To coincide with the NHL‘s game-du-jour, the American’s named their men’s Olympic hockey roster on Wednesday. There were a few surprises here and there (most notably the insane decision to leave Bobby Ryan off the team) and the occasional reminder that NHL general managers are never short of surprises.
I mean, who would’ve guessed people paid millions to evaluate hockey talent would be so high on Jack Johnson?
And in just five days, Canada will release their Men’s Olympic Hockey roster. Surely the brain-trust of Team Canada has a few surprises up their sleeves, and perhaps one of them could involve a certain Vancouver Canucks defenceman.
The defenceman I have in mind, is none other than Dan Hamhuis.
His offensive output leaves much to be desired, but he has quietly been a top pairing defenceman for the Canucks since joining the team via free agency in 2010-11, and has taken yet another step forward in his development under the tutelage of John Tortorella.
But does the under-appreciated d-man have a shot at making Team Canada?
Well, let’s find out…
A Jack of All Trades
What will surely endear Hamhuis to Mike Babcock and his assistants is his versatility. Hamhuis can play in all zones and situations and almost never skips a beat in the transition; although I would generally describe him as a shutdown defenceman.
Another fascinating trait regarding the play of Hamhuis, is his ability to raise the play of the defencemen he’s partnered with – and no, not just along the lines of that silly fan narrative that he “babysits” Kevin Bieksa. There isn’t one Canucks defenceman whose Corsi% doesn’t get considerably better when partnered with Dan Hamhuis – the only exception being Alexander Edler, who has played a whopping 4:59 with Hamhuis this season.
Were his play in his own end not enough to warrant consideration, perhaps his recent emergence on the Canucks power play will. Whether he actually belongs on the power play is another thing entirely, – perhaps another article – but in the mean time he’s averaging the most power play time per 60mins in his entire career, getting about 2:40 a game. He hasn’t looked entirely out of place, but there is no denying that opposing penalty killers have less than no respect for his shot; on the bright side, he moves the puck around quite well. But hey, at the end of the day, the man advantage isn’t foreign to Hamhuis.
What will likely hold Hamhuis back in his bid to wear the red and white has little, if anything, to do with his play. The fact of the matter is that Canada is deeper than ever on the blueline and the competition ahead of him is staggering.
It’s going to take a ton of luck or some very unfortunate injuries for Hamhuis to leapfrog the likes of Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Shea Weber, P.K. Subban, Kris Letang, etc. etc.
So, in all likelihood Hamhuis will be on the outside looking in, but he presents an intriguing case for inclusion on the roster nonetheless.