The Great Dane
After a one-round mourning period, The Flying V is back to break down the best of a season gone far too soon for the Vancouver Canucks. Given the gracious grieving period, let us begin with some summer optimism.
A number of Vancouver Canucks had a solid season in 2012, and there are several reasons to be happy about the state of Vancouver’s favourite team heading forward.
Of the forwards that flourished throughout the season, the Honey Badger Jannik Hansen had an amazing year.
Hansen put up career numbers during his second consecutive 82-game season with the Canucks this year, registering 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points. After emerging with the Canucks in his first few seasons exclusively as a checker with a frustrating (lack of) finish, the young Dane again demonstrated a heightened nose for the net this year.
Hansen’s continuous progress in the offensive zone even earned him a temporary promotion alongside the Sedin twins on Vancouver’s top line, demonstrating to Canucks’ coaching staff and fans that he can play proficiently at both ends of the ice.
Hansen has taken what he wants when it comes to his role with the Canucks over his first five seasons, consistently earning additional minutes over the years as he continues to improve his game under Head Coach Alain Vigneault.
Jannik Hansen will push his coach for additional ice time in the future, but could eventually come down with Cody Hodgson syndrome, unable to earn ice already locked down by forwards higher on the payroll.
Hansen is signed with the Canucks through the 2013-14, and at a $1.35 million cap hit, the Danish forward appears to be suffering from a skewed exchange rate. That’s just not enough Kroner for the effective, hard working brand of hockey he brings consistently to the Canucks lineup.
While his current contract is that of a young, third of fourth line forward, Hansen is headed towards a hefty pay raise on his next deal.
The key for Hansen heading forward is his dynamic ability to be effective in all three zones. Under Alain Vigneault’s system of constant zone start optimization, Hansen started only 40.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone this year, taking a cut in order to afford the consistent deployment of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and other top scorers.
Despite the raw deal starting a decent percentage of his shifts, the feisty forward managed to finish 46.9% of his time on ice well away from his own net.
On a stat sheet a measly seven percent jump seems miniscule, but that positive margin means puck possession for Vancouver’s offensive zone studs.
So Hot Right Now
At age 26, Jannik Hansen is only approaching his prime as an NHL hockey player, and continues to add elements to his game despite beginning a humble checker.
Affordable (for now), hard working, and ultimately effective, Hansen has what it takes for a lengthy NHL career.
While the Canucks struggled as a whole against the LA Kings during this year’s first round playoff loss, the Honey Badger himself has consistently managed to elevate his game during the playoffs and should continue to shine in Vancouver for the considerable future.