Canucks Army Player Preview: Jannik Hansen

For a quality middle-six forward on a very good contract, Danish-born Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen takes a good deal of flack in the Vancouver market.

Perhaps it’s because he’s coming off of the worst offensive season of his NHL career, or because he’s not seen as gritty enough, or North American enough, or skilled enough. Irrelevant concerns aside, Hansen remains a credible and productive top-nine forward at the NHL level and the type of player who can anchor a very good third forward group.

Read on past the jump.

2013-2014 Performance

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Like virtually all Canucks players not named Chris Higgins or Mike Santorelli many of his teammates, Hansen lost his way in the offensive end of the rink and struggled to produce during the 2013-14 campaign. After getting off to a hot start and briefly flirting with 20 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and scoring at a 17 goal pace during the lockout shortened season, Hansen found the back of the net just 11 times last year and finished with a career worst 20 total points (he had 15 points in 47 games back in 2009-10, but that was before he was an everyday NHL player). 

More troubling than Hansen’s lack of production though is that the Canucks were outscored when he was on the ice at five-on-five, the first time that’s occurred since 2009-10. 

The good news is that Hansen’s offensive issues and his ‘getting outscored’ issue was one in the same, and should prove to be illusory if the percentages normalize (which they surely will). When the Danish checking forward was on the ice at even-strength last season the Canucks managed to convert on just 6.25 percent of their shots, an unsustainably low number that serves to largely explain his lack of offense. 

Meanwhile Canucks goaltenders stopped just .913 percent of shots faced at evens with Hansen on the ice, so it’s pretty likely that his off-year in 2013-14 was largely luck based. That Hansen is poised to bounce back this season seems a safe bet.

*Need help understanding these fancy stats, click here.

2014-2015 Outlook

Obviously Hansen has never been a 20 goal threat, and at 28-years-old, is unlikely to randomly morph into one this upcoming season (though it’s not out of the question with some luck and a more accurate slap shot).

That said, Hansen’s rate stats and underlying numbers have been consistently impressive over the years. For example, among NHL forwards who’ve logged at least 2500 even-strength minutes over the past four years, Hansen ranks 120th in points per 60 minutes of ice-time, making him a more efficient even-strength point producer than more famous guys like Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak, Mike Cammalleri and even Cody Hodgson.

Hansen also remains an under-rated playmaker, and is 57th among NHL forwards (using the same ice-time parameters as above) in primary assist rate over the past four seasons. Even if Hansen doesn’t score more goals this upcoming season, he should be good for 20 assists or so if he plays with anybody who can finish at all.

Offense isn’t Hansen’s calling card though, as you probably well know. It’s on the other side of the puck that he’s a stud, and Hansen actually had the best zone exit success rate among all regular Canucks forwards not named Sedin through the first half of last season. He could be even better if he had a legitimate third-line center to play alongside, but that’s proven illusive in Vancouver since, oh, about March of 2011.

Overall Hansen is a proven, sturdy top-nine forward and is likely to reprise that role again this season.

  • DCR

    One of the only good signing Mike Gillis ever made. Very good depth player if he’s kept in a bottom six role, where he belongs!

    Everything Mike Gillis did the last three years was complete garbage!!

  • DCR

    Not sure that he was NEVER a threat to score 20. There were a couple of years where he was a top 30 RW in terms of scoring rate, and one year he was top 10. A lot of the tools are there. I wouldn’t expect that kind of production at this stage, of course, but if the forward depth is used in a manner such that every line is being asked to score (i.e. Tom Sestito isn’t in the lineup) I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a significant contribution goal-wise.

    • bossram

      He is certainly a top-nine forward. To say he is not is insane. For his career, he’s pretty much produced at a mid-tier 2nd line rate at ES. He’s good for possession.

      The “eye test” tells me he had great speed and is a forechecking demon. It also tells me he has below-average puck skills and finishing, and this is probably why he shouldn’t and people don’t see him as a top-six option.

