Trent Leith / February 2, 2021
You always hear people in hockey say things like “he had a quiet night and that’s what you look for from a defenceman”, it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s correct. Jordie Benn could be among one of the major fixes the Canucks need with this current roster, in order for it to live up to that timeless turn of phrase.
I knew Benn had slotted into the lineup and was succeeding in his role alongside Quinn Hughes. But it wasn’t until this past week that he really jumped off the page for me. There was more to his game that I was missing, and sure enough, it was that he wasn’t just playing shotgun to Quinn Hughes, he was actually excelling at the new role.
Who is the Real Tanev Replacement?
Yukon Cornelius Jordie Benn signed with Vancouver for 2019-20 and entered the lineup as a third-pairing defender. A couple of months into the season he fell to the 7th defenceman, as Oscar Fantanberg found himself an everyday player. Jordie is a left shot that prefers to play on the right side, Green, on the other hand, prefers his defenders to play on their strong side. It wasn’t until this season when Travis Hamonic got injured, that Benn found himself an opportunity to join the lineup, and on his preferred side to boot.
Jordie Benn has been averaging about 15.5 minutes a game and over two minutes of penalty kill time since rejoining the team this season. This after being out due to Covid-19 related issues. Benn has three points, four hits and 12 blocks in his six games in the lineup and has been very defensively reliable on Quinn’s Flank.
Hamonic, in five games played, was less of an ideal match for Quinn as he was more eager to chip in offensively. When Quinn Hughes is on the ice, his partner needs to focus on defensive coverage, that is why the Tanev/Hughes line worked so well for the Canucks,
Dad Tanev would stay at home and focus on defense while Quinn was on odd-man rushes with all his friends in the offensive zone.
Can Benn Lock Himself in as 2nd Pairing Defender?
Benn has been a little bit of found money this year, as he was expected to be in the press box or on the taxi squad after an uncharacteristically down year in 2019-20. It was expected by most that Edler, Schmidt, Myers, Hamonic and Hughes would make up five of the top six and a rotating class of rookies would fill the 6th spot. Of course, the season did start that way, partly due to circumstances outside the team’s control. However, ever since Benn got his chance on the ice, he has made a solid campaign to remain in that spot. As long as Benn can continue to play well with Hughes, it’s going to be tough to take him out of his current role, since he has been the best fit alongside Hughes so far this season. Hamonic remaining on IR gives Benn a longer runway to continue to showcase his ability to play meaningful minutes with Hughes.
Benn has looked much more like the defenceman the Canucks thought they were signing back in 2019, and that is a huge win for the team that has been struggling defensively this season. I personally chalk his success on the second line, to taking number 8 off Chris Tanev now that Tanev has signed in Calgary. Jordie Benn is tricking staff into getting ice time with Quinn by wearing number 8, playing responsibly and playing on the coaching staff’s nostalgia. Whatever the reason for his success, it is making the team better in their own zone.