Should the Canucks Trade Jannik Hansen?

The Vancouver Canucks don’t have any intention of engaging in a long-term rebuild. They’re going to complete the playoffs, right to the bitter end, year in and year out. It’s just that simple.

So Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s aversion to dealing Jannik Hansen is a none too surprising revelation. Speaking to The Province’s Ben Kuzma, Benning made as much perfectly clear, revealing that the club is “not moving Jannik”. In the context of the Canucks stated goal, his follow up to that comment goes a long way towards explaining why.

“I thought he was excellent for us last year and with the way the game is going with speed and skill, he fits that description perfectly. And we have him under a good (cap) number the next couple of years, so we’re not looking to do anything.”

Benning is, in a vacuum, entirely correct. Hansen is fast, a proven scorer and on the cheap for this season and next. He’s also on the other side of a career year, in which the Danish speedster lit the lamp a career high 22 times. Which is exactly why the Canucks should, if possible, find a way to trade Hansen.

It’s not so much an issue of whether the Canucks can or cannot live with Hansen in their lineup. He makes the team better and relative to his contract (Hansen makes just $2.5-milllion annually) might be among the team’s best bargains. Losing Hansen is a net loss. Let’s get that out of the way.

His contributions aren’t irreplaceable, though. And that’s at the crux of many a hockey decision, Canucks or otherwise. Decision makers are still at a place where they’re driven by what they know — the devil you do, versus the devil you don’t, and so on. The Canucks know, intimately, what Hansen brings to the table. 

But if the Canucks lost Hansen tomorrow to some freak Sami Salo esque summer injury, they could, if pressed, find a comparable player on the open market. The difference lies in the person. What they bring to the Canucks locker room or the innate chemistry that likely belies the players contributions as a whole. 

In Hansen’s case, it’s chemistry with the Sedin twins, in particular. Using Henrik Sedin as a proxy for their line, the Sedins and Hansen have combined for 2.77 GF60 at even strength since the 2010-11 season. That’s the highest such mark among any semi-regular winger the Sedins have skated with over that span.

That’s about the going rate for a steady, competitive first line in today’s NHL.

And if the Canucks had designs on playing Hansen in that role, then bob’s your uncle. There isn’t any reason to part with your $2.5-million first line winger with special teams chops. The Canucks aren’t playing Hansen in that role, though. Not next season, anyways. 

The plan, for now, is to let Loui Eriksson, he of the massive free agent contract valued at $6-million annually into his age 37-season, ride shotgun with the twins and see what happens. That moves Hansen one, hell maybe even two lines down the Canucks’ depth chart.

At that point, Hansen isn’t the middle six winger with an uncanny ability to step into a first line role and draw out the best that the Sedins have to offer. He’s just another middle six winger. That’s just this coming season. In the one that follows, it’s just as likely he’s a bottom six winger.

There’s value in that. Most especially as insurance for Eriksson, whose age and concussion history suggest he’s not a solid bet to make it to 82 games in any given season.

I’m not sure that value is commensurate with what the Canucks could secure for the final two years on Hansen’s contract, though. Especially not in a landscape where players like Andrew Shaw and Lars Eller go for a pair of second-round picks, respectively. 

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It’s not always possible to set the market, but given what we’ve seen this summer, there’s every reason to believe the Canucks can have a part to play. Especially if the going rate for a player of Hansen’s ilk nets draft picks in bunches. Vancouver is already without their fifth and sixth round picks in the 2017 draft and the season hasn’t even started. If the Canucks can poach an extra mid-round pick or two, not having those picks will be much easier to stomach.

Completing these deals is always easier said than done, though. For all we know, the market has indeed run its course and teams are no longer paying a premium for middle six wingers with speed. It’s a distinct possibility and one we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand.

Assuming that’s not the case, though, the Canucks have an opportunity to exploit a market inefficiency for a type of player still available on the open market. They can have their cake and eat it too. If the goal is to get younger while competing for the playoffs, it would serve Vancouver well to hop on every one of those opportunities. 

  • TheRealPB

    The time for the kind of tear-down rebuild that CA and guys like Lambert advocate is long past (even if it’s still not clear to me what evidence exists that one can purposefully tank and be successful). If you were really going to do this with the Canucks you probably do it in 2013-2014 and you still have 3 elite talents in the Sedins and Luongo. Instead because of the disastrous mishandling of the two elite goalies we lucked into we never started to remake the team until after that year.

    If you really want to follow the Toronto model (which again is the only purposeful tank I can think of in the NHL, just sucking like Edmonton doesn’t count) you don’t dump the cost-effective and on-ice-effective players you have, though you might pump-and-dump some trade pickups and PTOs and fringe players like Matthias, Winnik and Polak.

    We are in the midst of a rebuild regardless of what either the Canucks management or pundits say. Our bottom six is very likely composed of 6-7 players who are 24 or younger, while 4 of our top 7 D are the same. That means you have to still give them enough cover and room to grow and make mistakes. Getting their teeth kicked in every night makes little sense; sheltered development is a better idea and the Sedins with Eriksson are in reality a good 2nd line which means you need to have a strong defensive/two-way line to push back or weather the storm a bit. That in my mind is Sutter with Hansen and either Burrows or Dorsett. That would be a very effective shutdown line. I also find it hard to imagine we’d get more than a 3rd or at most a 2nd for him and he’s not going to be as valuable not playing on the Sedin line. I just don’t think it makes sense; he’s cheap, he’s good, and getting rid of him won’t give you enough of a return to justify the transaction.

  • TheRealPB

    Hansen for Kane I don’t think so no way Kane is done and to have his salary on the books is not what we want to gamble with wish him well but don’t need to add a cancer to the room when trying to build a team

  • TheRealPB

    One of the big areas of focus outside of player analytics on CA , has been “asset management”.

    Asset Management is not about consistently going down the roster and see what we can leverage or arbitrage into something better. Because you can argue the case of any player on how you can convert them into better/future assets, even the new player coming in you can run the same exercise.

    You need a team that that has all the elements required to succeed, you need players to fit roles, you need to operate within a confined budget.

    If you want to really look at asset management, you need to take into account $$ as part of the asset evaluation. IE the Total Cost of Ownership.

    I would like to see CA come up with a model that takes into account Player’s on-ice performance AND their Salary(or Cap Hit). Right now the discussion is just subjective, there is no real measurement tool

    • TheRealPB

      The Wild earlier this week waived Jordan Schroeder while the Leafs have done the same with Peter Holland, the first a marginal AHL/NHL tweener we’re all too familiar with, the second a bottom six NHL player. The Leafs, regardless of the arbitrator’s ruling on Corrado will likely expose him since they just signed Carrick to a 2 year one-way contract and Marincin is also above him on the depth chart. I eagerly await CA articles about how the Leafs are mismanaging their assets based on this treatment of Corrado, who I thought I heard the Leafs did such a better job with.

      If we could actually use him (we can’t) I’d like to see the Canucks claim Holland just as a FU to the Leafs from last year.

  • TheRealPB

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  • TheRealPB

    Hansen for Kane. Who cares about bad attitudes, Kane is worth so much more if not for the drama. Like multiple 1st’s. Swap the career 3rd liner who can play with the Sedins like every other 3rd liner they’ve thrown up there for a potential franchise player who’s 6 years younger while you have the chance and be done with it.