Earlier Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks signed defenceman Erik Gudbranson to a three-year contract extension worth $12 million.
Prior to the signing, it was thought that the blueliner could potentially be on the trading block.
The Canucks are currently 20 points out of a post-season berth with 23 games to go, including a tilt tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.
Gudbranson was acquired by Vancouver in 2016 as part of a trade that sent Jared McCann and a pile of picks to the Florida Panthers.
The 26-year-old has seven years of NHL experience. This season, he has two goals and two assists in 41 games. He’s a minus-4 with 41 shots on goal.
That’s a long way off from an impressive junior career, where Gudbranson put up a dozen goals in 2010-2011 in the OHL.
Of course, offensive prowess isn’t everything and Vancouver is high on Gudbranson – at least in the front office.
“Erik is an important part of our team and provides a physical element to our blueline,” said general manager Jim Benning. “His leadership qualities help us as we continue to integrate younger players in our lineup. He is a quality person, a great teammate, outstanding in the community and we are excited to have him as part of our team moving forward.”
After the signing, the Canucks sit with $19.25 million committed to five defencemen for next season. Troy Stecher, Derrick Pouliot and Philip Holm are pending restricted free agents.
Make no mistake about it, that’s a pretty penny for Gudbranson and Co. And it’s hard to justify the defenceman’s new salary, especially when you consider that he’s now making Kris Russell and Michael Stone money.
Is he worth it? That’s a tough case to make. On one hand, he’s got size and that’s something the Canucks want along the blueline.
On the other hand, there’s virtually no offensive upside worth noting and pushing deeper into the advanced statistics reveals a depressing picture. Gudbranson is worst among Vancouver blueliners in Corsi For percentage and has four times more giveaways than takeaways. That’s a problem.
The bet for the Canucks is in the intangibles, which means the sort of thing Benning was talking about. It’s hard to analytical minds to process something that doesn’t show up in the numbers, but Vancouver is hoping for toughness, size and power from the newly extended Ottawa native.
This contract extension may not make sense on paper, but, to borrow one of hockey’s most worthless clichés, it is what it is.