This post is part of Canucks Day on PHT…
In Vancouver, they still talk about the injury that Dan Hamhuis suffered in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Would things have ended differently if he hadn’t tried to hip-check Milan Lucic along the boards? How much did losing him for the rest of the series hurt the Canucks’ chances of beating the Bruins?
They’re impossible questions to answer, but the fact they’re still asked underscores the importance of Hamhuis to those good Vancouver teams of a few years ago. The steady two-way defender played a ton for the Canucks, typically getting the toughest assignments. In 2014, he represented Canada and won gold at the Olympics in Sochi. There is no better blue line in the world than Canada’s, and Hamhuis was able to crack it.
But in 2016-17, after six seasons in Vancouver, Hamhuis will play for the Dallas Stars, possibly on their top pairing. He signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Stars on July 1.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are expected to go with a top four of Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, and newly acquired Erik Gudbranson. The best bet for the third pair on opening night is Luca Sbisa and Philip Larsen, though Nikita Tryamkin, Andrey Pedan and Alex Biega are also in the mix.
That’s nine defenseman in all.
Even though Hamhuis had wanted to remain a Canuck, and he clearly wouldn’t have broken the bank to re-sign, he just didn’t fit in the team’s plans going forward.
“There’s opportunity there for younger players. We didn’t have the room and the fit wasn’t right” to keep Hamhuis, explained Canucks president of hockey ops Trevor Linden.
Now, obviously, Hamhuis is not a consideration to make Team Canada anymore. There’s a lot of mileage on his body — 872 NHL games, plus 62 in the playoffs — and his offensive production fell to just three goals and 10 assists in 58 games last season, the lowest point total of his NHL career.
So it’s time to vote:
(Click here if the poll doesn’t show up for you.)