Canucks: Why it’s best to let Chris Tanev walk

Chris Tanev is a pending UFA, and it’s probably best if the Vancouver Canucks let the veteran rearguard walk.

Chris Tanev has been a warrior for the Vancouver Canucks since he was signed as an undrafted free agent back in May of 2010.

He is one of two members remaining from the 2010-11 squad that reached the Stanley Cup Final, along with Alexander Edler. Tanev is now in need of a new contract, and he likely wants a raise from the $4.45 million annually he made on his previous deal.

But as much as Tanev is loved by many Canuck fans, it might be best to move on.

On Tuesday, a report from Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe of The Athletic, (subscription required) stated that the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking for a right-handed defenceman and Tanev is atop target. The reports say the Penguins are interested in giving Tanev a five-year contract worth around $5 million a season.

They won’t be re-signing Justin Schultz, so it looks like the Pens want Tanev to take his place on the right side.

According to TSN 1040’s Rick Dhaliwal, there have been no talks between the Canucks and Tanev. They haven’t even made an offer.

Another reason Tanev may want to sign in Pittsburgh, is because younger brother Brandon plays there. The younger Tanev was signed to a six-year contract worth $21 million by general manager Jim Rutherford last offseason.

If Pittsburgh is willing to give Tanev, a large amount of money and term, it might be best for the Canucks to let Tanev walk and re-sign Troy Stecher instead.

Tanev’s declining game and age

Tanev has been a staple on the Canucks blue line for many years now. He plays around 20 minutes a game and uses his body to block shots. He displays toughness, a strong hockey IQ and reliable defensive play.

However, Tanev’s game has been declining over the last three seasons. He has been making more defensive mistakes in recent years, and the analytics show his game has dropped off quite a bit. And it could get even worse over time:

Ty Pardy wrote a piece on Tanev’s declining game. The article, using WAR, shows that Tanev was a very solid defenceman in 2014-15 and 2015-16. In 2016-17 and 2017-18, he continued his strong play but took a step back in 2018-19.  In 2019-20, his play dropped off by a wide margin.

Tanev will be 31 in December, is injury prone and the decline has been quite evident. Do the Canucks want to give him a long-term contract with these factors in mind? Probably not.

Re-signing Stecher is the better option

The Canucks also have to take care of Stecher and his next contract. It’s hard to envision both he and Tanev returning to Vancouver next year. The best bet would be to re-sign the Richmond native, who has stated that he wants to stay with the Canucks.

Stecher is 26, five years younger than Tanev and is less prone to injury. He can play top four minutes, is a good skater, can provide some offence and help get the puck up the ice. Stecher may not be as good as Tanev is from a defensive standpoint. However, he can be reliable defensively from time to time, especially along the boards.

Re-signing Stecher would be a low-risk, high-reward move.

At the time of the writing, nothing has been said from insiders regarding Stecher’s contract but it would be ideal  to re-sign him and let Tanev leave.

Tanev has been a great servant to the Canucks but like J. Cole says, “All of the times that we had together, we should’ve known nothing lasts forever.”