Maybe this isn’t as big news as the Canucks bringing about Zac Dalpe, but the team has re-signed Jannik Hansen, it came out Sunday morning. Many current players are signed for three or more seasons including Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis, not to mention Roberto Luongo. Hansen joins that group with a four-year extension that will take him through the 2017-2018 season, and he was slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
It seems a bit silly to lock down all the pieces to a core that everyone can agree is past its prime, but Hansen is still young and will be signed only through his 31-year-old season. The contract will take Hansen through the last of his scoring prime and keep a versatile scorer and checker on board.
I like this deal and I don’t like this deal. I like this deal because Hansen is a useful player that is perfect for the bottom six. He can slide up into a scoring role and not look like a confused tourist. He’s third in even strength points per 60 minutes in the last two seasons on the club, behind just Henrik and Daniel Sedin. He takes a lot of shots, contributes on scoring plays and introduces the element of speed.
What I don’t really like is the implication that this signing was necessary, and I think this amounts to above market-value for a checking line player. Hansen was very useful and valuable as a third liner in the past because he was working on his cheap restricted free agent-age deals. Now that he’s making real money, it’s a little harder to justify him as a third line option.
Of course, the salary cap will go up next year, and it will go up the year after, and it will go up every year until the end of Hansen’s contract, to the point where a $2.5-million player is a bargain deal. It’s difficult to project because it will take until this summer for us to have a general feeling on where the salary cap will be in the later years of this deal once Hansen turns 30, but I’m sure readers of this blog and people that watch the Canucks often will be happy to be watching Hansen for a few more years.
Plus, he should stay relatively healthy. Hansen hasn’t missed time since the early half of the 2009-2010 season when he missed time with a broken hand, and had a small iron-man streak disrupted when he took a suspension this past season for slashing Marian Hossa. He would have played through three complete seasons in a row at that point, otherwise.
Hansen was a 9th round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He’s scored at a 14-goal, 37-point pace over the last three seasons playing third line minutes, generally, although his role was increased this past season thanks to injuries corrupting the imagined top six. He has produced generally in a defensive role against tough competition.
Next up: Hank n Dank.