With 15 points in 28 games, Jannik Hansen is off to a great start this season. A usual fixture on the Canucks third line this season and last, Hansen has also received some time playing time on the Canucks’ top two lines. Hansen has been pegged as a solid third line winger, with the ability to contribute a bit of offence and kill penalties. But what if Hansen is capable of more than this?
Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how Jannik Hansen was the Rodney Dangerfield of the Canucks (because he gets no respect). At that time, he was playing on the fourth line and getting sat in the press box occasionally, despite impressive numbers in limited action. Now it’s time for Hansen to take another step.
Hansen was 9th in points among Canucks forwards last season, but he received little to no power play time the entire season. If we dig a little deeper, we find that Hansen had only 3 fewer points than Mikael Samuelsson and 4 fewer points than Mason Raymond at even strength. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows were the only Canucks forwards that had more even strength points than Jannik Hansen in last season’s playoffs. This year, Hansen is putting up amazing numbers at even strength. He has 14 points at even strength, putting him behind only Daniel Sedin (18 points) and Henrik Sedin (17 points).
If Hansen received the kind of ice time with quality linemates that Mason Raymond has had, I think he would have more impressive numbers. Hansen would also have a more impressive resume if he got a chance on the power play.
Hansen’s game probably doesn’t lend itself to being effective on the power play, but that doesn’t mean he should be automatically relegated to the Canucks third line. The Canucks want a gritty third line, but wouldn’t a grittier second line make sense also? Ryan Kesler’s line has often been nicknamed the Helicopter Line (because it has no wings), but maybe Hansen is just what his line needs. Hansen can provide a lot of grit and determination and could probably bring a lot of what Alex Burrows brings to the first line.
When David Booth, Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond are all healthy, it likely means that Jannik Hansen will get automatically shifted to the Canucks’ third line, but maybe that shouldn’t be so automatic. What if what Ryan Kesler needs is not another finisher on his line, but someone who can dig up loose pucks and create space for his linemates? At age 25, perhaps now is the time that Hansen gets his chance to be bigger contributor.