The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenceman Chris Tanev to a five-year contract worth a reported $4.45-million per season.
Tanev, a 25-year-old from Toronto who went undrafted, joined the Canucks in May, 2010, after a season at the Rochester Institute of Technology. One year later, he was manning the blue line in the Stanley Cup finals, thrust into action for the final three of seven games when the Canucks had lost several regular defenceman to injury and suspension. Even as the Boston Bruins won two of three to seize the Cup, Tanev at 21 was already a rock-steady defender – which became his hallmark. In the years since, Tanev has risen to the top line of Vancouver's defence.
"Chris has developed into an excellent NHL defenceman and is an extremely important part of our team," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement on Tuesday morning as the deal was announced. "He's a player you want on the ice in the most critical points of a game and we're excited about having him with our group as we continue to play to win today, with an eye to the future."
Tanev is foremost a defender. His offence remains modest, two goals and 14 assists for 16 points in 60 games this season. He leads Vancouver in penalty-kill time, an average of 2:46 a game. He has also blocked 153 shots this season, which ranks 13th in the league.
This contract could be consider one based on advanced stats. Tanev truly isn't much of an obvious offensive contributor: of NHL players who have skated 1,250 minutes this year, Tanev is last with shots on goal, with 44. But measured by puck possession, Tanev is the leading Canucks defenceman to push shot attempts when he's on the ice - and the team is notably weaker without him.
Tanev's deal runs through the 2020-21 season. This is his first long-term deal, after a series of short contracts. He recently missed three weeks because of a concussion. He returned March 9.
Other young defenceman Tanev's age have signed similar deals this season, including Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings, five years at $4-million a year, and Marco Scandella of the Minnesota Wild, the same deal, five years at $4-million per.
On Tuesday at a press conference at Rogers Arena, Benning said the Canucks and Tanev agreed last summer to a one-year deal to give the team roster flexibility for depth this year with the promise the Canucks would "look after him in the long-term."
"He wants to win," Benning told reporters of what was effectively a bridge deal in place this season.
Benning praised Tanev's defence, an agile skate who is rarely in the wrong position. Benning said Tanev also is strong in transition, moving the puck up to Vancouver forwards. Also, paired with Alex Edler, he has helped revived Edler after Edler's awful year last season.
Because Tanev doesn't score much, but is a top-notch defence and pushes the puck up the ice, Benning said Tanev is somewhat unique in terms of comparing him with other defencemen and their contracts.
"Such a smart player," said Benning. "He plays with a lot of poise."