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.
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.
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.