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Photo Credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019/20 Canucks, As Voted By The Fans: The Second Pairing

Welcome back to The “2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans” Series 

If you missed the first few edition of the series, here’s a brief description of what’s going on here:

“Through a series of polls, we’re asking fans to vote on their preferred forward lines and defense pairings for the 2019/20 Vancouver Canucks, based on the team’s current roster. Each week, we’ll be presenting the various options for each unit and discussing the pros and cons of every possible combination—until we’re left with some sort of a consensus.”

On the forward side of things, we’ve already built up an entire top-six through two rounds of polling for the first and second lines, resulting in the following two units:

JT Miller-Elias Petterson-Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson-Bo Horvat-Micheal Ferland

 

Voting remains open for the third line.

The first round of voting for the defense corps, on the other hand, occurred last week, and now the results are in.

On the left side of the ice, the veteran and freshly re-signed Alex Edler cruised to an easy victory, nearly doubling the votes of the rookie Quinn Hughes:

 

Over on the right, Troy Stecher—Edler’s frequent partner in the past—won by an even more impressive margin, beating out the newly-arrived Tyler Myers to the tune of 59%-24%:

 

Fans didn’t show much interest in any of the other defensemen on the roster bubble heading into 2019/20, though we’re going to throw Oscar Fantenberg into this round of polling just for the heck of it:

 

With that, it’s time to select the second defense pairing for the 2019/20 Vancouver Canucks.

The Left Side

There are two high-profile rookies competing for spots on the left side of the Canucks’ defense, but they’re up against a couple of veterans with brand new UFA contracts. Competition promises to be tighter on this side of the ice.

Option 1: Quinn Hughes

Pros:

-Hughes is the heir-apparent on the Canucks blueline, and destined to occupy an even higher spot than this in the near future.

-He may not be ready for top pairing 5v5 minutes, but chances are good he’ll be playing ahead of Alex Edler on the powerplay from the get-go.

-Hughes probably already has more overall talent than any other defender in the organization.

-His superb skating ability will make it easier for him to eat big minutes even transitioning from college to the NHL.

-The more he’s on the ice, the better for whichever set of forwards are lucky enough to line up with him.

Cons:

-There’s always the chance that Hughes struggles to make the switch to the daily NHL grind.

-Previously, the most games he’s ever played in a season was 37—so him hitting a wall at some point would not be unexpected.

 

Option 2: Jordie Benn

Pros:

-Benn is coming off the best season of his career and produces a surprising amount of offense at even-strength.

-He keeps opposing forwards on their toes with his penchant for big hits.

-Has proved more than capable of handling top-four minutes for large stretches of time during previous stops in his career.

-A versatile skillset that could feasibly match well with just about any partner.

Cons:

-Traditionally thrives better with smaller assignments.

-Benn played his best hockey in Montreal on the right side, and may not be capable of taking a top-four role on the left.

-Will already be relied on heavily for the penalty kill.

 

Option 3: Olli Juolevi

Pros:

-Showed plenty of NHL readiness before being injured during his rookie season in Utica.

-A multifaceted defender that is good—but not great—at all aspects of the game, and thus perfect for a middle pairing.

-Would help justify his draft position and eliminate a negative storyline.

Cons:

-Following a season-ending injury and a surgery on his back in June, Juolevi has barely begun to train—and will be lucky if he’s in top shape by the preseason.

-Still in need of some valuable development at the AHL level.

-GM Jim Benning has already said that Juolevi will start with Utica and work his way up from there.

 

Option 4: Oscar Fantenberg

Pros:

-Fantenberg has been a top-six defender at the NHL level already.

-He didn’t look out of place filling in on the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames’ blueline last season.

-Limited offensive upside, but steady defensive presence.

Cons:

-Doesn’t have the skillset to play ahead of other Canuck defenders, particularly when it comes to offense.

-Was signed with pressbox duty in mind, allowing younger options like Olli Juolevi and Guillaume Brisebois to continue developing on the farm.

 

Vote below for your preference on the left side of the Canucks’ second pairing:

 

The Right Side

Compared to the left, the right side is a much more settled affair—though training camp could yield a surprise or two yet. In any case, the exact pairings will still need to be determined—and there’s some potential for mixing and matching therein.

Option 1: Tyler Myers

Pros:

-Myers has the sort of wingspan that could compensate for Quinn Hughes’ overall lack of size.

