Canucks rely on young defenceman
Amidst all the insanity that has characterized the past few weeks with the slumbering play of the team in general including the lack of sharpness on the power play, and the slugfest that erupted in Chicago following the vicious cheapshot by Duncan Keith on Daniel Sedin, what has gone quite under reported is the sterling play of Canucks rookie defenceman Chris Tanev.
The youthful blue liner has been absolutely indispensable in the past few games, notably against Chicago and last night again versus Dallas.
His stats are meagre on the offensive end with only two assists in 18 games at the NHL level this season, but Tanev’s game is one where he needs to be watched daily to truly appreciate the sense of calm, thoughtfulness, and perception he brings to his positional play.
Observe him scanning the ice carefully on all his plays, as he assesses his options before efficiently passing or clearing the zone.
A more reasonable assessment of him if you put much faith in numbers is in his +4 rating in those 18 games to date.
That value projected over the 74 games played by the team so far in the 2011/12 season, would move him up to a +16 ranking, which is tremendous for a 22 year old on the third pairing, with rotating partners to boot.
He was not a celebrated pick, but rather joined the team as an undrafted free agent signing from the college ranks and the relatively obscure Rochester Institute of Technology.
Chalk up a masterstroke by the Canucks scouting department.
However, let’s also hand it to Tanev himself for how quickly he has absorbed the lessons imparted to him and pushed his own development.
He reminds me of a mirror image of Dan Hamhuis at times in his form, but for his right handedness, and focus on the simpler facets of the defensive art as his primary aim.
The emergence of the young prodigy has been an added boost for one of the team’s key veterans. Sami Salo has been granted the luxury of several rest/maintenance days in March, thanks largely to the faith that the teams coaches have placed in Tanev.
His excused absence in two of the past three road games will enable the Finn to enter the playoffs healthy, and at the same time enables Tanev to continue his maturation while strengthening the options for the defence.
The right side of the Canucks blue line has gained a much more solid foundation this season.
Well readers would love to hear your take on Tanev. Feel free to leave your comments below.