Hamhuis, a potential trade target, expected to return Saturday

AP
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Whether tomorrow against Columbus or Saturday against Calgary, it will be interesting to see how Dan Hamhuis looks in his return to the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup.

According to coach Willie Desjardins, Hamhuis — who’s been sidelined with facial fractures since Dec. 9 — is more likely to return Saturday.

The reason it will be worth watching is that Hamhuis, 33, is a pending unrestricted free agent. And with the Canucks having fallen out of a playoff position, it’s quite possible they’ll attempt to trade him prior to the Feb. 29 deadline.

Technically, Hamhuis has the right to reject any trade; he doesn’t want to change teams. However, if the Canucks opt not to re-sign him, they may be able to convince him to accept a move to a contender.

Pittsburgh and Washington have been raised as potential destinations for the 2014 Canadian Olympian.

Hamhuis had just four assists in 27 games before being injured. But while the consensus was that he’d lost a step, in his defense, he’d been paired mostly with Matt Bartkowski or Yannick Weber. On a goals-against-per-60 basis, he currently leads all Vancouver blue-liners. He also leads them in Corsi for.

If the Canucks do decide to trade Hamhuis (cap hit $4.5 million), they could point to the first-round draft pick, plus a prospect, the Kings gave Carolina for Andrej Sekera last year.

Related: Hamhuis on re-signing with Canucks: ‘maybe they want me and maybe they don’t’