Hamhuis has spoken with 3 teams: ‘I will find a team that values what I do’

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks have told long-tenured defenseman Dan Hamhuis to expect to hit free agency and teams are showing interest in him. The veteran blue liner told Elliotte Friedman in the latest 30 Thoughts column that he’d like to go to a contending team and has spoken to three clubs, while a smattering of others have indicated their interest. 

“I believe I have many good years of hockey left,” Hamhuis told Friedman. “I played in the Olympics two years ago. Last year, there were two major injuries and in the last 10 weeks I played my best hockey in a long time. I’ve got lots of ‘top-4 D’ hockey left in me, and my goal in summer training is to be the best defenceman on my new team. I will find a team that values what I do.”

Hamhuis, 33, remains – in my estimation – a sturdy defensive piece. The extent to which his absence was pronounced when he was dealing with a gruesome facial injury last season was notable. The Canucks were a flawed defensive club anyway, but really began to bleed scoring chances against at an extraordinarily high rate after Dan Boyle’s errant shot caught Hamhuis in the jaw.

Though the veteran defender was off to a shaky start to the campaign, the way Vancouver’s team-level defensive game suffered without him was telling. There’s little doubt in my mind that Hamhuis can still help a team in a supporting role and probably help a team more than a younger player like Kris Russell.

The last time Hamhuis was an unrestricted free agent back in 2010, it seemed as if he were laser focused on coming home. He spurned offers from both the PIttsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers, both of whom acquired his rights in trade, and then left money on the table to sign in Vancouver. He recalled that “circus” in his recent conversation with Friedman and expressed his opinion that the free-agent courting period is a significant upgrade on the old system.

“You’ll remember, my rights were traded twice, to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,” Hamhuis said. “I like the six-day courting period. That’s been nice. I feel everyone makes a better decision, you’re more prepared.”

The Smithers-born veteran defenseman also discussed the way it all went down with Vancouver, insisting that though he received some mixed messages from the club, he isn’t bitter about how it all played out.

“There are a couple of differences,” Hamhuis said. “Right off the hop, Nashville made it clear they weren’t going to pay the money I was going to be getting. They wished me good luck and thanked me for a great nine years. This was a little different. The Canucks mentioned numerous times since last July that we would talk about a contract extension. We were excited about it right up to beginning of June. That’s when we were led to believe an extension was probably not coming. There’s always a chance it could work out, but its pointing towards their priority is a high-profile forward or two.

“I don’t want people to think (that I’m bitter toward Vancouver). I believe all their talk was genuine. This is a fluid business. You’re not sure what the cap is going to be, what trades are out there. Ownership treated us unbelievably well here.”

Even though the Canucks couldn’t put a cherry on top of Hamhuis’ tenure by netting assets for him in a rental-type trade at the 2016 NHL trade deadline – and I have to commend Hamhuis here for the class he showed in dealing with the media in a ravenous market on a daily basis in the lead up to the trade deadline this past season – it should probably be noted that Hamhuis represents, and without too much competition, the best free agent signing in the history of the Canucks franchise. 

Though he played second-pair minutes behind one of the most imposing defensive pairs in recent memory with the Nashville Predators, in Vancouver, Hamhuis was elevated to a key defensive asset. 

In his first Canucks campaign in 2010-11 Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, who were common partners, played fewer overall minutes than Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff in the regular season. The Hamhuis-Bieksa pair was Alain Vigneault’s most common matchup pair though, both in terms of lines and zones, and faced the toughest circumstances and competition among Canucks blue liners. 

In the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Hamhuis finished second only to Bieksa in time on ice per game and his injury in Game 1 of the Finals – a groin injury sustained while fatefully attempting to hip-check Milan Lcuci – effectively left the club without its defensive conscience on the back-end. 

Hamhuis would go on to play top-pair minutes again for the club in 2011-12, during which they captured a second consecutie Presidents’ Trophy, and again in the lockout abbreviated 2013 campaign and again in the John Tortorella season – during which he played with Chris Tanev on a pair that represented one of the few bright spots for a Canucks side that flat-lined toward the end of the year.

Throughout his Canucks tenure, Hamhuis’ defensive partners played better with him than without him. He seemed to tame some of Kevin BIeksa’s riverboat gambler impulses, he mentored Tanev in his first extended stint as a top-of-the-lineup calibre blue liner and – most impressively – he briefly made Yannick Weber look like a credible second-pairing defenseman. And while Hamhuis wasn’t known for his offense, he produced more points over the six-year life of his Canucks contract than all but 49 NHL defensemen did over the same time frame.

With Hamhuis’ Canucks tenure seemingly at an end, the part-owner of the Prince George Cougars will leave the franchise ranked in the top-15 in all-time defenseman scoring. His +78 plus/minus rating also puts him in a three-way tie with Dana Murzyn and Sami Salo for the best such rating by a defenseman in franchise history. 

Read the rest of Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts here.

    • 6 year $27 schmillion contract with no trade clauses, big top 4-d minutes, best medical care around to return from major injuries, and an impact on the community of Vancouver off the ice.

      How do you improve on that management?

        • Correcto, and that is the hand current management was dealt.

          But Hamhuis continued that through his contract till now.

          The no-trade was effective for the player, but hurt the organization with potential deals for sure.

