Canucks Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recent campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Vancouver. Today we feature veteran winger Tanner Pearson.
Position: Left Wing
2021-’22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 68-14-20-34, 30 PIM
Contract Status: Two seasons remaining with a salary cap hit of $3.25-million per.
In what was somewhat of a tumultuous season for the Vancouver Canucks, on and off the ice, Tanner Pearson just seemed to fly under the radar. While JT Miller or Bo Horvat scored timely, dramatic, or even highlight reel goals, or goalie Thatcher Demko was standing on his head at the other end, Pearson went about his business in a workman-like manner and managed to finish a plus-9 on the season. An archaic statistic, but his first time above even in five seasons, which matched his more advanced analytics.
He was essentially above, to well above average. You just didn’t really notice him. It means he did a nice job eliminating chances for his opponents.
Unfortunately for him and the hockey team, he’ll likely remember the season most for suffering an injury on April 7th with ten games remaining, just when the club needed him the most, just when he could have made the biggest difference, just when his experience could have played a part.
Injuries, including his, helped unravel the team’s last minute dash for a playoff spot.
Pearson was just kind of “meh” compared to some of his more dynamic teammates. He reminded me of a ‘Seinfeld’ episode, where the main character Jerry (for the young and/or unexposed) has everything in his life even out. Lose a dollar, find a dollar, win some, lose some, caught somewhere in the middle.
He’s the player VHN wrote about he least.
Pearson was steady. Drew more penalties than he took, stole more pucks than he gave away, doled out plenty of hits yet not an inordinate amount, and finished a bit below ‘expected’ scoring.
He had six multi-point games, all two-pointers, the last one coming in a clutch road victory in Colorado against the Avalanche on March 23rd. Maybe another sign that we would have seen some big moments from him down the stretch drive had it not been lost.
Overall, for a consistent top-6 performer, is half-a-point a game enough? Probably not.
Pearson had a couple of six-game pointless streaks, part of longer nine game goalless streaks.
Again, finishing the season in the trainer’s room was a bummer.
What the future holds
For the price, you bring this veteran champion back — he won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings his rookie season in 2014 — and see where he takes it.
Unless he’s thrown into an important deal or some financial wiggle room becomes desperately necessary, there’s no basic urgency in moving on from Pearson or his reasonable cap hit. If he’s healthy, there is the potential for a re-emergence offensively this season. He had a 45-point campaign for the Vancouver Canucks in 2019-’20.
Vasily Podkolzin, who replaced Pearson on the depth chart when he was hurt at season’s end, could be a threat to slide above him in the line-up permanently, but it doesn’t make him expendable. Recent free agent acquisition Andrey Kuzmenko is another factor. Competition is a good thing.
Developing depth is one of the goals for the franchise, and at Pearson’s cap hit, they can afford to develop it. Podkolzin and Conor Garland showed they can play either side, so versatility is another thing the club might have at its disposal.
Pearson will be 30-years-old when the season starts.