What happened to Jannik Hansen?

Along with the overall disaster that was the Canucks’ 2013-14 season, many of the tales of individual disaster have been well-covered. Alex Edler is squarely in the spotlight thanks to his eye-catching league-worst plus/minus, the Sedins’ fall to 40-points forwards has been well-documented, and Alex Burrows’ unexpected goalless slump was one of the biggest stories of the season.

Lost a little in the hubbub was Jannik Hansen. That’s not unusual for the Dane, as he usually flies a little under the radar, winning the Fred J. Hume award as the Canucks’ unsung hero twice in the last three years. This season, however, he was unsung for a legitimate reason: there was nothing to sing about.

Coming off his career best season in points-per-game, a year in which he finished third on the team in points behind the Sedins, Hansen appeared poised to continue his upward progression. He was projected to score 40+ points.

It didn’t happen. Hansen managed 20 points in what was easily his worst season in terms of points per 60 minutes played. Last season, Hansen averaged 2.32 points/60 minutes at 5-on-5, the best rate of his career and a nice progression from his 1.96 points/60 the previous year. This year, he dropped to less than half that, scoring just 1.11 points/60 minutes.

How did he fall so far? Hansen went from being a key member of the core whose versatility meant he would always have a role to play on the team to being a square peg in a number of round holes, never quite fitting in the top-six and being one of far too many third-line forwards.

At the end last season, Hansen seemed indispensable. A year later, I’ve even seen talk that the Canucks should consider trading him before his limited no-trade-clause kicks in with his new contract on July 1st.

That would be a mistake. Here’s the thing: Hansen’s season wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed to be.

Like Edler, Hansen had a career-low on-ice shooting percentage this season; it’s just that Hansen’s wasn’t as brutally low as Edler’s so his numbers didn’t tank quite as much. The Canucks’ shooting percentage with Hansen on the ice was 6.25%, well below last season’s 10.78%. His individual shooting percentage, however, remained largely the same, from 10.1% to 9.8%.

Hansen’s shot-rate did drop, however. He averaged 2.11 shots per game last season, dropping to 1.58 per game this season. To be fair, that’s partly explained by a drop in power play ice time, but it’s why he scored fewer goals this season despite playing 24 fewer games.

The biggest drop in his points was assists, though, which was previously a strength of his game. His 9 assists this season is the second lowest of his career, ahead of just his sophomore season in which he played just 47 games with the Canucks. That can be explained by his on-ice shooting percentage, which was one of the lowest on the team.

Many of the Canucks saw uncharacteristically low on-ice shooting percentages this season, to the point that it seems more systemic than something that can be pinned on individual performance or bad luck.

Part of the problem may also have been a confusion about his role. When he was on the Sedin line, he looked remarkably out of place, like he was trying to be someone he was not. In addition, he barely played on the penalty kill, partly due to the Sedins taking up those minutes. What was previously his identity as a speedy, defensive winger with offensive upside was compromised. He tried to be an Alex Burrows clone for the Sedins and a distributor for Ryan Kesler, instead of playing the same game he had always played.

Overall, however, Hansen still got the same puck possession results he always did. His Corsi% was 51.8%, better, in fact, than in previous seasons. He did this while starting more often in the defensive zone than last season and facing tougher competition than last season.

By these statistics, it seems likely that Hansen could see a bounce back season next year, assuming that any systemic issues that are driving down shooting percentages are adjusted, and assuming that is part of the problem. While he shouldn’t be relied upon to be a second line winger next season, there’s no reason why he can’t return to being a reliable third-line winger who can chip in offence as needed.

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13 comments

  1. peanuflower
    April 25, 2014

    Too many Canucks had uncharacteristically poor seasons for it to be an anomalous situation. I can see one or two of the team maybe, but there are just too many. So does Linden keep Torts and move towards his “Boston Model” (OMG PLEASE NO) and get rid of Edler, Sedins, Burrows, Hansen — anyone who clearly couldn’t play his style, or does Torts go. My Uncle Jim says Torts goes. That’s Jim Robson to y’all.

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  2. Char Richo
    April 25, 2014

    It seemed to me that he came back from his shoulder injury a lot faster than projected, and then some time after that there were rumours about a Canuck that was playing through an injury that would require off season surgery. I kind of assumed it was Hansen. That would probably affect his shooting percentage, no? Obviously, though, we haven’t heard anything about it since the season ended, and he’s going to the Worlds, so maybe his shoulder was not an issue?

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  3. John in Marpole
    April 25, 2014

    Not sure why one wouldn’t want to follow the current Bruin model, they’re on the way to their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 seasons. As Tortorella accurately stated, it’s time to get over 2011. It really is time for people here to do that.

