With just one month to go until the June 27 NHL draft, now seems like the perfect time to kick-off a new segment looking at some of the key roster decisions facing new Canucks general manager Jim Benning. First up on the chopping block is Jannik Hansen.
Benning was relatively coy in his introductory press conference last week. He didn’t paint himself in a corner by promising bold moves or saying that big changes were on their way. Benning was actually very complimentary to the core of the team, stating that they need to surround them with a better supporting cast.
Now, lets talk about Jannik Hansen.
At his best, Jannik Hansen is an excellent third liner. He is a good penalty killer, has a great work ethic, has exceptional speed and can be counted on to score about 15 goals. That’s the Jannik Hansen we saw until last season.
Hansen, perhaps as much as any Canuck, seemed lost under the guidance of John Tortorella. If you can believe it, Torts actually played Hansen on the power play more than the penalty kill last season. Hansen bounced around between lines and never seemed to find a role with the team.
So what happens with Hansen?
I think Hansen is a better player than he showed last season but his contract scares me. Hansen’s new 4 year deal that pays him $2.5 million per season kicks-in on July 1st. It carries with it a limited no-trade clause.
I’m not talking about fighting, but I’m talking about between the whistles getting in on the forecheck, hitting, playing with a little bit more grit to take some of the heat off the first two lines
That doesn’t sound like Jannik Hansen to me. Hansen will hit, but he isn’t heavy enough to do a lot of damage with his checks. If the Canucks want to get bigger while inserting young players like Nicklas Jensen and Borvat into the lineup, Hansen may be the odd man out. I believe the team needs to get bigger, younger and more skilled on their forward lines. Unfortunately that doesn’t describe Hansen.
The time to trade Jannik Hansen is now. He is a luxury the Canucks simply can’t afford at this point in their rebuild process. Jim Benning can’t afford to be locked into another no-trade clause (even a limited one) with a third line player.
The problem with Hansen isn’t that we know what he is, rather the problem is that we know what he isn’t. I have enjoyed watching Jannik Hansen play in his six seasons in Vancouver but it’s time to move on.