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Canucks Should Pursue Hamhuis



With Willie Mitchell's uncertain status within the Canucks organization, it's imperative the Vancouver Canucks make a play to obtain Dan Hamhuis during Unrestricted Free Agency.

It was an extremely cold January day, back in Quesnel, BC in 2000. A friend of mine from work asked if I wanted to make the trip to Prince George that night to watch the Cougars play the Kamloops Blazers. There was certainly some trepidation on my part; it's a 250 km round trip to the Prince George Multiplex (since renamed CN Centre), and it was to drop to -30 C overnight. But Kelly had a reliable Toyota, so I agreed, and it would be the first of multiple trips that season to watch the Cougars. Oh, and was it ever worth the trip!


Patrick Kane and Dan Hamhuis battle for the puck in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, April 24, 2010 at the United Center

To be frank, the largest draw for myself was watching the newly named captain, Dan Hamhuis play, and by extension, hit. I couldn't recall watching a more skilled, heavy hitting defenseman ever, even during the odd trip to watch the Canucks play. In the final minutes of that game against the Blazers, Dan Hamhuis hit one of their wingers so hard in the corner boards that they had to fix 2 glass panels. His thunderous, and extremely well calculated hits brought 5000 people to their feet. He would score a goal, add an assist and throw 5 huge hits that game, en route to being the games' 1st star. Hamhuis would be a large reason for many future trips up north.


Dan Hamhuis hits pesky David Bolland as his shot is stopped by Pekka Rinne during Game 2 at the United Center (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The following year, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft on June 23rd, Dan Hamhuis would be selected in the first round, 12th overall by the Nashville Predators.


Cody Franson (Salmon Arm, BC) Shea Weber (Sicamous, BC) Dan Hamhuis (Smithers, BC)

Since that time, the Predators have made selecting top tier defenders their trademark, such as Shea Weber, Cody Franson, and Jonathan Blum. Interestingly, a large number come from British Columbia. But nearly a decade has passed since they drafted Hamhuis, and the financial mechanics of the NHL have changed somewhat. Though they will probably give it a good solid go, resigning Hamhuis could be problematic for the Predators. Patric Hornqvist, the aforementioned Franson, and newly acquired (from Oilers) Denis Grebeshkov are all Restricted Free Agents. While Grebeshkov will probably look for a similar amount of money ($3.150 m), Hornqvist and Franson will need to at least double in salary, if not triple, depending on length of contract.

The teams "big 5", Martin Erat, David Legwand, Jason Arnott, Jean-Pierre Dumont and Steve Sullivan command $22 m in total. Arnott and Sullivan are entering the final year of their contracts. That number represents their forward corps, give or take, and their blueline poses even more of a challenge with the addition of Grebeshkov. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter alone combine for an $8 m cap hit, even before the raises for Franson and Grebeshkov are factored in. Oh, and Dan Ellis is now an UFA, so they need to account for a backup goaltender to Pekka Rinne.

Ok, so lots of talk about the Predators, and very little about the Canucks. But it's quite simple, really: Vancouver has needed a strong, hard-hitting defenseman since Mattias Ohlund (man, do I miss him) bolted for Tampa Bay. Don't get me wrong, I really like the direction Edler has been taking, and Shane O'Brien has helped make up for some of the lost grit. But the 6'1, 205 lbs Smithers, BC native would make such a huge difference in the lineup.

He has played many valuable minutes in Nashville, and the workhorse rarely misses a game. He has averaged at least 25 points a season for nearly 10 years. Most importantly, he would represent an insurance policy for the oft-injured defensive core. With Mitchell and Salo both missing significant stretches due to injury, the writing is on the wall: The $2 m Hamhuis averaged over the last 3 years pales in comparison to what he brings to the table. Give him a raise, offer him a solid 4 or 5 years, and make GM Place an even better place to watch a hockey game in 2010/11 and beyond.


Hamhuis continues to be used against other teams' top lines, including the Toews line, with very good results. Could he possibly wear the blue, teal and white? (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images)

With files from TSN, Getty Images (Yahoo Sports) and nhlnumbers.com, I'm Larenzo Jensen reporting for the Canuck Way


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I love the blog Lorenzo ... I am not as experienced watching Hamhuis as you obviously are at the WHL level ... I am not too sure he has been able to manhandle the opposition (who is?) at the NHL level - but he is (1.) a reliable defencemen who has a proven track-record and (2.) a B.C. boy with the physical style the Canucks need to adapt into their game if they hope to see a third round this decade...

He would certainly be on my shopping list - unless his price tag is above $4.5 million per year.


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Dear M31:

I appologize if the blog seemed a little over-stated. Obviously, having seen him play the amount that I did in his junior days, though, I felt obliged to speak to his effectiveness. But, as of today, that little 'dream' of mine to see him play in Vancouver has been dashed. He has been dealt (his exclusive rights) by the Preds to the Philadelphia Flyers, who obviously felt they were very close to putting their names on the hallowed Stanley Cup. I have also just posted a new blog on this, and have addressed the matter of another large Free Agency name that is still available, though who knows how long that will last....

Deanofnucks, thanks for the positive vibes.... I think he would have been an excellent fit in Vancouver too. You're very right, they DO need to adapt their game if they hope to see a 3rd round this decade, please see my most recent posting to find out just how adamant I am that Gillis adapt as well!


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Heh heh, I hope "Dazzle" has had a chance to read this article.... I think it's a very, very positive sign, especially from Gillis, that we got it done with Hamhuis, and long term. I told ya he was rugged, now we just get to set back and check it out.

I'm elated; and not just with this, but adding Manny Malholtra is another small stroke of genius. Bravo, Mike, my hat is off.


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