If, or when, Chris Tanev hits the open market, there will be no shortage of teams vying for his services. And as valuable as he’s been to the Canucks for the past decade, a 5×5 contract should easily be out of the team’s consideration range. With the recent rumours that that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to offer, the Vancouver Canucks may have to look elsewhere to fill that hole in their roster. Luckily, this year’s free agent pool presents some realistic options in that regard. One player that should be on the Canucks radar, is Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The Vancouver Canucks Should Target Trevor van Riemsdyk
At 29 years old, van Riemsdyk still has plenty of hockey left ahead of him. He’s managed to stay relatively healthy throughout his career, with 82, 58, 79, 78, and 49 games played in the last five seasons. That kind of durability would surely be a welcome addition to the Canucks blueline, where only three players dressed for more than 60 games this season.
He saw a fairly significant drop in ice time over the last two years, playing an average of 15:04 and 14:52 respectively. In comparison, in his first three seasons in the league, he was playing an average of 19:59, 18:25, 17:03 per night. However, he found himself in the press box on multiple occasions this year, seemingly always being one mistake away from a scratch. But while his inconsistency was cause for frustration on multiple occasions, he was splendid when he was on his game.
When in the lineup, he’s long been the more defensive option on any pairing he played on, allowing his more offensively-adept partners to play a bit more freely. To be more specific, players like Noah Hanifin, Dougie Hamilton, and Jake Gardiner. Does that sound familiar, Canucks fans?
Trevor van Riemsdyk – The Analytics
With a career high of 16 points, van Riemsdyk’s never been one to push the pace offensively. Surprisingly however, he’s been an analytics darling ever since his rookie season, and that trend continued into his first season with the Hurricanes. He’s only logged a sub-50 percent Corsi and Fenwick once in his career, both in his rookie season. In the following four seasons, his standard possession metrics were as follows.
2016-17: 50.7 percent
2017-18: 55.3 percent
2018-19: 54.5 percent
2019-20: 53.1 percent
2016-17: 51.3 percent
2017-18: 55.3 percent
2018-19: 54.5 percent
2019-20: 51.6 percent
As you can see, he’s always been an exceptional player by those metrics. However, his RAPM* took a bit of a hit in the last two seasons as he failed to record positive z-scores in his xGF/60 (Expected goals for) or GF/60 (Goals For). It is worth noting though, that in the seasons prior, he was nothing short of fantastic in those regards. Even with those dips across the board, he did his job well as a defensive defenceman, effectively limiting the opposition’s Corsi/60 and xGF/60. This is visualized in the graphs below, as provided by evolving-hockey.com.
*Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus
And for reference, 2015-2018.
What a Potential Contract Could Look Like
Trevor van Riemsdyk is coming off of a two year contract with an AAV of $2.3M. Although he’ll likely receive a raise from that contract, it doesn’t look as though a significant raise is in his future. This due to his recent dip in play, and of course, the flat cap. That being said, I would expect his new AAV to be in the ballpark of $2.7M. This both offers him a nice enough raise from his current contract, and is a palatable cap hit for the Vancouver Canucks.
Trevor van Riemsdyk shows all the signs of being a low risk, and relatively high reward signing. The numbers tell us that he could very reliably fill a third, or even second pairing role on the team. Of course, he wouldn’t be a direct replacement for Chris Tanev. We know that. He’d be only 1/3 of the RHD working together to fill the Tanev-sized gap. Even still, van Riemsdyk will be relied on more heavily in Vancouver than he was this season in Carolina. The Vancouver Canucks defensive depth isn’t even on the same stratosphere as that of the Hurricanes. However, he’s proven that he can be an effective player playing 17+ minutes a night. In fact, the analytics show that he thrives with increased responsibilities. His best analytical seasons (in terms of RAPM) came in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The key would be translating that play to a new team (again), but it’s nothing he hasn’t done before. The Vancouver Canucks brass will be very pleased with the value he can offer on a reasonable contract.