predicted to make the NHL next season.

      • Dobson was the only guy that was projected as a #1 defender in 2018 and he had a monster D+1 year so he’s more than living up to that billing. Soderstrom is projected to be mostly a Top 4 guy and lacks the size and dominance that Dobson has demonstrated in junior. It’s a premium that I’d be willing to pay for a guy that I believe will be a #1 defender.

        • North Van Halen

          Sorry, did I miss what kind of defender Dahlen, Hughes & Bouchard were projected to be?
          Since Dobson was picked about 10 last year, and hasn’t proven anything at the NHL level, isn’t this essentially paying the price of 2 quality prospects to get a guy 1 year further ahead in his development than what will be available at 10? Thats quite a premium for 1 years development

          • I ignored Dahlen because it was obvious that no one was going to draft him except Buffalo. Hughes was projected as having top pairing potential but not a #1. Bouchard was projected mostly as Top 4, same as Boqvist. I viewed all four guys as equals last year but to be quite honest, I was a little disappointed to hear Hughes getting called over Dobson. I am still excited to have Hughes on the team.

            Is it a premium for essentially last year’s #12? Yup. Is it a worthy risk for a potential #1 that you’d have cost-controlled for nearly a decade? Yup.

            We don’t have roster players to trade so we have to trade from a position of strength and that is Benning/Brackett’s scouting prowess. In a Hockey News redraft, Madden is a 1st round pick at #31, that’s huge value for a 3rd round pick. Rathbone is projected very well given he is a 4th round pick.

          • North Van Halen

            As far as I can remember you are about the only one who has/had the assessment Dobson is a better prospect than Hughes let alone that much superior to Bouchard and a sure 1.
            If Benning & Co have the same assessment as you, that he’s at least Byram level and should have been a top 3 pick, sure. If they view it like essentially every one else, that he’s a plus prospect capable of being a top pairing guy, then that is a massive overpay for a totally lateral move.

          • NVH: As I said before, “I viewed all four guys as equals last year…” It was a real toss-up. However, when I looked at Hughes, Boqvist, Bouchard, and Dobson, Dobson was the only guy who was consistently scouted as a having no real weaknesses plus the size/frame that a #1 usually has. The other three had an exceptional quality that was counter-balanced by a perceived weakness (i.e. size or skating). If you look at current #1, most of them are over 6′ and 200 lbs (e.g. Doughty, Burns, Josi, Subban, Pietrangelo, Weber, Suter, Hedman, Jones). Exceptions are Keith, Klingberg, and Karlsson but even they are bigger than Hughes, the only comparable I can think of is Spurgeon.

            You also can’t judge based on draft position alone. Using your logic, then Hughes isn’t a #1 either because Montreal and Arizona decided to go off the board with Kotkaniemi and Hayton? Dobson was ranked in the #5-8 range in the month before the draft. All of the defenders fell including a few forwards like Wahlstrom and Zadina. Last year was an unpredictable draft and this year should be the same.

            You also need to look beyond the now. For example, Duncan Keith was drafted in 2nd round of 2002 and according to the defunct Hockey’s Future website, in 2004 they rated Keith as their 19th best prospect (his D+2 season). That’s pretty good for a two-time Norris trophy winner.

            But the way, I never said “sure 1”. Your words, not mine. I said “potential” or “I believe will be”. It’s a risk. Every trade and draft pick is a risk. You can pay a premium for certainty or get a discount for taking a risk. Given the only “sure 1” in this draft is likely to be drafted well before #10, acquiring a #1 in the near future will require some risk taking.

          • North Van Halen

            You don’t trade a potential #1 or 2 centre/winger, a potential #2 or 3 centre & a potential top 6 dman for a potential #1 unless you’re pretty damn sure. Get that one wrong and you’re right next to Peter Chiarelli looking for work

          • It depends on whether you think Dobson will pan out as expected. I believe he will be a #1 but you don’t. That’s fine. But you can never be sure about any prospect so you have to make educated guesses and leaps of faith. After all, isn’t it presumptuve for you to say that the #10 pick will be a first line player? How do you know? But if I believe Dobson will be the #1 that I have for 9 years, I’m willing to give up some good prospects that I can recover in subsequent drafts in order to cover a key position (RHD) and role (#1 D). But I would have to ask, what would you expect is fair value for Noah Dobson?

