Take it from an Oilers writer, Canucks fans will love Vincent Desharnais

Vancouver Canucks Vincent Desharnais
Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
7 days ago
Edmonton Oilers fans aren’t going to be complaining about their haul in free agency, bringing in the likes of Viktor Arvidsson, Jeff Skinner, and others to help bolster the team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
But for as much joy they feel over those moves, there is one move from free agency that has them heartbroken: Vincent Desharnais signing with the Vancouver Canucks.
Take it from somebody who’s spent the last decade watching and covering the Oilers: Canucks fans, you got a good one.
Desharnais was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 draft and he certainly didn’t have the profile of somebody who would play NHL games. Standing at 6’5, 207 lbs, he had just wrapped up his second season at the NCAA’s Providence College, scoring two goals and three points in 32 games.
While he had the size then he does now, his scouting report didn’t evoke much confidence. At the time of the draft, Steve Kournianos described him as a player who skates awkwardly, wasn’t physical with his strength being able to stand people up and use his stick to jar pucks loose in board battles.
It took years for Desharnais to work up the ranks of the hockey world. He spent two more years at Providence before turning pro in the 2019-20 season. His first year saw him play in the ECHL, and his second in the AHL. By his third season in 2021-22, he was starting to turn heads as his game evolved. He tied a career-high in goals at any level with five, while setting career marks in assists with 22 and points with 27, all in 66 AHL games with the Bakersfield Condors.
His rise through the ranks of the Oilers organization coincided with that of goaltender Stuart Skinner, with the two becoming good friends and even having their own celebrations together after wins.
In March 2022, he earned an entry-level contract with the Oilers. The only problem was that in camp the following season, he broke a bone in his hand. Four to six weeks turned to double that when surgery was needed, and he had a slow start to his season.
But after getting up to speed playing 13 AHL games, Desharnais earned a recall to the NHL in January 2023 and never looked back. When he was drafted by the Oilers in 2016, he told the organization “I’ll show you guys that I was worth drafting,” and he had done exactly that.
It didn’t take long for him to assert himself as a strong defensive defenceman, using his size to break up the cycle and clear out the front of the net. And above all else, he began to find himself as a penalty kill specialist for the Oilers, using those aforementioned tools to help the team become one of the strongest over the last two seasons. He’s not one to make a dazzling play carrying the puck out of the defensive zone, instead having a great first pass to help his team get out of trouble.
And above it all, he became one of the most popular players in Edmonton.
Hockey loves a good underdog story, and Desharnais has been exactly that. A kid from Quebec who played Jr. A hockey for the Chilliwack Chiefs went to the NCAA, having to fight and claw for everything he’s earned. Someone who, by all accounts, has been nothing but a great teammate and has embraced every city he’s played in. He’ll do the same for you in Vancouver.
He has his flaws, like every NHL’er, but he’s a prototypical third-pairing, shut-down defenceman. According to Hockeyviz.com, he provided offence at a 13 percent rate below league average, but defence at a six percent rate above league average, and penalty kill work at an eight percent rate above league average.
Take care of him, Canucks fans. He’s a good one.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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