Vancouver Canucks Roundtable: Defensemen Edition

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Nov 22, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler (23) and defenseman Christopher Tanev (8) attempts to check New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri (21) at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

With injuries and new faces, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Vancouver Canucks’ blueline. TCW tries to make sense of it all.

The Vancouver Canucks‘ defense looks a lot different from last season.

Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber left in free agency. The Canucks added Erik Gudbranson and Philip Larsen, and are giving youngsters Nikita Tryamkin and Troy Stecher a shot.

Still, some issues from last year have not left. Vancouver’s best two defenseman, Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev, missed significant time with injury last year. Right now, it’s more of the same, as they are both on the shelf for the time being.

So how should the Vancouver Canucks approach their defense? I asked The Canuck Way writers their opinions on all things defense.

Temporary Top Pairing

First, I asked how they would deal with immediate issue of filling in for Edler and Tanev:

With Edler injured, and Tanev still week-to-week, who should be the Canucks top pair?

Janik Beichler:

This is a tough one, because the Canucks don’t have an overly strong top pair to begin with. Now that both Edler and Tanev are injured, it’s getting a little ugly. Sbisa-Stecher: not an NHL top pairing. Hutton-Gudbranson: not an NHL top pairing. Tryamkin-Larsen: not an NHL top pairing.

Worse yet, Hutton-Gudbranson is probably the only pairing that would crack the roster of a contending team; the others are just emergency solutions for an already bad team.

Long story short, the Canucks should roll with whatever pairings they can still come up with and split their even-strength time roughly even. Hutton-Gudbranson would probably end up being the official top pair, but giving them that title makes me cringe.

Alex Hoegler:

Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton. They’re easily the Canucks two most talented defencemen right now. Both are incredibly quick from end-to-end and have underrated puck skills. The Canucks have to accept the playoffs are not happening. By doing that, you play with the “nothing to lose,” mentality.

Give your two young, promising blueliners a chance together. The Canucks just might find out that they’re a match made in Heaven.

Gerald Morton:

Assuming I’m not supposed to make up trades that give the Canucks a legitimate number one pair, I’ll go with Hutton and Gudbranson. I don’t love this pair, but there is no combination available that I love.

Jeff Godley:

I am tempted by Alex’s suggestion of Hutton and Stecher. They are clearly the two best defensemen in the absence of the Canucks regular top pair.

My concern would be what happened to the bottom two pairings. If all the talent is in the top pair, who will move the puck in other two pairs? I’m not a fan of Tryamkin-Gudbranson for this reason.

I think Hutton is the Canucks best defenseman, and Luca Sbisa is having his best season in Vancouver. So I say, until Tanev returns, bring back Sbizza-Hutt! Try Stecher with Gudbranson and shelter Larsen, Biega and Tryamkin on the bottom pair as much as possible.

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