How Andrew Alberts lost his job to a guy with one career NHL game

The Canucks left a lot of fans scratching their heads when they claimed Ryan Stanton off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. The move squeezed Hunter Shinkaruk out of the roster, forcing the club to send him back to the WHL, dismaying many excited fans and belying Mike Gillis’s indication that this year’s team would see an injection of youth. Furthermore, it flew in the face of John Tortorella’s announced intention to start the season with only seven defencemen.

Stanton certainly didn’t look like an NHLer, and his career NHL game totals — one — did little to convince us otherwise. We wondered if Mike Gillis had worked himself into a somnambulistic stupor over a busy weekend. It really didn’t make a lot of sense to give this guy the precious 23rd roster spot.

But as it turns out, he didn’t get the 23rd roster spot. Andrew Alberts did (or maybe Tom Sestito). At Wednesday’s practice, Stanton was skating on the third pairing with Chris Tanev, an indication that he’ll be there on Thursday’s opening night while Alberts and Yannick Weber get scratched like they just adopted kittens.

Iain MacIntyre thinks so too:

 

In other words: suit up, Alberts. Like with an actual suit. Because you’re not playing.

I don’t really consider this is a knock on Yannick Weber. As a right-handed defenceman, he was never going to play with Chris Tanev, another righty, unless the blueline was really decimated by injuries. The Weber signing appeared, to me, to be a reaction to the Canucks being the Leftorium of defences last year. I expect him to draw in if one of Bieksa or Tanev can’t go, unless the injury appears long-term, in which case we’ll likely see Frank Corrado leapfrog him on the depth chart.

But Alberts was supposed to be the third pairing lefty, and now it would appear that the Canucks feel Ryan Stanton is the better option. Clearly, they paid attention this preseason.

Alberts played in four of the six preseason games: both losses versus the Sharks, the embarrassing 5-2 loss in Edmonton, and the 6-1 rout of the Phoenix Coyotes at home. He took a minor penalty in every single game, including a momentum-killing double minor in the 3-2 loss to San Jose less than a minute after Hunter Shinkaruk had tied the game, and a roughing penalty the next time out versus San Jose that led to Logan Couture’s back-breaking fourth goal of the night a minute before the end of the second.

And, despite spending time in the penalty box in every game — seventeen minutes, to be exact, he still managed to be on the ice for eight goals against. Eight.

Let’s take a look at a few.

In Alberts’ first game, he’s on the ice for John McCarthy’s go-ahead goal with under three minutes to go in the second, a terrible time to give up a goal. Watch McCarthy blow by him like he’s bolted to the ice and retrieve the puck cleanly on his own dump-in. Keep an eye out for Alberts doing basically nothing helpful after.

Then recall that it was Alberts’ penalty that allowed the Sharks to retake the lead after Shinkaruk tied it up coming out of the intermission. One could argue that he cost the Canucks this game. Fortunately, it was a contest that didn’t matter, but we’ll assume that noted bad loser John Tortorella didn’t just shrug it off.

Amazingly, the second time out versus San Jose, Alberts was even more damaging, on the ice for every goal against, save the aforementioned Logan Couture goal that was scored when he was in the penalty box.

On the first goal, he lost a puck he should have controlled in the corner to start the scoring play:

On the Sharks’ second, they’re in the zone because Alberts was beaten at his own blueline and gave up a partial breakaway to Tyler Kennedy:

He didn’t recover very well either, going out of his way to make a lame, redundant hit along the boards and leaving his partner with no one to pass to. Hence, that brutal turnover.

And finally, he is directly, embarrassingly at fault on the fourth goal. After the Canucks win the draw back to him, he fails to skate onto the puck in time. His lack of acceleration gives the Sharks time to reach the puck first and poke it past him. A second later, it’s in the net.

Slower than the Wi-Fi in the cafe where I’m writing this post. Get it together, cafe.

