The Trade Market for Dan Hamhuis

When the Canucks resume their regular season schedule on February 4th, following the completion of the All-Star break, there will be two pairs of games being played in Vancouver for essentially the duration of February and they aren’t mutually exclusive.

On the ice, they’ll have 11 chances to continue their season-long rock fight with their Pacific Division peers. While the Sharks and Ducks appear to have started rounding into a form that’ll eventually distinguish themselves from the pack, there’s still enough wiggle room there for the improbable nature of hockey to throw a monkey wrench into the playoff race. 

Maybe of more interest for our purposes is what’ll happen off the ice during that time, with the February 29th trade deadline looming large. While the Canucks have a couple of impending free agents on their books that could be on the way out in the coming weeks, a particular name that seems to be gaining traction these days is Dan Hamhuis. 

When The Hockey Godfather speaks, you listen. Friend of The Blog Jason Botchford echoed similar sentiments in a radio hit of his own, taking it even a step further by suggesting that the team could potentially be able to retrieve a low first round pick from a contender were a trade to happen.  

There’s a reason to be wary of the endowment effect whenever you’re in the business of evaluating the worth of a local product. While the first round pick may be a little bit of a reach given both the uncertainty regarding how Hamhuis will hold up following a devastating injury like the one he suffered and his impending free agency, history has shown us that serviceable defenseman always fetch a pretty penny around the deadline. 

You don’t have to look far for precedent. Last year we saw the Blues give the Coyotes Maxim Letunov (who’s now over a point-per-game in the NCAA) and a 3rd round pick for a couple months of Zbynek Michalek. Andrej Sekera, Jeff Petry, and Cody Franson – all players who are younger and more effective than what this version of Hamhuis is, but similarly were set to hit the open market – all garnered either a 1st round pick, or in Petry’s case a 2nd and a 5th. The year before Andrew MacDonald got the Islanders a 2nd and a 3rd. 

It’s all about supply and demand more than anything else, really. There generally don’t seem to be enough quality defensemen, who can be relied upon to play 2nd or 3rd pairing minutes without being liabilities in some noticeable way, to go around the league. Only magnifying that around this time of the year is the league’s point structure, with the loser point keeping more teams theoretically in playoff contention than ever before. With more buyers (or at the very least teams that are comfortable standing pat and seeing how things organically unfold) than sellers, the value figures to be there for the rare few that are auctioning off useful parts. 

Which brings us to Hamhuis, who still needs to prove that he can be just that for whichever team he’ll wind up finishing the season with. By the time he makes his return to the ice in a game setting, he’ll have gone through hell and back in recovering from the gruesome injury that put him out of action all the way back on December 9th. He still needs to show that there aren’t any concerning lingering effects. Assuming he’s able to do so, the idea that he’d draw interest doesn’t seem far-fetched. 

While he’s nowhere near what he once was at his peak as a legitimate top-pairing rearguard at this stage of his career, he’s actually looked reasonably effective in the minutes in which Matt Bartkowski’s defensive black hole hasn’t been dragging him down with him. Particularly in terms of his ability to defend his own blue line. When healthy he’s shown no reason to believe he doesn’t have some more hockey left in him, but it’s hard to reconcile the divide between the direction the team appears to be headed in and the one he’s trending towards as a player.

Trading a veteran asset like Hamhuis at the deadline might be a hard pill to swallow for a team that still appears to fancy itself as competitive one despite growing underlying evidence to the contrary. Especially given the difficulty they’ve had patching a usable defense corps together in his absence. But it would also be a prudent one, showing off a certain level of foresight and objective understanding of the position they’re currently in on the league’s food chain.

It would also hardly preclude them from having their cake and eating it too, assuming Hamhuis would be interested in coming back home this summer to finish his career. After all, that’s exactly what the Coyotes did with Michalek, to tie things back to that past example of a general blueprint they could follow if they choose to.

Fans are naturally fixated on the top end of the team’s prospect pipeline, but for the purposes of the people in the front office itself, tending to the depth beyond just those first couple names in the system should be equally as important of a mandate. The Canucks should be in the asset collection business by any means necessary, whether that means accruing young players or stocking up on draft picks. This is one of those opportunities that’s fortuitously presented itself for them to do just that. 

  • Cageyvet

    There is no doubt we need Hamhuis healthy, playing him improves our D, but trading him could help set the stage for the future.

    I’m in favour of at the very least, shopping him aggressively. The same way we overvalue players, name brand players can tend to be overvalued by distant GM’s and scouts who haven’t witnessed the gaffes that are creeping into his game.

    He’s not part of my core in 3 or 4 years, and that should be the prevailing mindset with the entire roster. Plan around them or move them. This defense is far too weak to let him go easily, but if you can get a strong deal, I would move him.

  • Charlie Allnut

    Getting traded to a contender will be a nice change for Dan, hopefully he plays well. I can’t see him being so offended that he wouldn’t sign back in Vancouver if the price is right.

