The Vancouver Canucks’ defensive “depth” is currently one of their biggest strengths. Which is alarming.
There has been a lot of talk about trading a defenceman for offensive help this season, as the Vancouver Canucks‘ defence seems to be the deepest position. We at The Canuck Way also discussed a few options and I still believe there are scenarios where it would make sense.
But does that mean the Canucks’ defence is actually good?
A few months ago, The Guardian published a story on the “ugly friend effect”: the phenomenon wherein a person’s attractive features are augmented when in close proximity to people who aren’t considered traditionally attractive. It’s superficial, callous and unkind, but it’s real, at least according to a recent study.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Canucks’ 2016-17 defence corps. It’s not pretty, but it looks better by comparison. You can thank Matt Bartkowski, and the relatively uninspiring play of the Canucks’ forwards this season.
Canucks Army’s Jackson MacDonald has got a point here. But, I also think he is combining two separate topics into one.
First, you can look at the Canucks’ defence as what it is: A group that is probably below average in the league. A group that has some young talent with guys like Ben Hutton, Nikita Tryamkin and Troy Stecher, but also one that is lacking elite talent. None of the youngsters are legitimate top-pairing players yet (they might never be), neither are Chris Tanev and Alex Edler (at least not anymore).
With that group of defencemen, the Canucks won’t be Stanley Cup contenders. They need Olli Juolevi to become a high-end top-pairing player, and they should probably draft a future partner for him as well.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t trade one of the players they have.
The second way to look at the Canucks’ defence is as a group of at least seven players who all have similar quality. There currently isn’t one who really stands out as exceptionally good (other than Tanev defensively) or exceptionally bad.
If the Canucks traded Hutton, it would suck for sure. But it’s not like he can’t be replaced. So, if they could manage to trade one of their D-men for a top-line forward of Matt Duchene‘s calibre, I wouldn’t mind it.
If they could use one of their current defencemen to get a new top-line centre, why shouldn’t they? Sure, it wouldn’t fix many of their problems, but it might fix one of them.
The Canucks have many issues and one trade can’t fix all of them. But likewise, trading one player won’t jeopardise the plan. Having a relatively deep defensive group and therefore considering to trade a defenceman does not equal having above-average quality on the back end.
It all just shows once again: The Canucks need a full-on rebuild.