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Numbers Game: Canucks Bolster D With Hamhuis

Scott Cullen
7/2/2010 3:41:37 PM
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Vancouver decided that their defence was an area that needed improvement and, coupled with the trade for Keith Ballard, the signing of Dan Hamhuis ought to accomplish that objective.

Numbers Game looks at the Canucks' long-term commitment to Hamhuis.

The Canucks Get: D Dan Hamhuis.

Hamhuis, 27, was one of the hottest names on the free agent market, which says something about the calibre of free agents available.

That's not to suggest that Hamhuis isn't a quality defenceman, because he definitely is, but he doesn't stand out in any one respect.  Rather, he can do a little bit of everything well.

Durability has been a strong suit of Hamhuis' game, as he's missed a total of nine games in six NHL seasons, scoring between 20 and 27 points in five of those six seasons, registering a career-high of 38 in 2005-2006.

Overshadowed by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nasvhille, Hamhuis has played between 21 and 23 minutes per game every season, consistently ranking among the team leaders in hits and blocked shots.  His totals in those categories aren't off-the-charts, but fit well in his profile of being able to do a little bit of everything.

In Vancouver, Hamhuis figures to step into a top-four role on a very deep defence corps; perhaps deep enough now that Kevin Bieksa, Shane O'Brien or Andrew Alberts could be deemed expendable. 

In addition, Hamhuis should see more time on the power play with the Canucks (he played 25 seconds per game on the PP with Nashville last season), even if he's part of the second unit which, combined with a more offensively-skilled team, will give Hamhuis an opportunity to produce more points than he has typically in Nashville.

With Hamhuis leaving, the Predators will have some openings on their blueline, creating more opportunity for young blueliner Cody Franson or a better shot for prospects Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis.

Even if he turned down more lucrative offers to return to his home province, Hamhuis is signed for $27-million over the next six seasons; a reasonable price to pay if he's logging top-four minutes, but potentially troublesome if his play slips, say, in the second half of the deal.

As was the case with the Canucks' trade for Ballard, though, the Canucks are poised to win now and the bottom line is that the addition of Hamhuis gives the Canucks a more well-rounded defence corps, which should position them among the contenders going into the 2010-2011 season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.

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