Canucks: Taking a look at potential defence pairings in 2021

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 09: Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings with teammate Tyler Myers #57 during the first period at Rogers Arena on October 9, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 09: Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings with teammate Tyler Myers #57 during the first period at Rogers Arena on October 9, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images) /
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Quinn Hughes scores his first NHL goal with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)
Quinn Hughes scores his first NHL goal with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks blueline will make some changes for next season, but the options as to who the new faces will be still depends on training camp.

It’s clear that the Vancouver Canucks ran into salary cap problems when the coronavirus pandemic altered the financial course of the National Hockey League. Because of that, Vancouver has lost a few key defenders and has decided instead, that it’s time to let their prospects decide who will be filling those holes on the blueline.

One of the big moves made by the Canucks in free agency this year actually came from a trade to acquire a capable top 2-3 defenceman in Nate Schmidt from the Vegas Golden Knights. When it became obvious that Vegas needed to relieve a large amount of cap space, Jim Benning swooped in on the opportunity and landed the Canucks an upgrade on the back end for a future third-round pick. Such a player can usually cost a heck of a lot more than that.

So when you look at the Canucks options on defence, the top-four look like it comes down to deciding how Green will want to pair the team’s best four defenders (Quinn Hughes, Schmidt, Alex Edler, Tyler Myers), but options for the third-pairing are a bit endless right now.

Taking a look at the Canucks top-four

The acquisition of Schmidt has given the Canucks another defender (not named Hughes) that plays with speed and can deliver a great transition game. The question for Vancouver is, does Green pair those two players together to maximize their potential as a unit, or does he split them up to make sure the team has at least one capable two-way defender on the ice for 45 minutes a night?

Looking at the pairings from last season, and outside of Chris Tanev, Hughes played a lot of time with Myers. When playing on the same line, Myers and Hughes were actually an entertaining duo in the offensive end.

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The question for them being a reliable pairing lies in Myers and his ability to play big minutes on a nightly basis. If he can pitch in offensively and clean up a little bit in his own zone, this pairing could be a good choice.

Edler and Schmidt together sounds like something that could really work. Edler has earned a lot of respect with his career in Vancouver to this point and Schmidt has proven over the last few seasons that he can match up defensively against the better lines in the NHL while also bringing an offensive edge. This pairing wouldn’t be as defensive as Tanev and Edler were together in the past, but Schmidt and Edler are two reliable two-way defenders.