current status: Signed through to 2016 with full NTC
#3 D | 6’1″, 198 lbs. | Age: 34
current status: Signed through to 2016 with a full NTC
#2 D | 6’1″, 209 lbs. | Age: 30
current status: Signed through to 2018 with a full NTC
#5 D | 6’2″, 218 lbs. | Age: 28
Garrison’s first season with the Vancouver Canucks was hit and miss, but one thing became known as a certainty — the man can shoot. Garrison has size and good skating ability with the ability to move the puck out of his own end fluidly. He doesn’ t blow you away with anything fancy, but his poise on the ice is usually steady and mature. Much like fellow BC counterpart, Dan Hamhuis, you won’t notice Garrison much on the ice because he plays a positionally sound defensive game and jumps up into the play less aggressively than fans would like. He isn’t overly aggressive, but his role on the Canucks suits him without needing this element.
current status: Signed through to 2015
#4 D | 5’11”, 208 lbs. | Age: 30
Nobody is really too sure what to make of Ballard’s situation in Vancouver. He had what most consider his best season as a professional, yet ye is benched in the pivotal moments of the season by (as of today, still current) head coach Alain Vigneault. Ballard is feisty, skates extremely well, moves the puck out of his zone nicely and finds the forwards in the offensive zone well. He even played forward for a while and looked like a more respectable grinder than what is currently on the wings in the Canucks bottom six forward group. Additionally, Ballard’s chemistry with youngster Chris Tanev was
undeniable this season, and Ballard has been a team-guy the whole time he’s been in Vancouver. What gives? While Ballard’s game has taken a turn for the better it appears he’s the odd man out for not having a right handed shot, or being able to play on his off-side when another D-man goes down. In addition, he lacks the ideal size to contain the bigger forwards in the game, according to some, but if you ask me… Ballard can hold his own just fine in that capacity. His bloated contract makes him a target for scorn, but make no mistake, Ballard is a fine D-man who has found himself on the wrong team.
current status: Signed through to 2015 on an entry level deal
#26 D | 6’0″, 190 lbs. | Age: 20
Corrado impressed most of the hockey world with his surge in a late season appearance in the Canucks lineup after an injury to Chris Tanev. What impressed those who watched him play the most was his poise in big moments and his ability to move the puck. Corrado’s has nice size and fits well on the Wolve’s powerplay at the AHL level, but will it translate to success at the NHL level? God knows the Canucks could use a little more mobility from the back end on the powerplay, but having this young player in their stable makes for a nice future combination if the club can sign Chris Tanev this off season. There are going to be some growing pains with Corrado, but so far he has not looked out of plays in the big league.
GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY?
There are several things the Canucks have to do this offseason, but perhaps the most important decision is how much they should pay Chris Tanev and for how long. Tanev is the key to this whole Canucks puzzle and the team will have to pursue him vigorously in order to out-compete all of the teams who will be interested in this young, rock solid defenseman. Tanev is no number one (yet?), but he certainly has all the tools necessary to be a successful top 2 or 3 defenseman for the Canucks going forward. Simply stated, the Canucks need Tanev. They must sign him or forever rue the day they did not.
The other question is, who is this team’s go-to number one guy on the back end? If your answer is nobody, you’re right. The recipe for winning a Stanley Cup has through the years has not been about size, or how much meat your team is willing to ice, for if that were the case then Tom Sestito, Andrew Alberts and Dale Weise would have been good enough for the team to advance past the Sharks this season.
The real key is a defenseman who is your true, dominant anchor on the back end, and the Canucks don’t have that. Going back over the last six years, the Kings had Drew Doughty, the Bruins had Zdeno Chara, and the Blackhawks had Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, two guys who are elite level defenseman in the NHL. Three more years back and the names are Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Letang, and Chris Pronger. With Bieksa and Hamhuis aging, and Edler proving he is more the bad Edler than the good Edler, time is of the essence. Until the Canucks find that player, the team will not win a cup with this group of solid, but flawed defensemen. Until that player is found, the back end will always feel a little like it has a hole in it roughly the size and shape of an Erik Gudbranson or, perhaps, with a little luck, one Chris Tanev.