The Canucks’ bet on Carson Soucy being a top four defenceman seems like a good one: Year in Review

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
4 days ago
When Carson Soucy inked a 3-year, $3.25 million AAV deal on the first day of Free Agency 2023, the reactions were pretty solid. It seemed like a fair deal for a good defensive defenceman, one that could play both sides and had size on the back end. Soucy provided all of that for the Canucks — when he was available to play.
For the first time in his career, Soucy was asked to play a top-4 role on an NHL team. It was clear that Rick Tocchet was comfortable leaning on him plenty, as only the Hughes-Hronek pairing had more minutes together than the Soucy-Myers combination. The two big defencemen gave up 12 goals while on ice for 13 goals for in the 382 minutes they were together. He wasn’t sheltered, and for the most part, Soucy performed well. He was certainly good enough alongside Myers for Tocchet to keep that pairing together into the playoffs.
The problem was that Soucy wasn’t as available as the team would’ve hoped for at the start of the season. Appearing in only 40 games, Soucy was plagued by injuries, starting with a stint on the IR from October 7th to October 17th, getting hurt again on November 12th and being out until January 6th, and then closing out the year by getting injured on January 22nd and returning for March 5th.
While Soucy isn’t exactly a bandaid, the injuries did seem to take their toll on his play. There were times where the defenceman wasn’t quite up to speed, lacking the game reps that would’ve helped hone some decision-making for him on the ice. These moments would be the ones that stood out the most, because for the most part, Soucy kept things pretty uneventful when he was on the ice.
Stylistically, he and Myers weren’t the best fit, but they made the most of what they had and played pretty well together. It was hard to really quantify the type of impact that Soucy had on this Canucks back end until the team played without him for key moments of the season. It was clear that Vancouver performed better with Soucy in the lineup, none more apparent than in the playoffs where Soucy got suspended by the league for hurting their investment. Trying to fit Noah Juulsen into the Carson Soucy-shaped hole didn’t end well in Game 4, and Soucy made sure to emphasize his return to the lineup in Game 5.
Soucy played key minutes for the Canucks both at 5v5 and on the penalty kill, a role that he’s likely to reprise with some additional help next season. His 6’5 frame was very much welcome, getting his stick into passing lanes and throwing his weight around with some big hits. The defenceman was, on most nights, the Canucks’ third or fourth-best defenceman – and that’s really all you could ask for, especially on the contract that he’s on.
But again, Soucy was only available for those 40 games this season. While they were good, it also meant that Vancouver needed to find a way to play without Soucy for over half of the season. They managed pretty well, but that isn’t sustainable. It’s impossible to control when a player gets hurt and that isn’t a negative reflection on Soucy – it’s just that availability is an ability in and of itself.
It’s why the Canucks should prioritize finding another defenceman that is top-4 calibre to bring into the lineup. Not only is an aging Tyler Myers not someone that should be counted on for those heavy minutes, but pairing Soucy up with a partner that is more complimentary to his style should help. And, if Soucy does go down with an injury, it’s not putting more stress onto that top pairing to eat up more minutes.
Overall, it was a good first season for Carson Soucy in Vancouver – when he was on the ice. Staying healthy will be key for not only his performance but the team’s next year. It stands to reason that Soucy has more to give, since shaking off rust from three different injury stints probably hampered a lot of what he could’ve done for Vancouver. There’s probably not going to be a lot of offensive upside to come, but that defensive value he adds is immense for this group. As it was though, as a value add to the top-4, Soucy was good. Now, it’s to see if he can bring the good more often in 2024-25 than he did in 2023-24.
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