Vancouver’s Offensive Defense

Jeff Angus

2009-11-25

Christian Ehrhoff

 

One of the more interesting fantasy situations heading in to this season was out West in Vancouver. Both Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler were coming off of career seasons, and were the go-to guys on Vancouver's power play in 2008-09. However, the Canucks traded for the speedy Christian Ehrhoff and signed veteran Mathieu Schneider, and both were expected to produce on the power play for the Canucks this season. How are things looking at the quarter-point of the season? Where do Vancouver’s defensemen fit in best? I'll do a player-by-player analysis and include my predictions for the rest of the season.

 

Kevin Bieksa – Bieksa's offensive numbers have been negatively impacted by the arrival of Ehrhoff and Schneider, like many predicted. After scoring 11 goals last year, he is on pace for only four this season. He recorded 43 points last season, but the assist drop off isn't there, as he is on pace for a respectable 39 this season. His PIM totals are way up (on pace for over 200), thanks to a few misconducts. His power play time has dropped from 3:53 per game to just a shade over 3 this season. He's on pace for 153 shots on goal, the exact number he had last season. Bieksa's best season in the NHL (back in 2006-07) saw him fire over 200 shots on goal, but his role with the Canucks has changed.

 

What does this mean? Bieksa makes a great buy-low candidate if you need goals from a defenseman. Don't expect him to produce much more than the 39 points he is currently on pace for, though. Don’t expect him to see as much first unit PP time with the Sedin twins.

 

Christan Ehrhoff – Ehrhoff has been far and away Vancouver's best defenseman so far this season. He has not shown why he was dubbed "Error-hoff" in San Jose at times, as he leads the team with a plus-minus rating of +11 (which is even more surprising considering he had a team-worst –12 on the Sharks last season). Ehrhoff is on pace for 15 goals and over 50 points, so you may think he is a prime sell high candidate. However, that may not be the case. Like Bieksa, his shot totals this season mirror what he posted in 2008-09 – on pace for 164, had 165 last season. He is seeing 3:09 on the power play, and I expect this number to climb as his power play duties will only increase. It may be optimistic to expect 15 goals, but Ehrhoff has a great shot and is hitting the net with regularity. With the way he skates and joins the rush, 50 points is a real possibility.

 

What does this mean?