UFA of the Day: Dan Hamhuis

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Dan Hamhuis

It was only a couple of years ago that Hamhuis was part of the best blue line in the world. Though he didn’t play a ton in Sochi, simply being named to Team Canada’s Olympic squad was a significant feather in his cap.

Ever since, it’s been a tough go for the 33-year-old defenseman. He’s struggled to stay healthy, and his play — like his team’s — has been inconsistent. In 2015-16, he had just three goals and 10 assists in 58 games.

In December, Hamhuis suffered a frightening facial fracture and missed 21 games as a result. When he returned in February, the biggest question was whether he’d be traded at the deadline.

He wasn’t traded, of course. The Dallas Stars made Kris Russell their priority, and Canucks GM Jim Benning was left to explain how Hamhuis was still a Canuck.

Benning has since said that he’d like to re-sign Hamhuis, but not at any cost. After Ben Hutton‘s surprising rookie season, and following the acquisition of Erik Gudbranson, unless Hamhuis is willing to take a fairly considerable hometown discount, the Canucks may feel his cap space could be better spent elsewhere.

So, where could he end up, if not back with the Canucks?

A better first question might be, where would he be willing to go? Hamhuis, a British Columbia native, has become a big part of the community in Vancouver. Though the trade deadline had him and his family considering their options, for the most part he’s been adamant about his desire to stay.

What about the Edmonton Oilers? They need defensemen badly, and Edmonton is about as close as it gets to Vancouver. Perhaps that could be a fit. Unless the Oilers are wary of signing a defenseman that will turn 34 in December. Recall that Andrew Ference was 34 when he signed with them in 2013, and that didn’t turn out so well.

Make no mistake, Hamhuis can still play. In March, when the Canucks were decimated by injuries, he was logging well over 20 minutes a night.

“Pretty tough year, but pretty remarkable story,” coach Willie Desjardins said at the time. “When he was going through the injury and all the breaks, we’re going like, he’s probably done for the year … Since he has come back he has played his best hockey, so not only did he overcome it, he kind of rose above it.”

At the end of the day, there are plenty of teams that would do well to add a player like Hamhuis, at least in the short term. He may not be in the mix to make Team Canada anymore, but provided he can stay healthy, he can still contribute. It all depends where he’s willing to go, how much money he wants (and for how long), and what kind of role he expects to play.

A comparable contract could be the four-year deal that Paul Martin, then 34, signed with the Sharks last summer. Martin’s cap hit is $4.85 million.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

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