    Not that he’ll be here to run that version of the Canucks, Uncle Jim is, as usual, correct. Torts is toast.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 25, 2014

      There’s nothing wrong with adopting the Boston model, as long as there’s a proper understanding of what the Boston model actually is and not just getting size for the sake of size and placing too much importance on enforcers.

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      • ikillchicken
        April 25, 2014

        Okay, but does the Boston model involve endless dump ins? (No, really, I’m asking. I don’t really see Boston play that much.) If the Boston model, even properly understood, is a lot like the LA model then I just don’t see how that is gonna work for us. The personnel we have just aren’t suited to it. Unless we’re talking about getting rid of the Sedins and doing a major rebuild, which is gonna be impossible since they just re-signed, then I don’t see how any model that isn’t an uptempo, puck possession game will work for us. If that’s what you mean by “the Boston model” then fine. Boston certainly has no trouble scoring goals. But otherwise I don’t see it working for us.

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      • shoes
        April 26, 2014

        Boston is a very good team. They have some superstars…Campbell, Chara, Campbell, Bergeron, Iginla…….

        *note ….Campbell twice is not a typo.

        Hansen got “Tortted” this year. How can any reasonable thinking fan think otherwise when 30 guys all forget how to play hockey and the only change is the 3 muscatels behind the bench.

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      • peanutflower
        April 30, 2014

        And what exactly is the “Boston model” anyway. please explain.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 30, 2014

          Strong drafting, with an emphasis on size combined with skill, never size on its own. If they can’t have size, they prioritize skill, as seen in Brad Marchand and Torey Krug. They get strong contributions from drafted youth, augmented by veteran star players nearing the end of their careers — Jarome Iginla this season, Jaromir Jagr last season.

          The foundation of the team is strong defending and goaltending, with Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron leading the way. To that they add skilled depth, with an emphasis on players that can both fill a role (penalty killing, checking, etc.), while also providing scoring. To that end, Loui Eriksson, who was a near point-per-game player with the Stars, has played mainly on the third line.

          They spend their capspace prudently. They’re willing to spend on their star players, locking them down for $6-7 million with long term contracts, while avoiding over-spending on bottom-six forwards and depth defencemen.

          At least, that’s how I see the basics of how they’ve built their team.

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  4. gnar
    April 25, 2014

    Trade Hansen.

    I love his hustle, but he’s not built for the Western Conference. With due respect to the numbers here, it’s the intangibles that sway my opinion.

    His occasional (frequent) frozen hands are frustrating, but more importantly, he’s a milk drinker. Big time.

    On a positive note, I had a chat with a scout recently regarding Dane Fox. He’s been real good in the playoffs, playing real hard.

    Takeaway message: looking increasingly like a real solid prospect with real good upside. Could push real hard for a roster spot next season.

    Whiskey drinker, no doubt.

    Put that on your third line and smoke it.

    (props to Botch for spacin’ inspirado)

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    • ZeroTenacity
      April 26, 2014

      “On a positive note, I had a chat with a scout recently regarding Dane Fox. He’s been real good in the playoffs, playing real hard.”

      Is that you Coach AV? Real good to see you.

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  5. G-reg
    April 26, 2014

    On ice shooting % was 10.5% last year (high) and 6.1% (low) this year.

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  6. Tengeresz
    April 26, 2014

    I remember disagreeing with your “Hansen will regress” article from a previous season (two years ago iirc), because I saw Hansen as a player who was still developing, and I expected that to earn him more ice time and lead to a virtuous circle of better development.

    This season I agree with you in every detail.

    Although I had hoped for Hansen to go on a tear and earn himself a spot on the second line, it does seem like he’s a solid third line winger and PK stalwart who can step up in case of injury.

    Nothing wrong with that: a good team needs guys like that. As long as his cap hit is reasonable, he’s a keeper. Higgins-Hansen-Booth-Santorelli-Richardson etc. are the kind of guys that you need to populate your middle six so that you can afford some superstars and take a chance on some youngsters with high end potential.

    I also have the sneaking suspicion that every one of the comments about a general drop-off in team production being systemic is true, but incomplete. Luck does have something to do with it, and so does chemistry.

    I am interested in the fancy-stats, but in the end the standings and the eye-test are valid considerations too. Missing the playoffs is a huge wake-up call, and to my eyes the Canucks looked tired and beat up most of the season. The systemic problem could be the Torts system; or it could be age, wear, and tear on the core; or something else (or it could be a combination).

    Let’s hope that Hansen regresses (up) and so does the rest of the team.

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  7. Stewart Brady
    April 28, 2014

    The biggest problem has been poor drafting over the past 10 years and some bad trades. Good to replace Gillis and should replace deadwood scouting staff.

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