The Trouble With Jannik

Cam Davie
July 23 2010 10:40AM

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 03:  Jannik Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 3, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Canucks defeated the Flyers 3-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Where, oh where will Jannik end up? 3rd line? 4th line? Manitoba? Elsewhere?

After a salary arbitration hearing, Jannik Hansen was awarded a one-year, one-way contract at $825,000. That's great news for a gritty player that has certainly paid his dues with the Canucks.

But there's a problem...

Can the Vancouver Canucks justify keeping a player who will likely play the fourth line and limited minutes at over $800K? That's the trouble with Jannik.

The Canucks have a problem: They have a LOT of players vying for very few spots. In fact, they have 13 players trying out for 5 remaining spots on the bottom 2 lines. By my estimations from capgeek.com, the Canucks have the following players trying for those spots:

Hansen, Hordichuk, Glass, Oreskovich, Rypien, Perrault, Bolduc, Hodgson, Schroeder, Tambellini, Stefan Schneider, Aaron Volpatti, Guillaume Desbiens.

That's a lot of competition, and frankly Jannik Hansen has his work cut out for him. While he may arguably be the most talented, and one of the hardest working members of that bunch, he's also the highest paid. When you are the Canucks and you are concerned about trimming payroll in order to fit under the salary cap, paying a fourth liner over $800K is a tough pill to swallow and hard to justify. And remember, Hansen was tied with Kevin Bieksa for the second-worst plus/minus on the team last season at -5. Only Darcy Hordichuk has a worse plus/minus.

Hansen must play himself onto the third line, otherwise he may see himself on waivers and back down on the farm. If that's the case, the top 3 lines would likely be (assuming Raymond re-signs):

Sedin/Sedin/Burrows
Raymond/Kesler/Samuelsson
Hodgson/Malhotra/Hansen

As much as I like Hansen, I'm not sure I'm sold on that combination as a third line. You have a rookie, a newbie veteran, and borderline NHL'er looking to finally break through. I doubt that this combination gets the Canucks far in the playoffs. Not enough all-out grit, and you would have question the potential offensive output. Sure, Hansen had 3 GWG's last year, but he only had 9 total, Malhotra is not exactly on the team to score goals, and who knows what Hodgson will do offensively next season. There are a lot of "If's" on that line, and the Canucks really do need to find a legit 3rd liner to complete that line.

Does that make Hansen trade bait? For any other team that isn't hemmed up against the cap, Jannik Hansen is actually a pretty attractive player. He works hard, kills penalties and can score a timely goal. If the Canucks can't legitimately get him on the third line, it's too much money to pay a fourth liner to play only 4-6 minutes a game, especially when then Canucks have 12 other guys vying for those same spots, all making less money.

Good luck, Jannik. I like you but it's going to be hard for you to stick around.

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Cam was born in Greater Vancouver, raised in Greater Vancouver, and lives in Greater Vancouver. So, yes, he's from Vancouver. He attended his first Vancouver Canucks game on Dec 26th, 1980 and has bled orange/black/red/blue+green ever since. You can reach him on Twitter @tinfoiltuque or on e-mail at tinfoiltuque(at)gmail(dot)com.
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