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:
Still getting to know Torts, but when he says “don’t read anything into the pairings,” read everything into the pairings. #stanton
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacVanSun) October 2, 2013
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.