First the Canucks didn’t get anything for Dan Hamhuis at the trade deadline. Then they let him walk away for nothing in free agency. Then they watched him sign a two-year deal in Dallas with a cap hit of just $3.75 million.
Suffice to say, there are fans in Vancouver who aren’t very happy with how the Hamhuis situation played out. The 33-year-old defenseman wanted to stay. He clearly wouldn’t have cost a fortune to keep. He’s still pretty good, too.
On Tuesday, Canucks president of hockey ops Trevor Linden went on TSN 1040 radio and explained what happened, per Today’s Slapshot.
“I think basically when we made the move for Erik Gudbranson, when we looked at our group – [Alex Edler and Chris Tanev] and Gudbranson – we wanted to go with a younger group,” said Linden. “There’s opportunity there for younger players. We didn’t have the room and the fit wasn’t right.”
The Canucks may have had no choice. As Linden noted, Edler, Tanev and Gudbranson weren’t going anywhere. Neither, of course, was young Ben Hutton. And they signed Philip Larsen to run the power play. And if Nikita Tryamkin is sent to the AHL, he can reportedly opt to go back to Russia. And Andrey Pedan will need to clear waivers next season. And Alex Biega has a two-year, one-way contract.
That’s eight defensemen already, and we haven’t even mentioned Luca Sbisa. If the Canucks were ever going to re-sign Hamhuis, they’d have likely needed to trade Sbisa, who has two years remaining on his contract with a $3.6 million cap hit — which would not be easy to trade.
And so the Canucks, a team that just gave Loui Eriksson a whole pile of money in hopes of making a return to the playoffs, will head into next season with a proven top pairing of Edler and Tanev, but big question marks below. The plan right now is for Hutton, a rookie last season, to form a second pair with Gudbranson. It remains to be seen who will be on the third pair once the regular season gets underway. The best guess is Sbisa with Larsen.
Perhaps it will work out. The veterans will stay healthy, and the youngsters will come through. That’s what the Canucks are banking on.
If not, expect to hear the name Hamhuis a lot, especially if he finds success with the Stars.