Ryan Stanton

Canucks have a puzzle to solve on the blue line


Jim Benning learned something in his first year as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.

You can never have enough defensemen.

As such, he plans to start next season with eight blue-liners, not just seven, like he did this past season. And he wants even more options down on the farm, in case of injury.

“We’ll start with eight defensemen, but we want to have 11 D capable of playing in the NHL,” Benning told The Province. “That’s something I learned this year from being in the West. The travel wears the team down a bit and it seems to take a toll on your defense.”

Currently, if you had to pick a group of eight Canucks defenders, it might look something like this:

Alex Edler-Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis-Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa-Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton-Adam Clendening

But there’s also young, right-shooting Frank Corrado. The 22-year-old is arguably ready for the NHL. Hence, the speculation Vancouver may try and trade Bieksa.

Of course, trading Bieksa would mean one less defenseman, on a team that wants to have lots of them.

The challenge for Benning is a dearth of waivers-exempt, NHL-capable blue-liners. All nine that have been mentioned above require waivers to be sent to the AHL.

There’s also the mix to consider. The current group, as a whole, failed to create enough offense, and in the playoffs had trouble beating Calgary’s aggressive forecheck.

At the very least, Benning has time to figure out a solution.

“The season doesn’t start for four months,” he said. “If we want to add a certain type of player by trade, it’s something we’d look at. Like, say, a better transition defenseman.”

Related: Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core?

After 10-game absence, Tanev (concussion) back for Canucks


The Vancouver Canucks will get some much-needed defensive reinforcements tonight against Anaheim, as Chris Tanev will play for the first time since suffering a concussion on Feb. 14.

“It will be fun to get back out there,” Tanev said, per News 1130. “I am just going to go out there, work hard and trying and keep things simple. They are a good team over there so it will be a tough game to jump right back in to.”

Tanev, a pending RFA, was averaging nearly 22 minutes a night for Vancouver prior to getting hurt and is arguably the club’s top defensive defenseman. He leads the team and sits 16th in the NHL in blocked shots, with 131.

Tanev will be paired with Alex Edler and join Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Stanton and Frank Corrado on the Vancouver defense tonight. Corrado is in for Adam Clendening, who’ll sit; fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa remains sidelined following hand surgery.

Injuries piling up for Canucks — Edler still being ‘evaluated,’ won’t play tonight versus Wild

All of a sudden, injuries are starting to pile up for the Vancouver Canucks.


That last name, Alex Edler, is a big one. No Canuck has played more this season than the rejuvenated 28-year-old defender, who was forced to leave Saturday’s game in Calgary with an upper-body injury.

“Personally, I think he has been our MVP,” winger Alex Burrows said of Edler, per the Vancouver Sun. “He has logged so many big minutes. There are a lot of guys that have done a really good job, but for me he has been so good. He logs big minutes against the other team’s best players. He’s huge on the penalty kill, he’s huge on our power play. He is so smooth back there and is important for our hockey team.”

Coach Willie Desjardins said this morning that Edler is still being “evaluated.” He wouldn’t estimate how much time Edler could miss, saying only, “I don’t expect him to play today.”

Tonight at home against the red-hot Wild, Vancouver’s defensive pairings are expected to look like this:

Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa – Yannick Weber
Ryan Stanton – Adam Clendening

The Canucks announced this morning that they’ve recalled d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. They kick off a five-game road trip Thursday in New York versus the Rangers.

Related: Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do

Logjam of right-shooting D led to Clendening trade

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The Chicago Blackhawks traded Adam Clendening because they had a problem.

Granted, it was one of those good problems to have, but a problem nonetheless — too many young, right-shooting defensemen. For example, 24-year-old David Rundblad and 23-year-old Trevor van Riemsdyk. And down on the farm, 22-year-old Stephen Johns and 20-year-old Ville Pokka, the latter being the prospect the ‘Hawks got from the Islanders in the Nick Leddy trade.

So the ‘Hawks dealt Clendening, 22, to Vancouver for Gustav Forsling, a left-shooting d-man the Canucks drafted 126th overall this past summer.

Forsling, unlike Clendening, is not very close to playing in the NHL, if he ever gets there. A star for Sweden at the World Juniors, he’s still only 18, and has some filling out to do.

Here’s Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, with coach Joel Quenneville’s explanation:

Another factor is waivers. Clendening will need them next season. And remember that the ‘Hawks already lost a young d-man for nothing in 2013, when Ryan Stanton, 24 at the time, was claimed off waivers by Vancouver.

Clendening, the type of offensive defenseman the Canucks were desperate to add, was also going to find it tough to put his best skills to use for the Blackhawks, who entrust the large majority of their power-play time to veterans Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Keith, of course, is locked up through 2023. And while Seabrook can become an unrestricted free agent in 2016, one would think the ‘Hawks will do everything they can to get him re-signed.

If they can’t, well, again, lots of young, right-shooting d-men in the system.

Hamhuis ‘hopeful’ to play on road trip; Canucks could really use him


From The Province’s Ben Kuzma:

That, of course, would be Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who’s been out with a groin injury since Nov. 20. The Canucks are being cautious with the Team Canada blue-liner, not wanting to risk a re-injury by putting him back into the lineup too early. But at the same time, they’ve won just five games in their last 14, and talk of another second-half collapse is gaining steam.

“We’ve really missed his presence,” coach Willie Desjardins said of Hamhuis.

One player in particular that’s missed his presence is veteran Kevin Bieksa, who’s been paired with one of Ryan Stanton or Luca Sbisa since Hamhuis has been out. No disrespect to those two, but they’re not nearly the caliber of Hamhuis, and it’s shown. Stanton and Bieksa have especially struggled as a duo.

After tomorrow’s game in Nashville, Vancouver makes stops in Philadelphia, Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay, before getting a week off for the All-Star Break and starting a six-game home stand.