Dan Hamhuis (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
The veteran rearguard brings experience and a shutdown portfolio to Dallas, where the Stars have cultivated a nice pipeline of young defensemen. With the offense on turbo-chargers already, Dallas is in a good position to make noise in the playoffs next year.
The Dallas Stars rode an offensive wave to the top slot in the Western Conference this past season and nearly got to the conference final, despite star center Tyler Seguin being on the shelf. Sure, goaltending was an issue, but otherwise things looked good. Now, with the signing of veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the Stars appear to be one step closer to contending for a Stanley Cup.
Hamhuis has signed a two-year deal with Dallas worth $3.75 million per season. That's great value for a guy who can eat minutes and take on a shutdown role for the offensively-inclined squad. The former Vancouver Canuck turns 34 in December, so this may be his last contract of substance, but he should fit in well on a Stars blueline ready to blossom. At the top, you have modern rising star John Klingberg, one of the top offensive threats from the back end in the NHL. Veteran Johnny Oduya has Cup rings from his Chicago days, while there are several youngsters bubbling up from below. This will be a huge tryout season for the towering Jamie Oleksiak, for example, while Esa Lindell is expected to see more action as a rookie. There's also Julius Honka, who is marinating in the minors. So Hamhuis can be a stabilizer, surrounded by fresh legs. He has yet to win a Cup but did play for one in Vancouver back in 2011. With Seguin healthy and Jamie Benn in his prime (not to mention Dallas' other weapons, such as Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp, to name two), the goals will flow easily. Can an Antti Niemi-Kari Lehtonen tandem improve their work in net? That's the big question after Dallas got punked by St. Louis in Game 7 of the second round. But keep in mind it's still only the first day of free agency and Dallas has until the spring trade deadline to make moves if necessary. In the meantime, Hamhuis fills a need right now and at only two years, there is almost zero risk in this signing.
WHAT ADVANCED STATS SAY: Hamhuis doesn’t score very much anymore, but Dallas doesn’t really need anymore of that anyways. What they do need is someone who can drive possession, can get the puck up to their uber-talented forwards and be effective at defending the net. Hamhuis can do both, at a very reasonable price too. He’s no Alex Goligoski or Jason Demers, but he provides a lot more bang for the buck for the Stars. A very solid d-man who has been used heavily on the PK too. A great second pair guy for the team who can log big minutes if he has too.
By Dominik Luszczyszyn