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.
Source : The #Canucks are very active on the trade market. Feeling is Jim Benning has made some offers to improve that blueline. Wouldn't surprise me if they are 1 of the teams that have checked in on Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 14, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.