We may end up seeing Tucker Poolman as a healthy scratch, not even halfway through the first year of a $ 10 million four-year contract.
Early in his Canucks career, it is safe to say that Poolman has not come as advertised. At the time of signing, Jim Benning said, “losing Chris Tanev hurt us,” and that “we think Tucker Poolman has some of that in him.”
Poolman was expected to come in and play with one of Quinn Hughes or Oliver Ekman-Larsson and be the defensive piece that allows his more offensive partner to shine. Unfortunately for Poolman, he has been played by Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and – when healthy and accessible – Travis Hamonic.
Puck possession and zone outings have been a battle for Poolman this season. He seems fine when defending at his own end and is also an above-average skater. The big problem in Poolman’s game is when the puck is on his stick. After a couple of decent matches to start the season, it felt like opposing teams also noticed this weakness and started taking advantage of it.
The accumulation of Tucker Poolman puck handling errors that just absolutely kills #Canucks is really something.
– Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) November 25, 2021
When we play with Hughes or OEL, we have seen a drastic decrease in the number of these players. Poolman’s presence has dropped Hughes and OEL’s Corsi, goals for and expected goals for – all while the pairings receive a 0.944 and 0.975 save percentage of five against five.
Hughes sees a massive bump when he plays with Luke Schenn, as the pairing’s Corsi currently sits at 54.6%. Their goal for is at 66.7% and their expected goal for teams at 55.5% in 108 minutes of five-on-five play. The only better defensive partner for Hughes this season has been Myers, who poses with respectable numbers in his 290 minutes with OEL.
Travis Hamonic’s return will raise questions about whether Poolman will stay in the lineup or whether he will be sent to the press box. We have not seen many Hamonic or Poolman on the left and the Canucks have been shown to be content to play Kyle Burroughs on the left this season. Burroughs has been one of the only defensive partners where Poolman has shown himself well in possession numbers. This is probably because the quality of the competition drops when Poolman plays on a third pair, and if it works for him and the team, then so be it.
As a 12-year veteran of the Hamonic returns to the ranks, Poolman can find himself on the outside and peeking inside. When Hamonic plays on a third pair with the Burroughs, the duo have 60% Corsi in their 22 minutes with five-on-five ice time together.
Hamonic could slide to the left to play with Poolman, as Hamonic has played quite a bit left-hander this season. He was used as a left-back in Abbotsford during his brief stint in early December. It just seems like Kyle Burroughs has worked fine on his off-side, and head coach Bruce Boudreau also has Brad Hunt on the list. As the season progresses, it will be more of an uphill battle for Poolman to get ice time if there is not much damage to the defense and COVID stays away from the team.
On top of all this, Jack Rathbone sits in Abbotsford, and after some rehab matches where he gets a boatload of minutes, he should fit right into Boudreau’s fast coaching style. As the calendar changes, this is how I want to rank the defense core.
Poolman is an NHL defender, but the Canucks simply have better bottom pairing options on their roster.
The unfortunate fact that Poolman earns $ 2,500,000 over the next four years puts the Canucks’ cap in a lousy pretzel. You do not want your seventh defender to earn two and a half million dollars, but when the two and a half million dollars player is played by Luke Schenn, you will have to make difficult decisions.
We must also remember that Hamonic will earn $ 3,000,000 a year for the next two years, and having him as a healthy scratch is not a good situation either.
Maybe Schenn’s game falls out and he’s sent back to the press box instead of Hamonic or Poolman, and then the Canucks can utilize their cap space a little better, but the fact is, we’m not even halfway through the first year of Poolman’s four. -year, a $ 10,000,000 contract and a healthy scratch may be on the way in the Canucks’ next few games.
– JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 28, 2021
The analysis community warned that Poolman is not a top-4 defender, and the fact that the Canucks have a third-pair defender earning less than a million dollars, this contract should be at the top of Jim Rutherford’s list to address the future .
It’s still very early in the contract too, and Poolman can find success as the bottom pair defender on the way forward. He has certainly the abilities to be on an NHL third pair, but gets paid as a player who should never be in the conversation about being healthy itchy.
Maybe he will turn it around and prove that many people are wrong.
For now, the discourse of putting a $ 2,500,000 player in the press box is a serious conversation, and when Jack Rathbone returns to the NHL, this defensive team will be even harder for Poolman to find a home in. Rutherford and his management team could try to move. Poolman, if another team is desperate for right-backs, but the four years on his contract make it a tough contract to swallow unless you can find another GM who likes Poolman as much as Benning did.
Speaking of deals, Stephan Roget wrote about cheap right-backs that Canucks can target, and you can read that article RIGHT HERE.
At the very least, the Canucks will have an NHL-caliber defender available in the event of an injury to one of their right-backs. Poolman is certainly a skilled NHL defender, but with his problems with puck moves, he should not be near the top-four.