Shane O’Brien has accepted his $1.6 million qualifying offer. Pending a trade, the Canucks now have 9 signed, NHL defensemen.
Going to arbitration was never an option for SOB:
“They probably have got a lot of material they can use against me and it probably wouldn’t work too well,” O’Brien joked with reporters. “If a one-year deal is all I’m going to get, I’ll come in and play hard.”
When he has his head on straight, SOB has actually proven to be a solid bottom-pairing defenseman. When the Canucks defense corps got decimated by injuries last season, he played well enough despite logging more minutes than was expected of him. He gave the Canucks a physical presence they needed while cutting back on the stupid penalties from the season before. Off all regular Canucks defensemen, he finished tied with Christian Ehrhoff for the lowest GA/60 minutes.
Give or take a Rick Bowness run-in, he performed admirably good in the postseason, especially when he was forced to take on a top-4 role. He finished the playoffs with the second-best 5-on-5 Corsi rating among Canucks defensemen (only Alex Edler’s was better), and say what you will about the Canucks’ lousy PK in the playoffs, but SOB’s Corsi rating on the PK was best on the team.
Assuming a Bieksa trade, he’ll start the season at no. 6 on the Canucks’ depth chart; but with the inevitable injuries, he’ll likely get opportunities to he move further up the ladder. As Mike Gillis already stated after the season, it’ll be up to SOB to seize them.
“Shane is at that point in his career [when he must decide] whether he wants to do what’s necessary to become a top-five defenceman,” said Gillis.
For SOB, the challenge doesn’t get much clearer than that.
(Note: Stats as per Behind The Net.)