      However, he gives you fantastic value from the 3rd line. Comparable 3rd liners are garnering cap hits at 3.5+ million now. He and Higgins can give you 2nd line quality ES scoring from a 3rd line as well as defensive value, all for less than market price. And he (and Higgins) can step into the top-six in a pinch. That’s a great package. However, judging by his play, he doesn’t quite have the “tools” to be an everyday top-six player, but he is pretty much the perfect player to have on your 3rd line.

      Like pretty much everyone last year, he had a bad season. According to the majority of Canucks fans, this means that he (and everyone else) objectively suck.

      • Mantastic

        I hope you know what a top 9 forward is. It’s a forward that can be your #1 forward all the way to your #9 forward. If Jannik Hansen is close to being your number 1 forward on the team, you have yourself an awful team. he has ZERO top line ability, so that instantly negates any “top” status in terms of forwards.

        Optimistically, he is a middle 6 winger, realistically he is a bottom 6 winger.

        • bossram

          I think your definition of a top-nine forward is a little out of line with what most people consider a top-nine forward.

          I, and I think most people, consider a top-nine forward to be a player who plays in the….top-nine. A player who is capable of playing on of your top-three lines.

          By your definition of a top-nine forward, only a team’s #1 forward could be considered one. By your definition Higgins is not a top-nine forward because he is incapable of being our #1 forward. By your definition Daniel Sedin and Vrbata are not top-nine forwards because they are incapable of being our #1 forward. Your definition makes no sense. A top-nine forward is a forward who can play in your top-nine.

          And realistically, Hansen is a middle-six winger. That rate stats actually show Hansen produces at a mid-2nd line level at ES. The reason he isn’t perceived to be a top-six forward though (and I agree) is that he doesn’t have the skill or finishing qualities. But his combo of speed, grit, forechecking and ES production puts him in the upper echelon of 3rd line players.

          • Mantastic

            as mentioned in my previous post, i refer to ice time as an indicator for forwards/players ingeneral.

            by my definition daniel and vrbata are top 9 forwards because they can either play the most minutes of any forward or 9th most minutes.

          • bossram

            But any forward “can” play the most or fewest minutes. That’s up to coaching. Should Vrbata or Daniel be playing the most minutes? Probably not.

            Your definition just doesn’t seem to make any sense or have any practicality.

            You could say a top-nine forward is a a forward who ranks among the top-nine forwards in average TOI for that team. That makes sense. There is something tangible there to determine what a top-nine player is: TOI. 9 most played players are top-nine players. But you’re saying a top-nine player is someone who “can” play the most or fewest minutes of the top-nine players. Well anyone “can” do that. The coach determines usage. Should he be using his players that way? We don’t know.

            I feel like your arbitrarily creating a category where Hansen would be unable to fit into your definition of a top-nine forward because you can just say “well, he isn’t good enough to play the most minutes on our team”. But you can say that about almost anyone.

            Bottom-line, Hansen produces enough at ES, had enough defensive, physical and possession value that he is firmly in the realm of “top-nine” forward and is more realistically a fringe top-six player.

    • bossram

      You need to take remedial math. There are 12 forwards. You say he is a guality Bottom 6, and should never be top 6. I assume top 6 are on lines 1 and 2. So bottom 6 is lines 3 and 4. On that rationale, line 3 is top 9 forward. So why is it a stretch to say he is top 9, if he is a quality bottom 6 and normally plays on the third line?

  • bossram

    A lot of people here are doom and gloom about the Canucks moving forward, but almost every player profile begins with ” had a down offensive year.”

    Now we can all believe that it was just age or a really bad fit of coach and team. I choose to believe that the former is true. The evidence is in NY, with the Rangers. Look at how inspired the Rangers players were when the yolk of Torts was taken off their backs. I believe a similar uprising will occur on the West Coast this year.

    Hanson is one of those guys that will be back in form this year and benefit from playing his regular 3rd line not top or second like last year. He may not get 20 goals, but I believe 15 is a reality with a Vey Jensen or Higgins combo