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Photo Credit: © Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

If you missed every other edition of the series—shame on you—but 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.”

This will be the final edition of this series, with voting now complete for the first, second, third, and fourth forward lines and the first and second defense pairings.

As it stands now, the fan-selected lineup is nearly finished—and it looks like this:

JT Miller-Elias Petterson-Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson-Bo Horvat-Micheal Ferland

Sven Baertschi-Adam Gaudette-Jake Virtanen

Josh Leivo-Jay Beagle-Zack MacEwen

 

Alex Edler-Troy Stecher

Quinn Hughes-Tyler Myers

XXXX-XXXX

 

The most recent rounds of voting featured the fourth forward line, where CanucksArmy readers made their preference for Jay Beagle over Brandon Sutter loud and clear:

 

Meanwhile, Josh Leivo cleaned up the left wing poll—beating out both Tyler Motte and Nikolay Goldobin:

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Motte fell short on the right wing, too, falling to rookie Zack MacEwen in a bit of an upset:

That means that Motte, Sutter, Goldobin, Tim Schaller, and Loui Eriksson are all on the outside looking in—as far as our hypothetical lineup is concerned, anyway.

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The poll for the second defense pairing also closed recently, and it featured the most dominant victory of the entire series thus far—with Quinn Hughes earning nearly 90% of the votes on the left side:

 

Competition was a lot tighter on the right side, but the newly-signed Tyler Myers ultimately won—edging out Chris Tanev for the honour of pairing up with Hughes:

With that, it’s time to open the polls for the only two remaining spots on the 2019/20 Canucks As Voted By The Fans lineup—the bottom pairing of the blueline.

 

The Left Side

Option 1: Jordie Benn

Pros:

-Benn is perfectly suited for a bottom-pairing role, and it’s where he’s played his best hockey.

-He can play further up the lineup, and thus probably take more minutes than the average #6 defenseman.

-The most physical player on the blueline.

-Has worked well with a variety of partners in the past, and should have no problem forming a shutdown tandem with Chris Tanev.

Cons:

-At this point, the only reason not to put Benn in this position is because he reportedly plays better on his off-side—but playing him there right off the bat would require a preseason injury or trade.

 

Option 2: Olli Juolevi

Pros:

-There’s always a chance that Juolevi comes to camp and forces his way onto the team—thus prompting the trade of another defenseman at some point, likely Chris Tanev. That’s a best case—but probably highly unlikely scenario.

-In that case, Jordie Benn could easily slide over to the right—but again, it’s a real longshot at this point.

Cons:

-GM Jim Benning has all but assigned Juolevi to Utica already, having commented frequently on the team’s “cautious” approach with the young defender.

-Juolevi just got cleared for contact, and is probably not operating at 100% heading into training camp.

-Some time to get his feet back under him with the Comets is almost certainly the best move for his development.

 

Option 3: Oscar Fantenberg

Pros:

-Fantenberg played well in a bottom-pairing role for the Flames last season when they won the West.

-A steady and safe defenseman who is used to playing limited minutes.

Cons:

-Fantenberg just plain isn’t a better defenseman than Jordie Benn.

-The fiscal reality of the six defensemen ahead of him mean that Fantenberg would have to have an unbelievable preseason to bump one of them out of the lineup—not impossible, but highly unlikely.

 

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

 

The Right Side 

Option 1: Chris Tanev

Pros:

-Tanev is what he’s always been—steady as they come.

-Injuries and age have slowed him down, but limited minutes might actually help with that in 2019/20.

-His fancy metrics—like shot suppression—have suffered as he’s slowed, but that could turn around with a focused defensive assignment.

-Seems like a great fit on a shutdown pairing with Jordie Benn.

Cons:

-There’s only one real reason to keep Tanev out of the lineup on opening night, and we’re not going to mention it in an effort to avoid disturbing our superstitious readers.

-He may get traded at some point this season, but it’s probably not going to be before Game 1.

 

Option 2: Alex Biega

Pros:

-Every year, injuries put Biega into a larger role than anyone anticipated when the season started—and every year he surprises with his effectiveness.

-He’s coming off a career year in which he paced for 32 points without his defensive play suffering.

-Serious moxie factor.

Cons:

-Though there are some stats that would support it, it’s still difficult to accept the notion that Biega is a better defenseman than Chris Tanev.

-Like every season, Biega is destined to start the year in the pressbox or Utica—and like every season, he’ll have to patiently wait his inevitable turn.

 

Option 3: Jordie Benn

Pros:

-We’ve been over this before, but Benn supposedly plays better on the right than the left—at least according to those who watched him in Montreal.

-The only way this would really work is if Tanev was not in the lineup and Juolevi was—which would mean bad things for Tanev and great things for Juolevi.
Cons:

-The above scenario is incredibly unlikely, and the blueline simply works better with Benn on the left for the time being.

 

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

 

Who Is Next In Line? 

At this point, it’s almost certain that the Vancouver Canucks’ blueline will consist of some combination of Alex Edler, Troy Stecher, Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, and Chris Tanev—with one or both of Alex Biega and Oscar Fantenberg as extras.

That should leave myriad call-up options on the Utica Comets—so much so that trying to predict which one of them gets recalled first is a tricky endeavor.

While most fans would prefer for Olli Juolevi to get the first opportunity, it may be wiser to let him get settled on the farm after missing so much time with injury. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options—including Ashton Sautner, Guillaume Brisebois, and Josh Teves on the left and Brogan Rafferty, Jalen Chatfield, and Mitch Eliot on the right.

 

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.

So far, we’ve had hundreds of people vote in every poll and thousands of votes cast total—a clear indication of just how invested the Vancouver Canucks fanbase is on the team’s lineup moving forward.

Tune in early next week for a wrap-up article where we’ll reveal both the results of these polls and the final lineup—along with some commentary on the implications of your selections. After that, it will just be a matter of patiently waiting for training camp to come along and completely upset our expectations.