Jannik Hansen is often the straw that stirs the drink on the Canucks. He’s a wonderful complementary player, who also happens to be the best fit with the Sedins, too.
And yet… The Canucks ought to trade him.
Welcome to the first in what we hope will be a long running series, Armchair GM. This is where we decide what we would do if given the power to be the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.
Hansen came from humble beginnings. A ninth round draft pick in 2004, not much was expected for the young Danish winger.
But through hard work, Hansen has evolved as a player. Once thought of as a career third liner, he’s proving later in his career that he can be an effective player in a top-six forward role as well.
GM Jim Benning has recently stated that he would not ask players to waive their no-trade clause. Hansen has a no-trade clause, although it is limited, meaning that Benning wouldn’t need his permission to trade him, provided a trading partner is on the list of teams Hansen is required to submit.
So, why trade him?
1. The expansion draft
The Canucks will be able to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie at the expansion draft in June, not including players with less than three years of pro hockey experience.
It appears that will leave Vancouver with a decision to make at forward, with Jannik Hansen, Sven Baertschi, and Markus Granlund on the bubble. The Canucks will only be able to protect two of them, meaning they could lose a player they’d hate to see go.
This isn’t an issue unique to the Canucks, as other teams are facing even more difficult decisions, although Vancouver has the advantage of not realistically needing to worry about making the playoffs.
Perhaps it makes sense to move on from the older Hansen, and keeping both Baertschi (24) and Granlund (23), who have more potential.
Hansen is a player that would fit in well on a contender, so you’d think he would have good value.
2. He’s not getting any younger
Hansen will turn 31 in March. For a team that’s rebuilding, you have to wonder where he fits in their future.
If Hansen can be effective into his mid-to-late 30s, then there might be a spot for him. But if, more likely, age treats him like it did Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins, then we should see a decline in his game in the next few seasons.
3. His value is at an all-time high
If Hansen’s value isn’t at an all-time high right now, then it’s close.
He set a career high in goals (22) last season, and nearly matched his career high in points, with 38, as well. This happened despite being limited to 67 games due to injury.
Hansen played for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey in September, where he was a regular contributor.
This season Hansen has missed time because of injury once again, but still has a respectable six points in 14 games.
Hansen is also on a club friendly contract that would be appealing to many teams, with only one more year left after this, at a $2.5 million cap hit.
Hansen is undoubtedly a better player right now than Baertschi or Granlund, but long term is what matters. Hard decisions will need to be made with every player with value on the wrong side of 30, and Hansen is just the beginning.