Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 2/4/14
A Coup for Gillis and Co. A slew of injuries to the Vancouver Canucks blueline and a less than desirable start to an all-important five game road trip later, and management has already seen enough. In an effort to curb the trend of demoralizing losses and mitigate the recent losses of right-handed defencemen, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev, the Canucks have acquired Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens in return for Dale Weise. From the perspective of both teams, this can be looked at as a trade of problems. Weise was quickly falling out of favour with John Tortorella and his staff, which was leading to increased time in the press box; as for Diaz, he had been a healthy scratch for the better part of a fortnight. Both had become fixtures in the rumour mill of late, making this trade of the expected variety for both parties. So long Dale Weise, we hardly knew ye. With the addition of Diaz, the Canucks now feature two members of the Swiss Mens Olympic hockey team. Could the additions of Roman Josi and Mark Streit be on the horizon? And what about that Reto Berra guy, surely he’s on the trade block… Yeah, probably not, so I’ll just stick to breaking down this trade. So, About This Diaz Guy To quote Canucks Army’s Cam Charron, Diaz’s game “can best be described as ‘unassuming’”. In Montreal, Diaz was used primarily as a third-pairing defenceman, carrying boat-anchor and fringe depth-defenceman Douglas Murray in tow. That said, he’s played more minutes this season with Josh Gorges, but I imagine that trend developed in the earlier parts of the season. Looking at Diaz’s WOWYs (With or Without You) statistics, I couldn’t help but notice he has somewhat of a Tanev like affect on all of his partners. On a team that is hemorrhaging possession, Diaz manages to raise the Corsi% of literally every Canadiens defenceman he is paired with – yes, even Douglas Murray. What could probably be considered the feather in Diaz’s cap however, is that he is surrendering the lowest shots against/20mins of any Habs defenseman (originally pointed out by Cam Charron), while playing in less than favourable deployments. That and the fact that Diaz has four goals in 128 games should quickly dispel the myth of his being a young and budding offense defenseman, of similar irk to Mark Streit (what with the whole being Swiss and all). That’s not to say he’s entirely devoid of offensive ability, but much less so than we’ve probably been led to believe by the media. Traditionally speaking, Diaz’s resume is far from sterling; he’s never been a great possession player and generally speaking is on the wrong side of 50 as far goals for percentage with him on the ice. Also worth noting though, is that Diaz is having somewhat of a career year where his underlying numbers are concerned, but he’s not big, so yeah, didn’t really fit in with Michel Therrien and Marc Bergevin. On Weise’s Departure To say Weise never really fit in with John Tortorella is a bit of an understatement. Their relationship didn’t work in New York and seemingly never improved in Vancouver. As I mentioned earlier, he had been a regular fixture in the rumour mill and I can’t say I’m all that surprised that he was traded. One has to wonder whether Gillis and co. had some serious dirt on Bergevin at this point… If there’s anything we can take away from these earlier parts of the Tortorella era in Vancouver, it’s that he has a serious appreciation for role player’s. Or better yet, players that play within their roles. Whether that stint with the Tilburg Trappers is to blame or not, Weise always struggled with coming to terms with his physical limitations… of which there are many. Weise was an OK fourth liner, but it’s never been a role he relished. Against second-rate talent, and in the most favourable of deployments, Weise was always a possession liability. During Weise’s three years with the Canucks, he never eclipsed the 45% Corsi mark even once. That is kind of bad. What of It? All in all, the Canucks hit this one out of the park. Mike Gillis was able to get a valuable second or third-pairing defenseman, in return for a fringe fourth-liner that was acquired through waivers. Not often deals like that come to fruition. Raphael Diaz won’t be making his debut tonight against the Red Wings, but will join the Canucks tomorrow for their match with the Boston Bruins. And on Thursday, he will get to faceoff against his old team the Montreal Canadiens. Funny how that worked out.
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