Who's this guy?
Jason John Maxwell Garrison
Weight: 220 lbs.
Born: November 13, 1984 in White Rock, BC
What'd he do?
Garrison finished the season with 8 goals and 14 points. He finished tied for 8th amongst all NHL defencemen in goals, and was on pace to put up 14 in a full campaign with limited power play time. His +18 led all Canucks defencemen, and was 2nd on the team behind Henrik Sedin. Garrison started the season with a revolving door of defensive partners, but eventually settled in beautifully alongside Dan Hamhuis in a shutdown role.
So was he any good?
Garrison's first season as a Canuck was a success by any reasonable measure. I was initially worried when he arrived after netting 16 goals in Florida the season before, fearing that fans would have unrealistic expectations about what to expect from Garrison offensively. As it turned out, Garrison was almost on pace to match that number despite seeing much less power play time than what he was used to in South Beach.
On top of that, Garrison proved to be an effective shutdown defenceman playing on his off-side with Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis has a habit of making other players look good, but Garrison was able to effectively transition to the right side, something that the supposedly-more-gifted Alex Edler couldn't manage.
In underlying numbers Garrison showed very favourably. He played the 2nd toughest minutes on defence after Hamhuis, but still finished 5th on the team in on-ice shot attempts (behind Hamhuis, Burrows, and the Sedins). Basically, he proved he's able to push play into the other team's zone against very good players.
What'd we like?
Unfortunately the thing we like most about Garrison is something we didn't see nearly enough of this season, and through no fault of his own (we'll get to that below).
Here are a couple Garrison highlights. His first goal as a Canuck:
Canucks Vs Avs - Jason Garrison First Goal as a Canuck - 01.30.13 - HD (via CanucksHD)
Probably one of the weirdest Canucks goals of the season:
Canucks at Avs - Jason Garrison 1-0 Goal - 03.24.13 - HD (via CanucksHD)
Another goal against the Avalanche, an absolute blur. Try and spot the puck:
Canucks at Avs - Jason Garrison 3-2 Goal - 04.13.13 - HD (via CanucksHD)
Here's his appearance on CBC's After Hours:
After Hours with Jason Garrison - 03.16.13 - HD (via CanucksHD)
Aside from apparently scoring against the Avalanche, Garrison also showed a propensity to destroy any opposing players who got in the way of his heavy shot, which was a nice bonus.
Cool. So what did we hate?
Ask any fan what their top five complaints about the Canucks coaching staff were this season and "Jason Garrison's usage on the power play" is likely to be near the top. For some reason that no one has quite figured out, Newell Brown and Alain Vigneault appeared completely unwilling to put out Garrison with the Sedins on the top unit. All the logic in the world was there: the Canucks had lost Sami Salo and his big shot over the summer in free agency, so had gone out and acquired Garrison, who probably boasts one of the league's top five hardest point shots. It would make sense to try and incorporate that into a power play unit featuring two of the league's best playmakers, but it never really happened.
A top priority of the new coaching staff next season will be to get the power play back on track, so hopefully they can come up with a way to get the most out of their asset in Garrison.
So what now?
Garrison is signed through the end of the 2017-18 season at a cap hit of 4.6M according to capgeek. His role next season will depend on the plans of the new coach and whether or not a defenceman is traded this summer. Even though he excelled alongside Hamhuis, the best move for the long-term stability of the defence might be to reunite Bieksa on the top unit and slide Garrison back to the left side on the second pairing.