-His strong skating and offensive instincts also complement Hughes’ game quite nicely.

-Myers has already proven more than capable of handling a top-four role on a playoff team with Winnipeg.

-Represents a dangerous option from the blueline for Vancouver’s talented forwards to utilize.

Cons:

-Myers’ penchant for defensive miscues might make him a dangerous partner for a rookie defenseman.

-He plays a significantly less physical game than most would expect.

-He might already be overburdened with excessive special teams responsibilities.

 

Option 2: Chris Tanev

Pros:

-In any scenario, Tanev is generally the safest choice.

-Though he has slowed down greatly, he’s still capable of eating up minutes against the opposition’s top forwards.

-His steady presence might make the perfect partner for a rookie with an offensive bent like Quinn Hughes.

-Tanev has played top-pairing and top-four minutes before—though the more he plays, the more likely he gets injured.

Cons:

-As always, it’s tough to count on Tanev playing anything more than ¾ of a team’s season.

-Injuries have taken their toll, and Tanev can now be overwhelmed by heavy minutes and speedy opposition.

-At this stage of his career, he might be most effective as a pure defensive specialist—not a two-way top-four defender.

 

Option 3: Alex Biega

Pros:

-The Bulldog is as gutsy as they come, and can drag his teammates along with his impeccable work ethic.

-Has had two surprisingly solid seasons in a row, and may just be a genuine top-six NHL defender after all.

-A natural right-hander, something that will almost guarantee Biega minutes at some point this season.

-Great at getting shots through to the net, something that net-crashers like Micheal Ferland can play to their advantage.

Cons:

-Biega struggles more with greater responsibility and heavier minutes—and isn’t truly capable of filling anything outside of a depth role for a sustained period of time.

-His skillset has a clear and definite ceiling to it—even if his effort level means he’s operating at his peak output every time he hits the ice.

 

Option 4: Jordie Benn

Pros:

-As mentioned previously, Benn reportedly plays his best hockey on his off-side.

-Having him here could open up a spot on the left for Olli Juolevi—and make it easier to manage the trading of Chris Tanev.

-Benn is definitely the most rough-and-tumble partner that could possibly line up with Quinn Hughes, and he’d probably help keep the rookie safe to a certain extent.

Cons:

-The Canucks have more depth on the right than the left, so moving Benn over doesn’t make all that much sense without some prior roster movement.

-Even if he does end up playing on the right, Benn is probably still best suited for a bottom-pairing role.

 

Vote below for your preference on the right side of the Canucks’ second pairing: 

 

A Note On The Bubble  

There are other players in the mix for a roster spot that we haven’t included in these polls—including Guillaume Brisebois, Ashton Sautner, and Brogan Rafferty, but there just isn’t enough realistic chance of them making the team to justify listing them as an option at this point. In the next round of polling, look for an option to vote on which defensemen are most deserving of a midseason callup that will include each of those players and more.

 

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for participating in the 2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans series. Both your votes and your discussion in the comment section are greatly appreciated.

Tune in next weekend to see who was voted to the Canucks’ third line and vote on the fourth and final set of forwards. We’ll be back next week to reveal the results of these polls and complete Vancouver’s d-corps with a vote on the third pairing—and then it will be about time for training camp to open and render our prognostications useless!

  • Info from a very good source told me the thinking to start the season is:
    Edler Myers
    Hughes Tanev
    Stecher Benn
    With Hughes on PP1

    Let’s see how good that source is!

  • I like
    Edler/Meyers
    Hughes/Tanev
    Benn/Stecher
    Just makes more sense with their abilities and will allow pairings to play more equal mins, rather than top pairing eating up serious mins.
    Meyers will be the #1 PP guy because he has good offensive instincts and a really good shot. Quinn will be #2 PP.
    Edler and Tanev, when healthy, have logged serious mins, so hopefully mins will even out quite a bit. Also hopefully a new found ability to exit the defensive zone with control will cut down on injuries. Always seems Tanev gets hurt in his own zone blocking shots or chasing pucks in the corner.

  • It may take a lot of games, if at all, to designate a bonafide first D pair with this new look blue line corps. With Edler, Myers and Hughes you have three decent PP QBs and reasonably good defensive blue liners now too.Maybe Myers and Benn as #1 tandem? Edler and Stecher? We’ll see what Green does here but hopefully makes one forget some of those guys back there from last year now gone. Doesn’t look too bad actually.