Chris Tanev signed on the dotted line Tuesday morning making his new five-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks official.
True to his unspoken nature, Tanev simply smiled, shook general manager Jim Benning’s hand and said thank you after the two put pen to paper earlier today.
Because he was preparing for practice, Tanev inked his new deal wearing a grey Canucks hat and hoodie, blue team shorts and flip-flops, but that’s the 25-year-old in a nutshell.
Long hair, don’t care. He’s always cool, calm and collected, which Benning loves, but he also likes the in-game edge Tanev brings.
“He’s a real humble person, he’s quiet, but I like to say there’s a transformation when he puts on his equipment where he turns into a real competitor once he gets out on the ice,” said Benning.
“He’s about the team and he’s about winning and he has all the attributes we like in a player, so it’s a good day for us and we’re happy that he signed.”
Signing ‘Grease,’ as he’s lovingly called by teammates because of his slicked flowing hair, was a priority for Benning this season and he’s excited to have the defenceman will be patrolling the blueline through the end of the 2020-21 NHL season.
The poise Tanev routinely displays isn’t teachable; he understands the game within the game, dissects each play whether he is in control of the puck or not, and he is able to react before others with innate ability.
Combine that with his skating and puck skill and you have a very good defenceman.
“He’s what we call a transition defensive defenceman,” explained Benning. “He’s a real good skater and has high hockey IQ. He takes away time and space from the forwards and he’s smart in his position defensively, but when he gets the puck, he can skate it up the ice and he makes good plays getting it up to the forwards.
“He’s played in our matchup pair all year and has played against the other team’s top lines. He’s a competitive guy and he’s played really well.”
Tanev, who has appeared in 216 career NHL games, all with the Canucks, and has 10 goals and 33 assists, was first brought to the attention of the team by pro scout Jonathan Bates, who got some insider information from Dave Gagner (then with the Canucks), as he coached Tanev years earlier.
Once Vancouver’s scouts set their sights on Tanev, there was no turning back and from a free-agent signee out of the Atlantic Hockey Association, to backbone of the Canucks defence, this is a homerun of a recruitment.
Tanev was on Benning’s radar when he was with the Bruins, so he wasn’t surprised that out of nowhere the 21-year-old d-man played three games for the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup final – and played with veteran poise.
“We wanted to sign him as a college free-agent,” revealed Benning. “The thing that always stood out about him was how smart he was and how he reads the play. He’s just continued to get better, so he was a guy that long-term we wanted to be a part of our group.”
That became a reality on this day, much to the delight of Tanev.