The Canucks are getting creative in their attempt to fix their issues on the blue line.
With limited options in free agency and on the trade market, the club didn’t do anything to address their right side defence depth, which remains unchanged from last season.
When asked about this, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford told Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali – The Team the following:
“We have a lot of guys on the left side who can move over. Burroughs was good last year, Dermott and Oliver Ekman-Larsson can play the right side and Hughes has told us he can try the right side,” said Rutherford.
As it stands, the Canucks’ defensive depth chart looks as follows, based on handedness alone (note that these are not pairings)
Quinn Hughes
Tyler Myers
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Luke Schenn
Travis Dermott
Tucker Poolman
Jack Rathbone
Kyle Burroughs
Danny DeKeyser (PTO)
Brady Keeper/ Noah Juulsen
With Jack Rathbone set to graduate from the Abbotsford Canucks and join the big club lineup this season, the Canucks seemingly have — or had — a logjam of defencemen on the left side.
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It’s well known that Dermott can play the right side, and Ekman-Larsson has been able to do the same as well at various points throughout his career.
The big wild card here is Quinn Hughes.
If the Canucks can successfully transition their best defencemen to the right side, it would be a massive win for the club and patch a major hole in their lineup and overall roster construction.
It would also allow Jack Rathbone to take a spot on the third pairing, potentially playing with Luke Schenn, where Schenn would serve a similar role as he did whilst playing with Hughes — allowing the smooth-skating Rathbone to be the primary puck mover on the defence pairing.
The Canucks certainly can’t afford for Hughes to take a step back next season if they want to remain competitive, which is why putting him in a somewhat unfamiliar environment on the right side poses some risk.
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But if he can make the switch seamlessly?
It would essentially be found money for the Canucks.