I—like some casual observers of advanced statistics including those nice colorful graphs that get posted on my timeline—get really fixated on the idea of underrated players that you can determine are very good, before the rest of the hockey world catches up to you. The abhorrent behavior of pointing at some dude and yelling about how you always rated him since he was drafted out of Moose Jaw, is honestly kind of enjoyable. It’s human nature so I will not stop.
That is especially true when it comes to depth defensemen that are just waiting for a bigger role to take the next step. It’s so common to try and figure out why their current head coach isn’t giving them more responsibility and then deciding that your favorite team should acquire him in some trade that will be considered an easy victory once he—of course—pans out.
As soon as St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night, I got a sudden flashback to the other underutilized blueliners that I so desperately wanted the Philadelphia Flyers to acquire. Colin Miller, once a budding analytical star in Vegas has turned sour as a Buffalo Sabre, Travis Dermott, the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman that just has never been able to move out of the bottom pairing or extra skater; the list goes on. I’m sure you no doubt have those defensemen that you looked up once and saw their good numbers and then penciled them into next year’s lineup. Everyone has their own special little guy.
Dunn has to be all of Philadelphia’s right this moment. The left-handed blueliner would essentially come into this role, taken from the horrible streets of St. Louis and brought into the warm embrace of Philadelphia, and it could work out perfectly. It is no secret that the Flyers’ blue line is essentially a pile of rotting question marks surrounding a young French dude and Ivan Provorov.
While Dunn might not be the savior of the position, he would no doubt help create some stability in a lineup that is experiencing some unfortunate injuries. Like, c’mon, just look at this and tell me it doesn’t force you to make the sound of an interested professor looking at some decent above-average paper from a horrible student.
At the age of 24, to have 230 NHL games experience and 84 points to boot, it just makes such a tidy package that every GM should be foaming at the mouth for.
Unfortunately, there is this one glaring consistent error in Dunn’s game that could make him a threat to be yelled about on national television. He has a tendency to get absolutely walked around in one-on-one situations. It’s followed him through his entire career; from when he played for the Niagara IceDogs and then London Knight, Mitch Marner destroyed him with his agility—I told you I would be that weirdo that references watching a player in junior—all the way up to just a few days ago when Los Angeles Kings forward Carl Grundstrom danced around him for a goal.
Carl Grundstrom walks Vince Dunn and snipes his first of the season pic.twitter.com/9QEeaxuKTe— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 25, 2021
Not the greatest!
Even if he has the odd gaff that keeps him in the headlines—God knows that basically every Flyers defenseman is capable of doing so—Dunn can still bring more than enough to take this wretched blue line up to a different level.
Erik Gustafsson was supposed to do that as a low-risk, high-reward type of signing that has turned into essentially a liability whenever he’s on the ice in a Flyers jersey. You never know what is going to come from him and watching him out there with the puck on his stick in his own zone gives me a heart attack. At least with Dunn, even if that same feeling occurs, we can toss it away with “growing” and “development” completely enveloping the entire thing.
As for what it would take to acquire him: I don’t know, talk to someone that knows what the Blues want other than better players to go along with their weird team. Fuck it, send some draft picks and say you’re welcome.