The Canucks were deep on the blueline and you could distribute a few extra minutes to Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa. Hamhuis came back January 16th and two games later Kevin Bieksa took a blast off the hand and he was out. No problem.
His 21 minutes per game could be eaten up by recent call up Frank Corrado and newly acquired Adam Clendening. It was too bad that Corrado got hurt on February 1st but the other big three would play their usual minutes and all would be well.
Now here is where there could have been a problem.
On February 14th Chris Tanev and Alex Edler both got hurt. Edler had been averaging over 24 minutes a game and Tanev over 21. Who could fill in there? The Canucks were coming off a crucial 3-2 loss in Calgary and were playing the next night against the hottest team in the NHL, the Minnesota Wild, and then heading out on a five-game road trip. Raise your hand if you thought they would go 3-2-0. Give the Canucks credit for putting a high value on depth and give them credit for recognizing talent.
Luca Sbisa was part of the Ryan Kesler trade and was penciled in as a fifth/sixth defenceman. In the last six games with Bieksa, Tanev and Edler out, he has averaged over 23 minutes a game and is second to only Dan Hamhuis, who is averaging over 25.
In his career Yannick Weber has averaged under 15 minutes of ice time per game. He had been a healthy scratch for the three games prior to the Tanev, Edler injuries. He has come in and played more than 20 minutes a game in the last six. Ryan Stanton and Adam Clendening have been paired up. Clendening played his first game with the Canucks on February 1st. Ryan Stanton had played 65 games coming into this season. After playing more than 300 games in the American League, Alex Biega made his NHL debut on February 16th and scored the game winner.
I think it is important to look at the pedigree of these players and why they can be good fill-ins. Can any of them take the place of Bieksa or Edler or Tanev? The answer would be a big fat no, but they can do the job and give the Canucks a chance to win.
Sbisa is a former 1st round draft choice who has played more than 300 NHL games even though he missed most of last year with a hand injury and just turned 25. Weber was an OHL all star and on the all rookie team in the AHL when he played in Hamilton. He is 26. Ryan Stanton is 25. He had over 74 points in his last two years in Moose Jaw to go along with more than 200 penalty minutes. Clendening was on the first all-star team last year in the AHL and also when he was at Boston University. He is even younger at 22. Biega is a little older at 26, but has already put in four years at Harvard and another four in the AHL.
You cannot replace Bieksa, Edler or Tanev, but it is good to know that you have the depth to fill in and still win.