The Canucks just made their best signing of the off-season.
Other NHL teams have raided the Canucks’ backyard over the years, hiring multiple former writers from the analytics-focussed hockey blog CanucksArmy. Josh Weissbock, Cam Lawrence, and Rhys Jessop were hired by the Florida Panthers, as was Thomas Drance, albeit in a public relations, rather than analytics role. Cam Charron and Rob Pettapiece now work for the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Dimitri Filipovic briefly worked for an undisclosed NHL team, before joining first Sportsnet and now ESPN and Yahoo as a hockey analyst and podcaster.
All the while, fans questioned why the Canucks were letting such talented people get sniped from under their noses. That changed Friday, when the Canucks hired CanucksArmy Managing Editor Ryan Biech. He’ll join their analytics department, with the official title of Video Analyst, Hockey Analytics.
Along with managing CanucksArmy, Biech appeared regularly on Sportsnet 650, as well as Sportsnet Canucks broadcasts. He was also a contributor at The Athletic Vancouver and started the subscription-based prospects site NextGen Hockey with Jeremy Davis. Anyone who has read his more in-depth work knows that he was fantastic at combining analytics with more traditional scouting and video work.
Biech has been a go-to source for Canucks fans on social media for Canucks and prospect gifs, as he watched more hockey than anyone else I know. If the Canucks are looking to add more information and data to their prospect and professional scouting, there was no one better in the public sphere than Ryan Biech.
Along with prospects and analytics, Biech was the first person I went to with any questions related to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as he resolved to know it backwards and forwards.
The Canucks, of course, are very familiar with Biech, who has covered prospects for their website as a freelance writer, along with a few other writing assignments. He could also frequently be seen chatting with Jonathan Wall, the Canucks’ Senior Director of Hockey Operations and Analytics, at Canucks practices and games. Now Biech is joining Wall’s department.
Beyond excited to announce that I will be joining the @Canucks in the role of Video Analyst, Hockey Analytics.— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) July 12, 2019
Thankful for the opportunity that Jim Benning and the Hockey Operations team have given me and can't wait to get to work.
The addition of Biech makes for three people working in hockey analytics for the Canucks, along with Wall and Aiden Fox, who was quietly added to the team a few years ago after working for the Canucks on the Brand and Creative side of things as a Project Coordinator.
Jim Benning talked about the Canucks’ analytics department after the signing of Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn in free agency.
“We have a strong analytics department and we have guys that do all that for us and we listen to them,” said Benning. “But with Tyler, it's more than the analytics. It's what he brings to our overall group with his size, his skating, his ability to jump up into play.”
Perhaps with the addition of Biech as a video analyst, he can bridge that “more than the analytics” gap, illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of a player or prospect via video, rather than simply numbers. His ability to communicate as an experienced writer will be a big boon in that kind of role.
"We’re excited that Ryan has joined our team and will provide support to our scouting staff and analytics group,” said Benning in a statement. “We’ll provide more details on his role as well as confirm further additions to our scouting staff in the coming weeks."
From a personal perspective, I couldn’t be more proud of Ryan. I’ve seen firsthand how hard he has worked over the last several years to achieve his goals. He’s long been one of the hardest working people in the Canucks blogosphere and he deserves to have that effort rewarded.
Beyond that, Ryan is one of the nicest people in the business. He was always ready with a ride to the rink, or to grab a specific video clip or gif, or to look up the specific article in the CBA that answered some esoteric contract question. The Canucks got both a good analyst and a good person when they hired Ryan Biech.