Jeff Tambellini, Come Back Soon


My ode to an underrated player.

Much travelled former Canucks player Jeff Tambellini has made the move to Europe. The versatile winger registered 17 points with the Canucks last season which could have been more had he not spent most of the season on Vancouver’s fourth line. Jeff showed glimpses of his ability in limited opportunities in the Canucks top 6 and played well on the top line with the Sedins during Alex Burrow’s shoulder surgery as well as on the second line partnering with Ryan Kesler.

Tambellini, with deep BC roots through his father, Steve (General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers), was delighted at moving from the Islanders to the Canucks at the beginning of last season. Most recognised as a speedy winger with a powerful shot, Jeff scored most of his points in November/December and went through a dry spell at the end of the season and during playoffs, which may have been the cause of the Canucks choosing not to re-sign the 27-year-old.

Jeff has played with three clubs since being picked 27th overall in the 2003 NHL draft. 4 games in Los Angeles, 176 games in New York for the Islanders and 62 with the Canucks. Netting a total of 27 goals and 36 assists.

Tambellini with no contract could certainly be called a missed opportunity for the 30 NHL GM’s. Jeff was unfortunately one of those in-between players, not playing in the NHL on a regular basis but also too good to be a career AHL-er. He lacked the size to play on tough fourth line and was unfortunate that the Canucks had such a strong base of regular players that he was never really given a chance at full minutes after Burrows return.

The next chapter of Tambellini’s career has seen him sign a 3 year deal with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss NLA, the same club his father Steve played for in the 1988/1989 season. As a fan of the Swiss NLA and having grown up in Zürich, I see this as a great move for Tambellini. His speed will be very important for the Lions and the less physical game will suit him well. I for one hope that Tambellini will find his way back to the NHL after his time in Switzerland to prove a point to fans that don’t rate him as a hockey player. I already have my ZSC Lions Tambellini jersey on back order.


Enjoy one of Jeff’s best NHL moments, the hattrick against Buffalo while playing as an Islander.

6 thoughts on “Jeff Tambellini, Come Back Soon”

  1. I miss watching Tamby play. He’s one of my favourite players and a hero to me, he graduated from my current high school and inspires me a lot. The guy’s got talent, and I can’t wait to see him play for the NHL again!

  2. 2 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, this guy is so much better for sure than your avarage AHL-player coming over to Switzerland!! Mark Streit said that Jeff is born to be a Star in the Swiss League and boy is he right! Hey Matt, if you have knowledge of more “AHL material” like that, please let us know!!

  3. Nice article Daniel. I always found Jeff to be an intelligent player and well-spoken. On the ice he had great skills and speed but just a little too small for the NHL game. It’s a shame because he has almost every other NHL tool.

  4. I think comparisons could be made between Grabner and Tambellini. Grabner had his breakthrough, Tambo didn’t. Both were good players but not needed by the Canucks, IMO both would have done better on other teams and both are more useful than Mason Raymond.

  5. “Jeff scored most of his points in November/December and went through a dry spell at the end of the season ”

    That was basically his calling card on every season. When people mention Snow letting Tambi and Bergie (Sean Bergenheim) walk, I say thank god. If those two dead weights were on the Islanders roster, we probably never would have grabbed Grabner off of Waivers.

    Tambi was good playing with the Sedins. There’s lots of players out there who are too good for the AHL but not good enough for the NHL that you could put with the Sedins and they’d look good.

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