All in all, it was a terrible training camp, and the best way to illustrate how bad it was is this: after that performance, Alberts was such a liability that the Canucks decided they’d rather take their chances on a guy with one NHL game.

11 comments

  1. So sad
    October 2, 2013

    I feel bad for Alberts. I was glad to see that he did end up with a one year contract this off season, even though it was at a significant pay cut. He’s a good, hard worker who brings grit and physicality but just doesn’t have the rest of the package to make him a consistent, dependable NHL caliber defender. Or he doesn’t bring enough grit and physicality to outweigh his lack of foot speed.

    If he can’t provide offence nor effective defence nor sufficient timely physicality, well ….

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    Rating: +18 (from 20 votes)
  2. ikillchicken
    October 2, 2013

    If memory serves though, Alberts does this basically EVERY year. He’s always awful at first to the point that he plays himself right out of the lineup. But, by mid season he rounds into form and by the end of the year he usually looks like a pretty solid 3rd pairing guy. It’s actually fairly common with a lot of big, slow players. They just take longer to get going.

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    Rating: +5 (from 11 votes)
    • Amor de Cosmos
      October 2, 2013

      This. He has dire patches — remember the play-off against LA when he arrived here? But they don’t last long. I’m not too worried, most of the time he’s Mr Reliable. And, as I noted in a previous post, his first kid has just been born, which takes time to get used to. I reckon he’ll be back soon enough, skating rings around oppo forwards as usual.

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      Rating: +1 (from 5 votes)
  3. Frank N.
    October 2, 2013

    Not all of those goals are as easily attributed to Alberts as you want to make it seem. Other mistakes occurred before or after on the ice as well. Having said that, he’s never been the most alert and quick to react kinda guys it seems. And for his size, you wish he would play bigger than he does. I feel that if he dropped on the depth chart with Torts, that would be the main reason. As, in other words, he is not stiff enough!

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    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      October 2, 2013

      There are other errors for sure, but the point is that Alberts makes errors on each play, and I guarantee you Tortorella and co. noticed each one.

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      Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  4. Doop
    October 2, 2013

    Thank you. Alberts-Weber made Eddie Lack look slightly more Cloutier-esque than he deserved and it’s nice to get a little bit of vindication saying to the nay-nayers that our dreamy Swedish goalie isn’t really really bad

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    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  5. Cody
    October 2, 2013

    Seems like the decision was made based on performance. I like decisions based on performance

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
  6. Joel
    October 2, 2013

    All this makes sense, but how was Stanton in the preseason in comparison? Any details?

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    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  7. PB
    October 2, 2013

    I’d never heard of Stanton before but he’s 24 and reading the reports about him in the Blackhawks system makes him sound like a much more reliable defensive prospect than Alberts — a known quantity and a rather limited one. Sounds like Stanton was a shutdown defenseman and pretty consistent, at least in the AHL. Alberts has looked alternately terrible and just ok the past few years — not particularly intimidating, a few big hits here or there, and some poor positional play compounded by being an especially immobile pylon when it comes to his skating. It makes more sense to have a guy like Stanton — if he is as responsible defensively as his time in the AHL makes it seem like — to throw 8-9 minutes a night to while getting lots of quality time for Corrado in the minors.

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    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  8. NMB
    October 2, 2013

    It’s too bad because he seemed like he took a real step forward at the end of last year. This preseason he’s been god awful though. Being paired with Weber didn’t help but at least Weber brings offense and mobility to the table. Alberts’ shaky defense and limited physicality mean there isn’t much risk in snagging Stanton.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  9. NarkusMaslund
    October 3, 2013

    It’s encouraging to me that rather than hope that he figures it out (I agree with several of the above commentators that he likely will), they’ve gone and attempted to patch the hole immediately. It does appear that management realizes that this year is not going to be as much of a divisional cakewalk as the last few, and are attempting to hit the ground running. May not work, but the way they are approaching it seems appropriate.

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