As we approach the 2011/2012 season, here now is a preview piece on Canucks defenseman, Dan Hamhuis.
What we remember:
A native of Smithers, BC, Dan Hamhuis gave up $6.5 million per year from the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators to sign with the hometown Canucks. It didn’t take long before he endeared himself to Canucks fans.
Hamhuis’ effect on the Canucks’ defense corps was undeniable. He was a calming influence on Kevin Bieksa, and together, they formed the team’s top shutdown duo. While not known for his offensive skills, he showed good mobility with the puck and put up 23 points in 64 games, the 0.36 points per game average his highest since scoring 38 points in 82 games (0.46 points per game) for the Nashville Predators in 2005/2006. In fact, the trickle-down effect from his injury in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was obvious; the Canucks’ defense wasn’t quite as fluid or as together after he left.
What we expect:
The hope is 2010/2011 was an aberration injury-wise and that Hamhius can return to playing a full, healthy season again. In 6 previous seasons with the Predators, he missed a grand total of 9 games due to injury. In his first season as a Canuck, he missed 18 regular season games and another 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Especially now that Christian Ehrhoff – and his 24 minutes TOI/game – has gone to Buffalo, the Canucks will expect Hamhuis to eat up some of those minutes.
After undergoing sports hernia surgery in the off-season, Hamhuis is optimistic that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. How soon he gets back to form is another question all together.
He said it:
“We’ve talked about that already. If you look back to last season, you see all the hard work it took to get to the playoffs. We don’t get a free pass to get back there. It starts now in training camp, getting ready for exhibition games. And then in exhibitions, we get ready for the season. We can’t look by those as just boring regular-season games. It takes a lot of work to get to the Stanley Cup finals and we want to get back there.”