Vancouver Canucks: Newly-Formed Defense? No Panic...Just Yet

Joseph TrentonAnalyst IIIFebruary 16, 2011

Kevin Bieksa fights off Kevin Porter, wearing #12 for the Avalanche.
Kevin Bieksa fights off Kevin Porter, wearing #12 for the Avalanche.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

VANCOUVER: Before you search for the big red panic button on the Canucks blue line, think again, because you may be surprised with what you see after a closer look.

The Vancouver squad entered Tuesday night's game in Minnesota with ONLY two defensemen from their opening night roster: Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa.

Update in a minute, but Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler, Keith Ballard, and Andrew Alberts are all out with some form of bodily illness.

Hamhuis suffered a concussion when his head contacted the end boards after a normal-looking check. Edler appears to have injured his lower back after a huge open ice hit on Jamie Benn.

Ballard was slew footed by Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek from behind the goal line, and brought to the ice with both hands on his equipment away from the play.

Alberts follows up with a broken wrist in St. Louis and is now singing the Blues. When will the music stop?

Before I go on, the Canucks picked up where they left off last night by calling up the 12th different name to play D this season: Yann Sauve.

Sauve was a 41th overall, second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft when the Canucks picked up Cody Hodgson at 10th overall.

Sauve joined fellow Moose call-ups Lee Sweatt, Chris Tanev, Victor Oreskovich, Jeff Tambellini, and Aaron Volpatti on the Canucks roster. Thank God for having the farm team affiliate.

Now, the Canucks played Yann Sauve for 12:16 on Tuesday night, Chris Tanev 13:40, reserve D-man Aaron Rome 17:50, finally healthy Sami Salo 18:19, incumbent Kevin Bieksa 20:05, and big point shot Christian Ehrhoff 22:00.

For doubters saying Ehrhoff, Bieksa and Salo are going to be dead tired and worn out before the playoffs begin, think again.

Ehrhoff played only 22 minutes and he led the defense in ice-time. Bieksa can play a lot more than 22, but he only had to be on the ice for just over 20 minutes.

Salo can ease back into game shape with 18 minutes per night until he feels comfortable with the mid-season pace. Not a lot to worry about for the Canucks brass in terms of looking to trade for a depth defenseman at all.

Now, here is the good news tonight.

Canucks designated shutdown defenseman Dan Hamhuis is reportedly recovering from his mild concussion and has started light workout in Vancouver where he is having his rehabilitation.

Look for Hamhuis to return within a week or 2 as he passes the baseline testing.

For Ballard, his original recovery may be too lengthy, as he is closer than he appeared on that night. Ballard should be back skating again next week, and soon after in game situations.

Therefore, we are talking about 1-2 week window from now on that we will see the Moose herd so at large.

Some have previously wondered, and here I wish to address: What happens when the D's are healthy, but we have no cap space to fit them into the lineup?

Here are the rules under the CBA:

Regular season, annual salary cap hit applies. Playoffs, salaries are due in the regular season. Therefore, no salary cap limit on each team.

However, that player must be under contract prior to the trade deadline to be eligible for playoff eligibility to dress. For the Canucks, this isn't an issue.

Imagine the playoffs, when we get Alberts and Edler back, we will have a defense core similar as such:

Hamhuis - Bieksa

Salo - Ehrhoff

Edler - Ballard

Extras: Alberts, Rome

Farm: Tanev, Sweatt, Sauve, Parent, Paestch, Baumgartner, Connauton.

Simply put, Canucks will have no issue on who to defend.

Good job by Mike Gillis.


In 2006, when the Canucks were often injured, ex-GM Dave Nonis traded away valuable draft assets to acquire Eric Weinrich from the St.Louis Blues, Sean Brown from the New Jersey Devils, and Keith Carney from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

They lost the second-, third- and fourth-round picks and couple of low-end prospects in the process. That season, the Canucks were out of the playoffs finishing in ninth place in the Western Conference. Much ado about nothing.

Hang in there Sami, Kevin and Christian! Help is along the way. For now, sit back and enjoy the extra ice time. Enjoy it while it lasts!


Thanks for following your Vancouver Canucks.

This is Joseph Trenton.




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