nikita tryamkin

Canucks Unlikely To Expose Sbisa In Expansion Draft Because Life Is Cruel

Imagine a scenario where the Canucks are abysmally awful and that it isn’t the worst thing going on. Now, imagine there is an opportunity for the team to expose a dumpster fire of a defenseman in Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft for the new Vegas Golden Knights only to be stopped dead in their tracks because two defensemen on their own team decided to go back to Russia.

This is the actual situation and it’s almost laughable because it is just so Canucks for this to happen.

Just when things couldn’t get any more interesting in Canuckland, both Nikita Tryamkin and Philip Larsen bolt back to Russia and leave the Canucks with a gaping hole on an already porous back end. As of today, the Canucks defense consists of Alex Edler, Alex Biega, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher, and Luca Sbisa.

Including Alex Biega and Andrey Pedan will most likely happen as soon as training camp begins and it would take a season-long case of mono to a current defender for Jordan Subban to crack the lineup, let alone get called up.

Sbisa now becomes an asset to the Canucks and forces them to retain him on circumstance alone. He’s like the Barry Trotz of the Canucks. Whenever there’s a chance to finally rid themselves of his services, something comes up. It’s like you want to get healthy and lose a few pounds but then that new extreme DQ blizzard comes out and it’s basically game over again.

How is this even possible that their defense could get any worse, it’s already the worst! Following the Canucks as long as I have, it’s almost expected that things just don’t go their way. This almost isn’t even news anymore. So is this really real? Is Luca Sbisa going to finish out his contract as a Canuck?

Sure looks that way.

The $4 million final year of Sbisa’s contract will be an albatross that weighs heavy on the rebuild and sadly the team pretty much HAS TO keep him because quite frankly, who else is there? Let’s just say for a second that Olli Juolevi is an absolute rock star and makes the team out of camp. It’s possible. Then, let’s assume Sbisa isn’t claimed in the expansion draft and Trevor Linden and Jim Benning sign Erik Gudbranson, what then?

There now are two players that shouldn’t be on the team and are keeping this rebuild from happening. It helps the team sink further in the standings from day one, sure does, but developing a better system with whatever coach the team hires is still a distant dream because management wants to carry these guys for whatever reason that they sell the public on.

Sbisa tied Tanev and Tryamkin this season with 2 goals, not something to be proud of as Tanev doesn’t score anyways and any Tryamkin related stat is now a point of sadness. It’s really a shame he accumulated the 4th most points on the Canucks back end because he was at or close to the bottom in shifts per game and TOI/game.

Of all the defensemen playing at least 1000 minutes at 5v5 this season, Sbisa ranks 10th worst in CF% with 45.83% and 4th worst in FF% at 44.26%. He is a detriment to the Canucks and with both Tryamkin and Larsen gone this is a monster slap in the face to the process.  The timing couldn’t be worse and it now completely changes the NHL Draft for Vancouver.

What if the Canucks slip to 5th? Do they take a D instead of a forward? There is so much need up front that it is almost going to take a trade either way to attain what the team needs so this offseason is salvageable.

What once was an abundance of riches for Vancouver is now the biggest anchor that is sinking the team. Whatever goalie backstops the Canucks next season will have to be a hair short of perfect for this team to even be relevant by Christmas time. But, it’s early and the draft lottery is still to come.

Somehow, Jim Benning will draft off the board and Rogers Arena will implode. That seems like the only likely possibility now. Mark Messier would even be a goo… JUSSSSST kidding.

photo – vancourier.com

Defending The Canucks Defense… Is That Possible?

For starters, I’M not defending the defense of the Vancouver Canucks.

Seven games into the season and potentially the worst injury has already occurred: Chris Tanev has been damaged. I suppose Ben Hutton would be the next guy that would cause a public outcry to just burn Rogers Arena down and start over but that hasn’t happened so maybe put down the torches. There are numerous areas up and down the Canucks lineup that are cause for concern but the defense seems to be the lightning rod to start the year.

