Vancouver Canucks: Keith Ballard's Injury Opens Door for Chris Tanev

John BainCorrespondent IINovember 19, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13:  Chris Tanev #18 of the Vancouver Canucks collides with Daniel Paille #20 of the Boston Bruins during Game Six of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 13, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This past week the Vancouver Canucks lost multiple players to injury, but the most significant is Keith Ballard, who is out indefinitely with a back injury.

The last thing the Canucks needed was yet another injury to add to the list of hurting stars. Injuries to key players does allow for something, however—it allows players from the farm to step up and play their best.

When defenseman Chris Tanev got sent down to Chicago to play for the Canucks' AHL affiliate Wolves, there was much shock around the demotion.

If you watched last year's tail end of the season and playoffs, you would have seen a budding star on the Canucks blue line, but unfortunately, with the David Booth trade, the Canucks lacked the cap space available to keep Tanev up in the bigs.

Now, with Ballard out, hopefully the Canucks make the smart play and return Tanev to the big show. Tanev is a defenseman who is still young, but has excellent hockey smarts and rarely makes a bad play.

He would be an excellent addition to a defensive corps which has recently had issues breaking the puck out, as Tanev is very good at moving the puck and creating turnover-free breakouts.

Chris Tanev just began the AHL season, so there isn't much to show in terms of stats, but in 2010-11 on the farm, he put up nine points and was a plus-five in just 39 games. Clearly he is not the offensive replacement for Ballard, but the Canucks have other D-men to chip in there.

If there was ever a better opportunity than now to bring Tanev back, it has not presented itself. The Canucks need to keep the puck out of their own net, and Tanev is an excellent defensive defenseman who can get the job done.

The opportunity could mean the young defenseman's breakout into the NHL, and a situation that could see him stay with the team the rest of the way should he impress.

We hope to see Tanev get a second chance, and deservedly so, to show the Canucks and their fans what he is all about.

John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

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