Two lackluster outings in a row on home ice as the Canucks continue to struggle without the concussed Sami Salo and Alain Vigneault has had enough. The Canucks announced on Wednesday that they would be re-calling defenceman Chris Tanev from the AHL.
Tanev is getting the recall despite the fact that the Canucks have seven other healthy defencemen on their roster. Salo has been out for five games and this move signals to me that Chris Tanev is not getting an audition as a spare part on the Canucks, rather he is getting an audition to be a major part of the team going forward.
The plan all along this season was to bring Chris Tanev along slowly. He looked calm and cool under pressure in 25 regular season and 5 playoff games with the Canucks, but he is still only two years removed from playing with the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Canucks wanted to ensure that he got a lot of ice time and got a chance to play in all situations in the AHL.
Now with the injury to Sami Salo, there is a gaping hole at right defence. Even when Salo returns, there will be a bit of a gap on the right side, as Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo are the only right handed shots with the big club. Chris Tanev, as you might have guessed, also shoots right. Thus far the Canucks have chosen to play with one defenceman playing the ‘wrong side’ on their third pairing.
The Canucks ought to be in the market for a top 4 defenceman (as insurance if and when Sami Salo gets hurt again), but perhaps Chris Tanev can be that guy. Certainly they have big plans for him down the road, but maybe the future is now for the 22 year old. Just like how Ryan Kesler’s injury in October gave Cody Hodgson his chance to prove himself, this injury to Salo may offer the same for Tanev.
Alain Vigneault may choose to give Tanev time on the third pairing and play him sparingly, but I don’t think he will or should. This audition for Tanev should be to see if he can play with Alex Edler on the second pairing. Chris Tanev, your time is now.