          You cannot get assets for every asset you have. Ask the Rangers about Keith Yandle.

  • If Dan signs for $5 million per elsewhere it will become obvious why he is not being retained.

    However,he has been a very good,if not great, player and ambassador for this team.

    Best of luck to Dan and his family.

  • https://www.capfriendly.com/browse/free-agents/2017/goals/all/all/ufa

    UFAs sorted by goals

    Canucks don’t want to buy anything outside the top 15 there if we want to improve GF. Also prefer younger players to allow growth and future resigning instead of decline and a future hole to fill.

    I’m surprised there’s been little talk around Joe Colborne. I’d be happy if he was our only FA signing, a 2way 26yo 19G/73GP that’s a lot cheaper than Ladd, Backes, Lucic and Okposo

  • One comment: Hamhuis didn’t attempt to hip check Lucic. Hamhuis sent Lucic arse over teakettle. It was a beautiful hip check. Until we all realized that Hamhuis was injured.

    Excellent player, better person.

  • OK so here is our D-Corp set in stone for next season now PK has slipped through the net lol

    Edler-Tanev
    (2nd unit on most other teams)

    Gudbranson-Hutton
    (unknown quantity 3rd unit on most other teams)

    Sbisa-Larsen
    (ouch)

    Tryamkin and Pedan in reserve
    (warming the press box until the ‘heavy’ teams)

    WOW! If you CANNOT SEE that this pathetic lack of depth, offensive upside and PP nouce is a NON PLAYOFF and in fact BASEMENT team in the Western Conference then I’ve got some prime real estate in FORT McMurray i’d like to sell you!

    Good luck Hammer – go to a contender, get your worth and forget this sorry ass franchise pal 🙂

  • Hamius shopping the free market can be seen as a strategy by the Canucks as well. He might get a great offer from Edmonton for money and term, but is that a ‘contending’ team?

    He may get good offers from teams out East but any team close to contending is probably cap crunched as well.

    They could squeeze him in for a season but if he wants money and term, that’s not easy o facilitate. He is still good but he’s also getting older — I don’t think the shopping will be as easy as some expect.

    Maybe Hammy comes back at 4-4 and keeps his family happy.

    And are we going to get something on this Subban for Weber trade??? What the Heck was that???

  • Great and classy player. While I disagree with CA about a lot of the carping on JB’s performance (the draft picks and trades of marginal players and prospects) I completely agree that the situation with the two UFA vets last year was unacceptable. It’s great that Hamhuis is being this classy about it but I think both his and Vrbata’s value should have been elevated considerably prior to the deadline. Yes they had no-movement clauses and yes they both had injuries to deal with but taking Vrbata off the Sedin line and Hamhuis bouncing up and down the pairings did nothing for either victories or their value; arguably they helped player development a little bit as Vrbata was being used to prop up the early struggles of Horvat-Baertschi. But especially in the case of Hamhuis where he had agreed to go and where we should have recouped at least a 3rd round pick and prospect but more likely a 2nd rounder I have zero idea what happened (unless we were being played off against Dallas). Literally anything would have been worth more than a few more weeks of play (or being shut down by injury) from these two vets.

    Regardless I do think at this point it’s best to let him walk — had we not picked up Gudbrandson I’d not think that but in addition to being a steady defensive presence Gudbrandson will provide leadership from the D which we don’t have from Edler or Tanev as good as they are and with the loss of Bieksa and Hamhuis in the past two seasons we desperately need. Good luck to a great individual and a solid player.

  • canucks are stupid deep in defence right now. you have to think benning will try and trade one.

    they have three proven top 4

    edler, tanev, gudbranson

    plus two with definite potential to be there

    hutton, juolevi

    plus one wild card maybe

    tryamkin

    plus maybe half a dozen bottom six guys

    pedan, biega, larsen, sbisa, nillsen …

    • Having three top-4 defencemen and a bunch of bubble guys/question marks is not being deep on defence. Back when the Canucks were good, they had five or six top-4 defencemen (Hamhuis, Bieksa, Edler, Ehrhoff, Salo, and Ballard, and when Salo and Ehrhoff left, they added Garrison and Tanev), plus solid depth guys like Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts. That is defensive depth.

      What the Canucks have now would be passable so long as Edler, Tanev, Gudbranson, and Hutton all stay healthy, but that is almost certainly not going to happen. Juolevi is not playing in the NHL next season, and after that you’ve got a grab-bag of interchangeable mediocrity.

  • Hamhuis painted the Canucks Management into a corner last trade deadline. If he had opened his list of teams he was willing to trade to, and thus gained the Canucks some assets, I bet Benning would have welcomed him back.

    Instead Benning and Linden were left looking like fools at the last trade deadline, and I think that soured them on Hamhuis.

  • I posted several comments regarding Hamhuis over the last few months, and I believe management wanted to keep him. In a salary cap world tough choices have to made. Hockey is a business, and for Dan to stay, Luca would need to moved. Maybe Jim tried to trade him, or he may feel Lucas best is still ahead, therefor a better option. I don’t have the answer to that. So, here we are.

    Wish you all the best Dan.

  • Can’t believe we still have Sbisa and Edler and are letting Hamhuis go. Edler has to be the most overrated player out there. This decision is as smart as letting Bonino go.