One player that has stepped up his game for the Vancouver Canucks early this season is Tucker Poolman. The 28-year-old was brought in as a free agent this offseason to be a third-pair defender. With Travis Hamonic’s absence from the team, he has been forced to take on a bigger role. The early results have been positive, especially five-on-five, where he has developed some chemistry with Quinn Hughes. All he has to do now is work on pucks unluckily deflecting off him into his own net.
Poolman Leads the Way at Five on Five
Through three games, the pairing of Hughes and Poolman has led the way in five on five ice-time. The pairing has yet to concede a goal while on the ice and has helped generate two for in just over 38 minutes of ice time. Their most impressive performance came against the Philadelphia Flyers, where the duo registered a 60% Corsi and a 62.5% scoring chances for percentage in 10:58 of five on five ice-time.
The other successful partner Poolman has shown some chemistry with is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. In 10 minutes together, the duo has 66.67 shots-for percentage and has allowed zero high danger chances against. This duo worked well in the preseason and has shown they can shut down players at five on five.
Having a player that has some form of chemistry with multiple partners is an advantage for the Canucks. If an injury occurs, Canucks head coach Travis Green knows he can shuffle Poolman to fill whatever minutes are needed. He may not be the flashiest player, but he gets the job done at five on five.
Poolman Doesn’t Take Penalties
One underrated part of Poolman’s game is his ability to avoid the penalty box. He has played a total of 2071:35 minutes in his career and only has been called for nine penalties. Last season, he only had one in 714 minutes of ice time. He knows how to get in the correct position, strip the puck from opponents and play within the rules to a high level. This will be key as he will be relied heavily upon this season while shorthanded.
Poolman Does Work on the Penalty Kill
Early in the year, the Canucks have had trouble killing penalties. It has cost them as the team has allowed a power-play goal against in every game they have faced. Despite that, Poolman has done an excellent job shutting down the opposition while shorthanded so far. While on the ice, the Canucks have only allowed one five-on-four power-play goal against. They did allow a second, but that was a six-on-four opportunity during the Flyers game.
His best game on the penalty kill came against division rivals the Edmonton Oilers. Poolman was matched up against the top unit of the Oilers for 2:31. He helped limit the league’s most dangerous power play to four shots on goal, three scoring chances, and two high danger chances against. For reference, the Oilers last season registered the third most high danger chances on the power play last season and the fourth most shots for.
Poolman will be a big part of this penalty kill and will need to continue to step up while shorthanded. Currently, Tyler Myers is the other right-shot defenceman who coach Green trusts on the penalty kill. Still, he can be a liability, having taken the second most minor penalties amongst defencemen last season on the team. However, if the early play is any indication, the penalty kill should improve as time passes and more opportunities arise.
Early Results are Positive
The early results are positive when it comes to Poolman’s first three games with Vancouver. He has not given up the puck in dangerous places on the ice and is tied for the team lead in blocks with six so far. Although the contract length is long at four years, he is showing to be a valuable piece of the blueline early this season.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.