The Vancouver Canucks locked up Chris Tanev to a new five-year deal on Tuesday, the team announced on its website. As is standard now, terms of the deal were not released, but they should drip out soon.
(UPDATE: The five-year deal is reportedly worth a total $22.5 million – that’s a $4.5 million cap hit per-year.)
“Chris has developed into an excellent NHL defenceman and is an extremely important part of our team,” said Vancouver’s general manager, Jim Benning, in a team statement. “He’s a player you want on the ice in the most critical points of a game and we’re excited about having him with our group as we continue to play to win today, with an eye to the future.”
The future of Tanev, who joined the Canucks as a free agent signed by Mike Gillis in 2010, has been a topic of discussion and concern since he made his full-time debut during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, filling in admirably and stably on an injured defensive core against the eventual champion Boston Bruins.
A restricted free agent seemingly every day of every year, Tanev had signed two consecutive one-year deals before the 2014-15 season – his current contract was set to expire this summer, paying him $2 million.
Tanev has two goals and 16 total points in 60 games this season, and has evolved into (perhaps) the team’s most reliable defensive player. When healthy, he and Alex Edler have also formed the Canucks’ No. 1 blueline pairing for Willie Desjardins’ lineup.
Tanev was also a favourite of last year’s coach, John Tortorella, who often praised the now-25 year old: “He’s picked up how we want to play quicker than anybody out of the whole group,” Tortorella said in October, shortly after he took over – not long before the season went off the rails.
Later on in the season, Tortorella joked that he’d been told to stop saying so many good things about Tanev, since the defenceman’s contract was expiring the following summer.
The Canucks host the Winnipeg Jets tonight with crucial playoff points up for grabs – Vancouver sits second in the Pacific Division, but barely ahead of both Los Angeles and Calgary, while the Jets are holding down the second Wild Card spot.
More Benning, on Tanev…
In a press conference on Tuesday, Benning elaborated on Tanev’s deal and said he had asked the young defenceman to sign a one-year deal last summer, in the hope it would give the Canucks flexibility “to add depth” to their roster (via TSN 1040 radio).
“He was understanding of it, he wants to win,” Benning said. “We told him that if he agrees to do that, we’ll look after him in the long-term, and that’s what happened today.”
Benning also praised Tanev for his 2014-15 season, which has seen the defender log first-line minutes with Alex Edler – another talented defenceman who had, until this season, left a lot questioning his consistency and back-end game.
“(Chris) plays with a lot of poise out there, he has a high hockey IQ. He’s an excellent skater… his transition game, his ability to get the puck, skate it up ice, and move it to our forwards is excellent.
“We’re excited to get this deal done.”
Vancouver has several other pending free agents they’ll have to either lock up or let go of this summer, including recent additions Derek Dorsett and Shawn Matthias, plus Brad Richardson and restricted free agents Linden Vey, Ronalds Kenins, Luca Sbisa, Yannick Weber, Frank Corrado, Jacob Markstrom, and others.
(See Vancouver’s complete cap and contract situation via HockeyBuzz.com)
BC Lions sign ex NFL receiver Hawkins
That other team, Vancouver’s BC Lions, announced their own signing on Tuesday – the CFL team has inked ex-NFL receiver Lavelle Hawkins.
Terms of the deal – its money and its length – were not released.
Hawkins, 28, has played mainly for Tennessee, drafted by the Titans in the fourth round in 2008. He had 71 catches for 771 yards and one touchdown, in five seasons in Nashville. Only only appeared in a full 16-game slate once, in 2011, totalling 47 catches for 470 yards.
He also played for the San Diego Chargers in 2013, and has spent time on the books of New England, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay.
“Lavelle is an elusive and talented receiver who brings significant experience to our team,” said the Lions’ new coach, Jeff Tedford, who coached Hawkins with the University of California’s Golden Bears.
Hawkins, who’s from Stockton, California, played on the same Cal team as current NFL stars DeSean Jackson and Justin Forsett.
“He’s a gifted route-runner who will be able to take advantage of our larger field and I look forward to seeing how he will contribute to our offence,” added Tedford, in a statement posted to the Lions’ website.
VIDEO: Chris Tanev Highlights, compiled by Canucks TV