  • Spiel

    Hamhuis has a full NTC. Was that mentioned in the article? That is the largest obstacle to a trade.

    Assuming Hamhuis is willing to waive it, I would think a team like the Washington Captials are a great fit. Hamhuis played for Barry Trotz in Nashville, and the Caps need a left shot d-man with Orpik out. Hamhuis could actually fit under the salary cap right now for Washington since they could get the cap relief for Orpik. Makes sense as a destination where Hamhuis would go if he wants to win this year.

    Washington still have their 1st and 2nd round picks to offer if the Canucks want picks. As for prospects instead of picks, how about Madison Bowey, the Caps 2nd round pick from 2013 who just turned pro after a standout junior career in Kelowna?

    • Spiel

      That’s an absolute dream scenario, and really not that unreasonable if Washington wanted him that badly. They have Carlson and Niskanen signed to big deals on the right side, where’s Bowey going to fit?

      Rather than load up for draft picks that’s a result I’d love to see, or a Vrbata to NYI for Mayfield sort of situation. We can dream, at any rate.

      Ultimately I’d love him to sign here again, he clearly loves to be home and he’s a fantastic influence on our younger core. He’d be worth his weight in gold.

      We’re going to speculate like crazy until this gets resolved at the deadline.

    • TrueBlue

      If we could get Bowey for Hamhuis, I’d drive Hammer to the airport, check his bags, and buy a ticket so I could serve as his personal valet during the flight.

  • argoleas

    Our lack of depth on D is a pressing concern so keep Hammer. Re-sign him to a cap friendly deal and have him work with our prospects as mentor. I think he is well suited to this role, more so than any of our other guys. Pedan, Tryamkin, Neill, and Subban will make the big show sooner or later and Hamhuis could be the senior voice to settle things down. Hammer has a great resume and is a quality guy. The return would have to be great to let him go.

    Trade Vrbata and Prust. Our prospect pool is much deeper up front and both players could be easier replaced.

    We would benefit from picks and prospects for the future and retain a mentor at the same time. Also, $7.5M would be available to sign a UFA.

    • Andy

      Exactly this. I have a hard time imagining that Hamhuis could garner that kind of return without being able to shake off the rust and recover from the injury. He has much more to offer in terms of mentoring the d-corps anyway — we have nothing like the Sedins as role models at the back end (Edler is essentially a statue, Tanev has some kind of Brent Burns minus the offense thing going on, Sbisa Sbisas better than anyone else, and the less said about Bartkowski the better). Unless we actually brought in a mentor type (as Florida did with Mitchell and Campbell for Eklbad, Kulikov and Gudbrandson) not sure we would get enough back for Hamhuis (I highly doubt a 1st — maybe a low second or a third?). I still think the best return we can get is for Vrbata. What can you get for Prust now? A sixth or seventh? Though how Benning managed to get Etem out of NYR for Jensen and the low pick I’m still shaking my head at.

      • Andy

        Important side question – who are we bringing up that needs immediate, impactful mentoring that only Hamhuis can provide? Barts is old enough to be set in his ways, Sbisa is being mentored by Hutton sometimes (on the ice anyways), Biega and Fedun are 27. That leaves Pedan, who will most likely be yoyoing up and down the AHL due to Biega’s stay.

        We can survive the rest of the season without him, and giving him a chance to chase a cup can actually increase the odds he resigns, maybe even at a hometown discount.

        • Spiel

          This is a “delicate dance” to quote our team president. Clearly, Hamhuis will have considerable value given the dearth of available options for teams at the trade deadline.

          I think the play is to try and resign Hamhuis before the deadline. If he can’t be signed for next season, trade him. He has value to the Canucks for next year as the team has only 4 NHL defencemen under contract for 2016-17. I’m not sure that both Hutton and Sbisa are ready to be top 4 guys next year. Hamhuis as a UFA would be one the better guys available to fill that role.

          Management has to balance the return they could receive in prospects/picks with the cost of having to replace Hamhuis on the roster for next season. In my view, this season is basically secondary right now when it comes to the Canucks and Hamhuis.

          Also, it is extremely rare for players to sign back with the team that trades them at the deadline. So, if the Canucks and Hamhuis agree to a trade, then that probably means no Hamhuis for next year, and certainly no home town discount on the next contract.

          • Andy

            It’s one in a sample size of many, but Vermette’s trade & re-sign gives us all hope.

            If he wins a cup in a solid 2nd pairing role and feels he’s nearing the end of his career, he strikes me as the most likely to resign in a ‘swan song’ kind of contract.

            While I agree that Hutton and Sbisa may not be ready for 2nd pairing roles, Sbisa’s roster/cap cost is too large – if the team’s paying him that much, they need to play him accordingly. (Whether we should even play/dress/keep him on the team is another discussion), and I think Hutton will be fine as a 3rd pair/occasional 2nd pair player.

            The biggest risk is that Hamhuis re-signs with whoever gets in him a trade, in which he goes off the UFA market.