Believe it or not, though, Luca Sbisa isn’t the #1 target. It’s not even newbie Erik Gudbranson and his lack of “real good” defensing. Alex Edler has been better but is showing signs of coming around and Ben Hutton, well, don’t you dare raise a hand to him.

The elephant in the room so far is the guy that hasn’t even gotten a sniff after Chris Tanev went down: Nikita Tryamkin is wasting time with his “holier than thou” contract. When he first came over, the gimmick was obvious: a big, potentially speedy defender that could throw a hit and might even contribute on the scoresheet.

Thankfully for Tryamkin, last season turned into a lost cause early enough that he was given enough time to show what he could do and essentially learn the NHL game without the AHL training phase. As a fan, ideally, this is the situation to see the new flashy player everyone is talking about. The downside to all of this is he hasn’t translated (no pun intended) into anything worth showing off, at least yet.

We all know there was only one way Nikita was coming to North America and that playing in the AHL for any length of time was a non-starter. As someone who understands how development works, this is ridiculous and unless Tryamkin was the second coming of a defensive Pavel Bure/Zdeno Chara (ya I know, terrible reference), he is just wasting away sitting up in the press box deciding what kind of popcorn he likes best.

For my money, movie popcorn and buffalo chicken flavour from Kernels are the best; but this isn’t about me.

If Tryamkin is going to amount to anything on the Canucks, Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins, no wait, Doug Jarvis, should get together with Nikita’s translator and get it through his head that the NHL only exists for him if he’s willing to work. I’d love to see NT pan out because quite frankly I know the history of the Vancouver Canucks defensive corps and a player like him doesn’t come around very often.

When it comes to Russian players not exactly “playing along” in the NHL, this wouldn’t be the first time. The latest defector, Valeri Nichuskin of the Dallas Stars, headed back to the Motherland and we may never see him in an NHL jersey again. A recent article from The Canuck Way describes the “Russian Factor” and how it’s affecting the Canucks themselves right now.

Frustration is the feeling around the Canucks, it has to be. You have this potential gem just sitting there on a fitness program trying to get him to a point where you can sell the fact he is ready to be a possible game day decision. Goaltending doesn’t seem to be an issue this year, scoring would be an entirely different discussion and on defense, you need guys that can produce.

Preseason standout, Troy Stecher, finally made his Canucks debut against the Senators on Tuesday night and although he didn’t score, he Corsi’d like a boss and was pretty darn close to being the #1 used defenseman:

That being said, it was one game. If Chris Tanev gets back into the lineup on Friday against the world famous Edmonton Oilers, Stecher might be sent back down for cap reasons.

It’s not something you want to do when guys like Luca Sbisa are delivering pizzas on the regular and even Gudbranson isn’t turning heads. Rookie Philip Larsen won’t be taken out because the powerplay funnels through him; that’s a whole other conversation. If Stecher can’t stay, what does that mean for guys like Tryamkin and Alex Biega?

You can’t start putting these guys as forwards, this isn’t a beer league. Maybe this is the problem the Canucks need to potentially shop a guy like Sbisa or even Tryamkin while his hype value is still high enough?

Defending this team in 2016/17 isn’t a fun task and it will only get tougher. There are absolutely some huge bright spots to look forward to and with some tweaks, the Canucks defense might actually be worth talking about outside of Vancouver.

Can the Canucks find a way to make their backend work, that’s a pretty tough call. Up front, there won’t be much to talk about in a positive light until Canucks brass can decide on how this team will fit together.

Let’s all be happy we aren’t desperate for Thatcher Demko’s debut quite yet in net. It could be a lot worse and a few PPs combined with some goals from the guys that are supposed to score will keep the mobs at home for at least another day.

Don’t write them off yet.

