Over the last couple of months, as Daniel and Henrik Sedin have gone into slumps (coupled with the NHL’s return to the dead puck era), there has been a lot of scuttlebutt among Canucks fans about who the team’s MVP is. Roberto Luongo has been a popular choice of late (despite the fact that his backup has better numbers). I’ve heard a lot of names, but I haven’t heard a lot of Dan Hamhuis, the real MVP this season.
Hamhuis is rarely named as one of the three stars in a game and he generates few headlines, but he has been the team’s most valuable player this season. Alex Edler got to go to the All-Star Game and Kevin Bieksa is more well known, but Dan Hamhuis is the straw that stirs the drink on the Canucks blueline.
In case you need convincing, consider that Hamhuis leads all Canucks players in plus-minus, at +23. Plus-minus can be a deceiving stat, but not when you play against the other teams’ best players all the time like Hamhuis does. Hamhuis is also way ahead of every other defenceman on the team in plus-minus (Kevin Bieksa is second amongst d-men, at +12). Also consider that Kevin Bieksa looks like star when paired with Hamhuis and looks like a lost puppy without him.
Hamhuis is primarily a shutdown defenceman (he is usually matched up against the other team’s top line and gets more time on the penalty kill than anyone else) but he’s also producing offensively this year. Hamhuis is 5 points shy of his career high and third among Canucks defencemen in points.
Unless you watch Dan Hamhuis play day after day, he is a player that you will likely not notice. But that’s the brilliance of his game. He stops opposing players in a cool, calm manner while making the smart, safe play with the puck. He is the type of player that is taken for granted when he’s in the lineup and sorely missed when he’s out of the lineup. For me, he is the Canucks 2011-12 MVP.