  • Spiel

    I have a feeling the Canucks will trade Hammer then resign.

    His absence has shown that he still is a quality 2nd pairing Dman that can help young Dmen as they mature. Let’s hope first he comes back healthy

  • CXL

    Boston is on the bubble for the playoffs. (Not a solid lock.)

    They have 2 picks in the first round of the draft, 2 more in the second, and 2 in the fifth.

    If the Hammer was willing, then…

  • CXL

    Furthermore to my post #7. We can’t trade all our veterans away. The leadership on the ice and in the dressing room needs to come from veterans. We don’t want our kids taking over and running the show. Oilers tried this. It doesn’t work. I still think we need a mix of 30% youth, 30% veterans, and 40% players in their prime.

  • argoleas

    Next season? Edler/Tanev, Hutton/Sbisa, free agent/Hamhuis Biega/Pedan. Question becomes do we run with 8 defenseman next year, let Hamhuis go, hope Pedan or Biega clears waivers or not sign a free agent defenseman.

  • Hamhuis > Edler

    Hamhuis should harness his inner Vermette, accept a trade to a Cup favourite, win hockey’s greatest prize, sign back in Vancouver on a team friendly deal in July. if he does this, it makes him the ideal veteran to lead the next generation of blueliners.

    to facilitate this, JB will flip Edler on the draft floor. imagine, if Hamhuis fetches a 1st at the deadline, what will Edler fetch on draft day…

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    also, as this blog is a friend of Botch, read his latest provies for all you need to know about Edler. spoiler alert – ughhhhhhhhhhhh.

    Edler

  • I read on The Score that Dreger says the Canucks are interested in Andrew Ladd, but I believe it would take a high draft pick and really good prospect to make it happen, so it doesn’t make sense to me unless we can trade Vrbata to Winnipeg for them to flip him. Only way it makes any sense for the Canucks to trade for a pending UFA is if they planned to sign him to an extension and didn’t have to give up alot of prospects and picks. What does anybody else think about picking up Ladd who has won a Cup, is a leader, a BC boy, would look great on Sutter or Horvat’s wing. He scores usually around 60 points a season on average. I’d like to have him, and I think his aquisition, and having that time to negotiate an extension would be a plus. But maybe we could sign him in the summer and he’d cost us nothing but money. However we could also lose out to other teams as well. I think he’d be a great mentor for all the kids, helluva lot better than Prust ????.

    • argoleas

      If the Canucks were to offer $6 million to a 30 year old winger, I would rather they got Eriksson to play with the Sedin’s rather than Ladd to play on our 2nd or 3rd line.

      • TrueBlue

        We want our 30 plus players out at deadline, don’t think we should be looking at veteran forwards. If a decent defenseman were to come up that would be different.

        Obviously we keep the Sedin’s, Jannik & maybe Burrows up front, (kind of stuck with Dorsett, which would be okay at 1/2 the price,) but we must move forward. Adding more veterans to the lineup will only hinder the development of the young ones. ie: ice time, leadership roles, situational play & battles for playoff spots etc.

        • OilCanHarry

          This is my first comment on this board just joined. I agree with you that the 30 and above vets should go if not at deadline at draft or over the summer. Like you say keep Sedins Hansen and Burrows. I am okay with Dorsett also a bit pricey but he does bring that energy to every game. And please get Weber a new home somewhere far.

          • OilCanHarry

            Dorsett and Prust are both awful. They used to be actual tough guys who could play hockey, and now they’re nothing more than face punchers. Trade them for what you can get…

  • argoleas

    Hamhuis is the second best defensive rearguard on the team and has been an elite d man near his entire career. Unless there is a late first or very early second coming back Dan is needed here on a d corps that is kind of stinky without him.

    Benning keeps finding d men (Pedan,Forsling-Clendenning,Fedun,Sautner) on the cheap and or turns them into assets.

    Benning will acquire a few young d men with elite potential as soon as possible.

    It might be wise to allow this BC boy that returned home (and signed here for less) to wind down his career here.

    Only Tanev holds a defensive candle to Dan and Chris was given the gift of learning by watching Dan play.

  • argoleas

    I would love to see the Yotes way with Yandle/Vermette for Hammer and Vrbata.

    Get solid prospect (Duclair) + 1st round picks, 2nd round pick and try to Hammer resign in summer. To be mentor for Hutton, Neill and other D prospects.

  • argoleas

    What could the Cancuks get if they packaged Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis and ate half of each of their salaries? I would hope a decent prospects or packages of draft picks.

  • TrueBlue

    Please yes… please make this happen. Not having 2 first round draft picks last year after a pair in each of the previous two made me feel so sad and empty…

    Besides, that’s exactly how you retool on the fly, isn’t it??

  • OilCanHarry

    I would be disappointed if the Canucks didn’t move Verbs and Hammer before the deadline to get prospects and/or picks. Let’s not repeat what happened with Matthias and Richardson last year.