          • North Van Halen

            As far as I can ascertain, if there was a redraft today, the earliest Dobson would get taken is 8th, in what is considered a weaker draft year. I know that’s not really relevant but….you are essentially saying we should pay a premium of 2 assets to get a positional need, not a better player. The 10th alone is what Dobson is worth before he has proven anything at the NHL level but because you value a RHD you’re willing to pay a large premium to get a need.
            Sorry, I’m not interested. For Dobson I might go the 1st & Hutton but I’d be hard pressed to even do that before I knew who was available. What if Zegras or Dachs falls that far? Is Dobson worth more than them? Let alone add in Madden & Rathbone? Sorry, can’t get behind this one.

        • Beer Can Boyd

          Dobson had great stats when he was traded to a great team, his stats with Acadie-Bathurst were nothing special. He’s not worth what you are proposing.

          • BCB: Let me add the context that you’ve omitted:

            Acadie-Bathurst is the worst team in the QMJHL. They were crap when Brisebois was drafted in 2015 and they are still crap. No, wait, there’s even worse than crap now. In 2014-2015, they lost 43 games, in 2018-2019, they lost 54 games – in a 68 game season.

            Rouyn-Noranda gave up four draft picks to acquire Dobson. They gave up 3 1st round picks (2019, 2020, 2021) and a 2019 2nd round pick. The Memorial Cup winning Rouyn-Noranda Huskies beg to differ.

    • Bartholomew Gimble

      Wow Forever, that is a gutsy suggestion. I think I’d do it, but it would take huge balls to trade our number one this year with the draft taking place in Vancouver. Rathbone could be the sleeper btw.

    • j2daff

      Although Dobson would instantly be our best defensive prospect, fill a hole on our blue lines future and likely be our best defenseman within a couple years, I just don’t see a deal happening. I don’t think either team makes your deal above. Depending on what happens with their free agents it’s more likely the Isles are looking for impact players of today not tomorrow if they move Dobson and to be frank the Canucks would not be willing to move any they would actually want.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Gostisbehere will be expensive for the Canucks especially given they don’t have extra draft picks to trade. The price has to be at least this year’s 1st round pick plus a roster player (Hutton? Virtanen?) and another later pick.

    Given all the rumours Benning is working the phones and kicking the tires on everything he thinks could make the team better. It’s impossible to know if these rumours come from serious discussions or just inquiries. Rumours about a top pairing Dman have to have an impact on discussions with Edler.

  • Holmes

    If the Canucks can close on Ghost, then they need to add a reliable thumper or two on the back end to compliment Stech, Ghost and Hughes who are not very big men.

    All for a Ghost trade. He’s not as good as his 65-point season and not as poor as last season. If we can parlay Jake V, Hutton and a third, I’m all over that.

  • Captain Video

    Trade down in the draft with Vegas for Miller, at #17 take Soderstrom, Broberg or York, then sign Gardiner as a UFA. Voila.
    the defence is fixed long-term.

    • speering major


      Trade up with Vegas. Take on the Clarkson contract (5.25 Million) since Vegas is already over the cap limit and has players to sign.

      To Vancouver: Vegas 1st, Clarkson

      To Vegas: 40th overall + sweetener (2020 pick?)

      Vancouver drafts a RHD or a gem that falls to them

      I don’t understand this Gostisbehere talk. The #10 pick should be off the table. His play and contract are an absolute gem to a contending team. I would guess a team like the leafs would gladly clear room and give a bundle of prospects/futures for him. They wouldn’t be the only team. I don’t see how Vancouver competes without torching the rebuild. Are the flyers going to take back a bundle of B grade prospects and futures? They will have superior offers….

      If the flyers are oddly in love with a player like JV, then go to work Jim, otherwise I see nothing coming of this

    • Cageyvet

      I’m OK with the trade, but I don’t see the need to sign Gardiner. He’d be a decent acquisition, but not at the contract dollar and term I expect he will command. You fill the immediate void well enough with Miller, keep drafting and let the D build from within, or make another trade.

      I just don’t see the UFA fix on defense as the solution for this team. These days the UFA market is unavailable to teams in cap hell, and the path to cap hell for those who dive deep into the pool.