Vancouver Canucks 2016 World Championship Review

Feb 19, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev (8) skates against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev (8) skates against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks had Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton win the gold at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. But why does this win feel so empty?

The Vancouver Canucks were well represented at this year’s IIHF World Championship tournament, sending seven players to Russia to the tournament that concluded with Team Canada winning the gold medal and Team Finland finishing as the runner-up.

Team USA could not secure themselves a medal as the host Russians proved triumphant in the bronze medal game. Also of note, Team Sweden and Team Denmark were eliminated in the quarter-final round while Team Latvia and Team Switzerland could not make it past group play.

But what was in store for the six Canucks who made the trip to Russia?

The Free Agents

Pending free agent Yannick Weber recorded a goal and two assists in seven games for Team Switzerland. While teammate Luca Sbisa was rumoured to be making the flight to Russia with Weber, Sbisa did not make the trip after finishing the NHL regular season with an injury.

Once-great Latvian Locomotive Ronalds Kenins only had one goal in six games for his country while recording 27 minutes of penalty that included this ferocious hit:

Kenins has been rumoured to be on the way out of the Utica Comets earlier in the offseason. After a great rookie season as a surprise call-up, Kenins has not been the same player for the Canucks organisation.

With those two out of the way, what else happened in Russia?

Not All Benchwarmers Get the Medal

After Team USA got me excited by calling netminder Thatcher Demko to Russia, it turned out that the recently-turned-pro Canuck prospect didn’t see one second of game action. Despite a poor performance from the American netminders Keith Kincaid and Mike Condon that led to the US finishing without a medal and third-last in the goaltending department only ahead of Belarus and Hungary, Team USA did not give Demko a single minute of action.

A Pre-tournament Look: Case for Demko to be No.1

Although the American squad paid the price and has no one else but themselves for a collective save percentage of 0.873, Canucks fans were sure disappointed that Demko didn’t have to save a single shot after studying so hard to wrap up his studies in Boston College.

Maybe the US will learn a lesson and give Demko a start next year. The issue is that there may not be another year that will see so many American netminders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as this year.

Hold your Glove High, Marky

The other netminder who made it to Russia for the World Championships was Jacob Markstrom, who played the starting role for Team Sweden. That did not go so well for the Canuck back-up who finished the tournament with a .896 save percentage and a 3.16 goals-against average.

As bad as those numbers may seem to be, watching highlights of these goals tells me that Markstrom did not play so poorly. Most goals came from screened shots, deflections, turnovers, and odd-man-rush mismanagement from the Swede defense. The only concern, perhaps, was how low Markstrom’s glove was when shots beat him high-glove.

Honey Badger Satisfied?

The Danes were ousted in the quarter-finals after showing flashes of brilliance in the group play. Jannik Hansen also had a big-time opportunity to show his offensive prowess while playing on the top line with Lars Eller and Nikolaj Ehlers.

More from The Canuck Way

Being among the TOI leaders for his team, Hansen had two goals and two assists in eight games.

Should Hansen be satisfied?

As one of the break-out performers this season and a beneficiary of some Sedin Twin magic this past season, Hansen could have made himself a name as a capable top-six scorer with a prolific performance at the Worlds. Although four points in eight games is not a disappointment at all, it spells a missed opportunity for Hansen and for the Canucks.

That being said, Hansen’s play at the Worlds have made him a great middle-six NHL option. His ability to be a utility man shone bright as he retrieved pucks, set up screens, and played on the powerplay that he never had to in Vancouver.

So did Hansen’s trade value go up with his play in Russia? I would tentatively say yes, as a middle-six winger but no more.

Hutton’s Smile Outshone by Tanev’s Heroics

Team Canada won gold and so did Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev. Hutton only suited up for five games and had just one assist while Tanev suited up for all ten games and also recorded one assist.

This would have been a great experience for Hutton who did not look too flustered out there. He was sat for the latter half of the tournament, but the training and the learning experience should be great for the Canucks’ prized defenseman.

As for Tanev, he was arguably one of Canada’s best defenseman. Although the points were not there for Tanev, the defending was just so stellar.

Here is Tanev being Tanev.

While playing on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly, Tanev was the second-most used defenseman in Canada’s gold medal game against Patrik Laine and Team Finland.

Tanev just keeps getting better and better. Expect him to take some more shots this coming season.

Time to Cry: The Draft Lottery

So, how much worse does the Draft Lottery result look after that showing by Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine? Sorry to end on a low note but Laine and Matthews showed elite talent while playing against the best hockey players around the world.

Enough said.

The Canucks, however, may have bigger issues to take care of than Laine and Matthews. The top Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavidand Taylor Hall were instrumental for Team Canada while Oilers netminder Cam Talbot now looks like the capable netminder the Oilers have been looking for since the beginning of time.

Next: Beyond the Sedin Legacy: Predicting Top 5 Non-Sedin Scorers

Add Max Domi and Corey Perry to the Pacific Division rivals who were decent in Russia. The Pacific is looking deadly.

The Canucks are going to have to find ways to develop Hutton, Markstrom, and Tanev while Hansen leads the charge into the offseason.