 

photo – ottawacitizen.com

Canucks Doing It All For The Rookie(s)

The Canucks came into this season as a rebuild, Jim Benning and his lies just watched their team lose to the Flames; dwelling on the past, it was burning on his brain, he went and signed Bartkowski, Sutter and they still kept Linden Vey. A season of growth, surprises and yet another minor goalie controversy, the dead weight was starting to fall off and it was the young guns that were getting the chances. 

We still bit in like a chump, hey! Like a chump? HEY! 

But the Canucks did it all for the rookies.

 

With 14 games left, its safe to say the Canucks won’t be at the big dance come April. The “P-word” as many are calling it, is something they’ll be building towards next season. Injuries have been a big reason they aren’t close as well as a lackluster roster that hasn’t been updated to compete in the current NHL.

Willie Desjardins is finally giving the rookies, Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi the proper time they deserve, even if that means Derek Dorsett and Emerson Etem have to hang around and ride shotgun. It hasn’t been easy to watch and with the first overall pick still a realistic possibility, there is a good chance we’ll see more of this to end the year.

When it all began, Jake Virtanen earned his spot, Jared McCann did too and Ben Hutton? Well we all know he was a guarantee to make it, how do you even debate that? Not entirely true I guess; Chris Higgins needed to go on LTIR so that kind of opened up a spot. Frankie Corrado seemed to be the guy that would make it but then he was waived!??!?!

I mentioned that it wasn’t Hutton who stole that job but actually Alex Biega. Benning saw what he wanted to after he made that move and inked Biega to a 2 year deal. Frankie, like Hunter Shinkaruk, just didn’t fit the plan.

Looking up and down the roster it’s amazing to see how much youth has actually played this year. Bo Horvat is tied with Daniel Sedin with 68 games played, for most games played this season, Hutton (61), McCann (58) and Virtanen (43) have all contributed as well as a hand full of first NHL games to boot.

This season has seen a blend of options and on the Sedin line alone, they’ve had approximately 8 different partners. The injuries have been a significant reason they have had new blood on a semi-regular basis.

Every position has taken a hit but it’s been up the middle and on the back end that’s been hit the hardest. Dan Hamhuis, through one fluke injury or another, has missed 24 games; Brandon Sutter has missed 47 games with and will probably not play again this season, Luca Sbisa missed 26 games with an injured hand and foot and those are just the big ones.

As a team, the Canucks have been decimated for 213 man games lost (as of March 12/16). Thankfully, that has meant a whole lot more ice time for Hutton, Virtanen, Horvat and now new Canuck fave Sven Baertschi. But in the last week, those guys aren’t stealing the spotlight anymore. Cue….Nikita Tryamkin.

It sure has been awhile since a Russian has made headlines in Vancouver, for the right reasons anyways. We could talk about Fedor Fedorov or Kirill Koltsov but that isn’t very exciting. Don’t get me wrong, Ben Hutton isn’t losing his hold as future top dman but with the build of the Russian Bear, Tryamkin gets an opportunity that few former Canucks prospects get.

Guaranteed ice time.

Let’s ask ourselves though, does Benning have a hidden agenda, will he put the tender season in a blender or will he surrender…like a chump. HEY!

All accounts say its still “P-word” or bust (playoffs) so they’ll tow the company line and continue to insist this season is still salvageable. What actually is salvageable is the hope we should have for next year when the purse strings open and management goes all in on whatever star is available.

Eventually, the likes of Andrey Pedan, Alex Grenier and Brendan Gaunce will be regulars, Horvat/Virtanen/McCann/Hutton will all be seasoned vets and if the dominoes continue to fall….maybe even Auston Matthews; but one thing is for sure: if it wasn’t for the long list of injuries this year, we might not know how long this rebuild was going to take.

Now at least, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel and if we look about 3 years away I have a feeling the phrase “Demko, Demko very much” may catch on. Something about wins, shutouts and being the goalie of the future, I dunno.

The rebuild carries on but the Canucks did it all for the rookies (so far).