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Chris Tanev is taking on more responsibility.
While the Canucks have not had much success with developing their prospects over the past few years, Chris Tanev has been a pleasant exception to that rule.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010 after one year of college, Tanev has impressed with his steady, unspectacular game. He won't make big plays but he also won't put his team in trouble.
This season, Tanev put up 14 points and a plus-12 ranking in 34 games with the AHL Chicago Wolves. He's the only one of the Canucks defenseman who was playing regularly during the lockout.
In six games with the Canucks, he is tied for team lead with a plus-two, playing 17 minutes a game.
Tanev rarely puts his team in a hole. He has taken just two minor penalties in his 60 NHL games to date and has just one giveaway so far this season.
In the final year of his $900,000 deal, Tanev is a bargain, making less than a quarter of the salary of any of his Canuck defensive peers.
A late bloomer, Tanev is listed at 6'2" and 185 pounds. He is on the wispy side for a blueliner, but his history as one of the smallest players on his teams seems to have taught him how to protect himself on the ice.
Tanev is also limited offensively. Since signing with the Canucks, he has exactly one goal—with the Manitoba Moose during the 2010-11 season.
He doesn't have much velocity behind his shot, which makes him reluctant to use it. During the summer, Rory Barrs of the National Post reported on Tanev's work with trainer Gary Roberts in an effort to gain more strength and a harder shot.
In August, Roberts thought Tanev was simply in need of a little confidence:
I think he does have those abilities...He’s got great hands, moves the puck well and skates well. Once he gets a little confidence, I think that’s going to be big for him. To go to camp and see that he’s got that strength, and to see that he’s got that speed and that ability to compete with guys in the National Hockey League, I think that’ll really help him get off to a good start.
Tanev has recorded just six shots so far this season, but his play remains solid enough to keep healthy extra players Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker sidelined for the foreseeable future.
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