At his press conference last Monday, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan iterated that he wanted to add some depth to the blueline after the team’s defensive corps struggled in the Caps’ second round loss to the Pittsburgh penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
One player that the Caps supposedly inquired about at the Trade Deadline was Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent come July 1. NoVa Caps’ George Foussekis is an avid Canucks fan and he feels that Hamhuis would be a great fit for the Caps. The following info is based on George’s evaluation of Hamhuis.
Hamhuis is 33-years old and began his career under Capitals bench boss Bary Trotz in Nashville and developed into a reliable, smooth-skating blueliner who is good in his own zone and a reliable penalty killer. In his career, he has a Corsi For rating of 51.5, meaning his team puts more shots on the opposition’s net when he is on the ice. Although he could be counted on for solid point-production earlier in his career, Hamhuis’ role is now as a stay-at-home defenseman. He would give the Caps some needed experience on a back-end that includes 24-year olds Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov.
Hamhuis also brings much-valued leadership and an ability to play big minutes. In Vancouver, he was a respected locker room presence and was heavily involved in the community; something the Caps are also strongly active in. Hamhuis could provide mentorship to the youngsters in the blueline and relieve the Caps’ big-minute rearguards such as Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen of excessive playing time. At 33, Hamhuis could likely be good for 20-22 minutes per game, close to his career average of 22:27. Hamhuis would also bring size (6’1″, 209 lbs) to the Washington defensive corps.
However, there are two major factors that could be of issue in potential negotiations: Hamhuis’ asking price and location. Hamhuis has spent his entire career in the Westerm Conference (Nashville and Vancouver) and may be unwilling to move his family all the way across the continent. The Caps also have their own possible salary cap roadblocks. With several key restricted free agents to negotiate with, the Caps would need to find room for Hamhuis’ salary, which may be too much for the team to take on. Hamhuis is coming a six-year deal that paid him $4.5 million annually, a number that would be astronomically high for the Caps.
Whether plausible or not, Hamhuis seems to be a perfect fit for the Caps and would give them much-needed depth on the back-end.
**A big thanks to George Foussekis for his insight and help with this article**
By Michael Fleetwood