FREE AGENT PREVIEW: DAN HAMHUIS
Dan Hamhuis, who has spent his career thus far as a Nashville Predator, is a defenseman who just may be the perfect fit for the Los Angeles Kings.
Hamhuis just finished his 6th season in the NHL, and one thing you immediately notice is that since his rookie year in 2003-2004, he has only missed 9 of a possible 492 games. This is not for lack of playing a physical game. On the contrary, Hamhuis can dish out punishment along the boards as well as most anyone in his weight class. At 6’1″, 209lbs, Dan is a middleweight defenseman, but what he may lack in sheer size, he makes up for in hockey smarts. He can read the play coming at him, and, much like Volchenkov makes strong defensive plays at the blueline. His stick work is nothing to sneeze at, but most importantly, Hamhuis can move the puck at high speed.
Throughout the season and particularly in the playoffs, an extra puck moving defenseman was a glaring need for the Kings. Outside of Doughty and Johnson, the Kings don’t have anyone who can skate the puck quickly out of danger and make a lead pass. Scuderi can pass, but isn’t about to set any speed records. Greene has stones in his skates and O’Donnell is lucky his knees held out for the whole season. Drewiske is someone in between Greene and Scuderi in terms of puck movement, but his game is rough and he has a long way to go to regain the favors of coach Murray. The other defensemen who played for the Kings this season, who shall not be named, well… moving right along.
Point being that unless you expect Viatcheslav Voynov or Thomas Hickey to step in next year and eat up middle-pairing minutes, the Kings absolutely must get someone this off-season to fill the void next to Jack Johnson and on the 2nd powerplay unit. Now as Bobby mentioned in regards to Volchenkov, the Kings do need another stay at home guy, which is why many Kings’ fans find Hamhuis to be such an attractive option. He fills two needs in a single frame.
While Hamhuis is not going to be scoring many goals, (his career best is 7, set twice in his first two NHL seasons), he can put up moderate points. His shot is nothing to rave about, but his mobility and passing have netted him 129 assists in his 483 game career. Not bad for a dude who makes his living sending opposing forwards to the chiropractor.
Hamhuis also brings a moderate amount of playoff experience. In 28 playoff outings, Hamhuis has 1 goal, 8 assists and 18 penalty minutes. His combined minus-12 in the post season isn’t very thrilling, but then again there is a reason Nashville never gets out of the first round and it has nothing to do with Dan Hamhuis.
The final question, as always, becomes the contract. What is he looking for? Certainly he will receive a generous raise above the $2.5 million he made this last season. It is doubtful he seeks as much as Volchenkov, but the typically out of control spending in the UFA market could easily net him close to $4 million if he signs long term. Either way, prevailing logic is that he will price himself out of Nashville’s self-imposed budget and hit the market looking for a new team.
At just 26 years old, Hamhuis fits right into the Kings’ core group making it reasonable enough to offer him a deal similar to Scuderi’s. A defenseman who can play in all situations, is in his prime, has a mean streak and is used to playing for a coach who is stringent on work ethic and system, is just what this Kings’ team needs to make their defensive core among the best in the league.
Sign me up. Or sign him up. You get the idea.