The Vancouver Canucks announced on Thursday that they have signed a one-year contract extension with defenceman Erik Gudbranson. The deal is reportedly worth $3.5 million.
Injury Impacted First Year
Gudbranson is coming off a tumultuous first season with the Canucks in which he accumulated just one goal and six points in 30 games with the Canucks to go along with a minus-14 rating while averaging just over 20 minutes per game.
While it didn’t help that he dealt with some injuries to start the season, Gudbranson didn’t fulfill the expectations of the organization when the landed the 25-year-old defenceman from the Florida Panthers.
Not known for his offence, having notched just 49 points (12 goals and 37 assists) in 339 career regular season games, he has been an impact defender over his short six-year NHL career. While the Canucks didn’t quite get that this season, the extension could be a sign of good faith from the club who might be looking for a bigger year from the six-foot-five defenceman.
On the other side of things, they could be signing the young blueliner in an effort to solidify players to expose come June 17 when all clubs have to have their protected lists in for the Vegas Expansion Draft.
That being said, Canucks GM Jim Benning did have some kind words when talking about the contract extension.
“Erik is a big, strong physical defender who I know feels has a lot to prove and has worked diligently in his injury rehab,” said Benning according to the Canucks site. “He has leadership qualities that will be important for our young team and we are excited to see him healthy and back on the blue line next season.”
Career Quick Hits
Originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in the first round, third overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Gudbranson is a big defenceman that loves to play a physical game. He’s willing to go into the dirty areas in his own zone and use that size to protect the defensive end.
He was traded to the Canucks on May 25, 2016, along with a fifth-round pick in 2016 in a deal that saw the Panthers acquire young forward Jared McCann along with a 2016 second-round pick and fourth-round pick in the same draft.
While his offensive numbers aren’t anything to write home about, he does make a case for being a third overall pick when it comes to his defensive play.
In just six seasons, the 220-pound defenceman has 820 career hits (an average of 2.41 per game) and 388 blocked shots (an average of 1.14 per game).
As Benning mentioned, he’s held a leadership role since coming into the league donning an ‘A’ on his jersey during his five years with the Panthers. While it remains to be see what the Canucks plan to do with the big defenceman, he should play a veteran role as Benning and the club look towards a rebuild in the coming years.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.