Inconsistent team play, a mid-season coaching change, the struggling third defensive pairing merry-go-round, a late-season injury, and a pandemic pause in play were the story of veteran defender Dan Hamhuis’ 16th season in the NHL. Not much in the 2019-2020 season was easy for Hamhuis. How did he handle it all? Let’s take a look.
Perhaps somewhat lost in the hot mess that was the Predators’ third line defenders shuffle is the fact that Dan Hamhuis is good on defense.
When Hamhuis is on the ice, he limits opponents to 10% less xG/60 than league average. Despite being the second oldest player on this season’s roster, Hamhuis continued to play physical hockey in front of the net (and anywhere else he felt like it...see “Best Moment”).
The third defensive pairing was a problem that was never solved this season, despite former head coach Peter Laviolette and current head coach John Hynes’s efforts to find a solid (they would have settled for decent) combination. With Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Korbinian Holzer, Alexandre Carrier, and Jarred Tinordi in the mix, it is interesting to note Hamhuis’ solid defensive stats.
Oh, but that offense. What offense? Exactly.
2019-2020 was the season that saw Pekka Rinne scoring a goal while Dan Hamhuis couldn’t buy one. Granted, a third defensive pairing isn’t usually known to be the generator of prolific offense, but Hamhuis didn’t find the back of the net even once. He finished the season with a total of 8 points—all assists.
Hamhuis missed one game in December after taking a puck to the face and then missed the final four games before the season suspended in March due to a lower-body injury. While he was cleared for play and present in the bubble in Edmonton, Hamhuis didn’t see any official post-season ice time.
Hamhuis didn’t have a highlight-reel season this year, but an absolutely gorgeous hip check in the January 9th game against the Chicago Blackhawks is definitely worth watching (over and over).
Despite having one year left on his contract, Hamhuis announced his retirement on August 13th. It was a full circle moment as he retires from the franchise that drafted him 12th overall in the 2001 NHL draft. After 1,148 games, Dan Hamhuis hung up his skates and is now looking forward to spending time with his family, and perhaps becoming more involved in the junior hockey scene in British Columbia.
Final Grade: C-
As the great philosopher of our times Dolly Parton once said, “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Anyone on that third pairing merry-go-round of struggle won’t be earning a diamond grade this season, but decent defensive numbers keep Hamhuis from failing.
How would you grade Dan Hamhuis for the 2019-20 season?
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