Scott Hannan: Opportunity Knocks

It’s fairly clear Calgary’s signing of Scott Hannan on Saturday is a low risk one at the very least.  It’s tough to rip apart signing a blueliner to a one year, $1 million deal on  August 13th; a defender who has played some very important minutes in the past.  But there’s also no doubt Hannan has something to prove coming into Calgary, after waiting as long as he did to sign his new contract.

"I talked to Brent and Jay over the past week," Hannan told me on Saturday.  "I had a talk with them about the team, about the direction, about the commitment, and they wanted to get a feel for me and I think we both kinda realized it was a great fit and a great organization that’s committed and to see where the team went at the end of last year, towards the last half, and I’m happy to be a part of it."

Scott Hannan on Sportsnet Radio FAN 960

You can’t really argue with the fit part.  The Flames are no longer employing the services of Robyn Regehr, after dealing him to Buffalo in June, and it’s left a clear void in two very important ways.  It took away a top four defenceman without any replacement, and it also left a hole in the tough minutes category, minutes Regehr played night in and night out for years prior to the trade.  Hannan has the opportunity to go a long way in filling those voids, and doing so on a very good value contract.

"I’m not going to come in and drastically change my style of play," Hannan said.  "I still feel I have a lot to offer as far as that side of my game and to come in and be able to battle and play hard against top lines is definitely what my goal is to do."

On the Flames side of things, it was pretty much a no-brainer once the opportunity presented itself.  "We can never have too much depth at that position," GM Jay Feaster said when I spoke to him on Saturday.  "If we could get a guy to fill that role and we could get him at the right price that it would make sense for us to do that and to be able to pick up a guy like Scott Hannan who’s played 830 games in the league and more importantly to have him willing to come in and commit to our organization at a cap-friendly number that made this possible for us, we just felt it was too good to pass up and that’s why we pulled the trigger on it."

I know many were surprised to learn Hannan is 32 years old, which is understandable knowing how much NHL hockey he’s played.  He’ll be entering his 13th season in the league, spending most of that time with the San Jose Sharks and gaining most of his notoriety while playing in the Bay area.  He broke into the NHL as a 19 year old, which explains why some may have thought he was a little older than he was.

Even though the general consensus was that Hannan wasn’t very good in Colorado, lets not forget he was consistently given some of the toughest situational play on the team.  Over the last four seasons, Hannan’s offensive zone start averaged 44.2% playing against fairly good opposition on the other side.  While his possession numbers suffered in the process, that’s going to happen to most guys playing the type of minutes he was, especially on some decidedly mediocre Avalanche squads.

Yet, because of the consensus, Hannan is eager to prove some doubters wrong.  "I think I have a lot left in the tank and to be able to play and be at the level I’ve played I feel over the course of my career, you know, to play a lot of games, to play in tough situations and in a lot of battles, you know, I feel I’ve got a lot left in the tank and I look forward to proving that this year."

If Hannan is indeed a reclamation project, which isn’t necessarily the case, it’s not like the Flames aren’t used to them.  Both Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison were signed to affordable deals last summer, and both exceeded the expectations you’d have from the contracts they signed.

"I really believe that at the end of this upcoming season we’re going to be talking about Scott in the same context that we talked about a guy like Brendan Morrison," Feaster said.  "We do believe there is still gas left in the tank and that he’s a guy who can play in your top four pairing, he can give you those kind of minutes and he’s a guy who can kill penalties, he’s a guy who will help settle things down on the back end, you know, he’s a stay at home defenceman."

Having a motivated player hoping to prove people wrong is a pretty good piece of a puzzle to begin with.  Having that same player on a very affordable, one year contract makes it even more attractive.  Hannan may very well be a top four defenceman on the Calgary Flames, and that would be very helpful to help bridge the gap between the top and bottom end of the group.  However, maybe things don’t work out; if that’s the case he’s very moveable come the trade deadline, and at worst, he’d be gone at the end of the year.

If Hannan has anything to do with it, those last two options won’t be much of a factor.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I like this deal. Hannan is pretty reliable. He was only -2 last year on a bad Colorado team where he did play against a lot of good players.

    After the Regehr trade he Flames’ defence for next year had the feel of being Scotch-taped together. After this, it feels like it’s duct-taped together. Stronger, and more likely to hold under duress.

    • After the Regehr trade he Flames’ defence for next year had the feel of being Scotch-taped together. After this, it feels like it’s duct-taped together. Stronger, and more likely to hold under duress.

      That’s a good analogy actually; I feel this signing has the potential to bridge the gap between Bouwmeester/Giordano to the rest of the blueline; if Butler can prove to be a top four defenceman, then I feel Calgary might have an actualy top four on their blueline.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I keep thinking of the Minnesota Wild between 2005 – 2008. They made very few changes year to year and dominated for the first 20 games of the year. It would seem that the continuity lead to a familiarity to the squads system and each other. The only problem with this was the giant hole that was created with Regehr’s departure. Hannon is no Regehr, but he is a serviceable top 4 on this team. Maybe this season won’t be as bad, as we thought.

  • This is a very good move. Not that Hannan is the piece that will set us over the top but as it has been said, for the money (and I am assuming that there is not a NMC) it gives the club a low risk/ potential decent upside D.

  • flamesburn89

    Smart move. Glad the organization realized they couldn’t start the season with the defense they had. Seems like the GM might actually know what he’s doing.

  • ALL THE WAY IN

    This is a great signing! Brodie, Carson and the other will have plenty of opportunity throughout the year and next year, but this is exactly the filler we need to ensure a solid blueline. I’m impressed with Feasters ability to sign this guy for so cheap. I thought Hannan was just holding out for a better contract, but I guess he thinks the Flames will be contenders for him to sign for a mill. Atta boy Feaster!

      • ALL THE WAY IN

        I think all the free agents on the Flames have a lot to work for. Not only are they playing for contracts next season, but now they have to compete for roster spots will so many young and cheap players.

        I see a senerio (in my cystal ball) where things can go very wrong. If the Flames make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round, a chance to “cash in” on rental player is lost; or do you deal them at the deadline anyways and hope they all have good seasons so the return is better? We do need to address the quality of talent in our pipeline for the future of the organization. I’m very confused on which direction is best for the Flames right now.

  • RKD

    No one else wanted him, hopefully that motivates him to step it up.

    830 games, he’s got the experience and played in a lot of playoff games.

    Will eat up minutes, maybe pair him with Butler.

    • Vintage Flame

      I don’t think it is that nobody else wanted him. But when Colin White and his 3-million clears waivers and you are Scott Hannan you have to think your chances to get a multi-season 3m per contract are pretty low.

      Then when Colin White signs a 1-million dollar single season contract the writing is on the wall.

      The Flames were able to give Hannan a top 4 opportunity on a club with a decent chance of making the playoffs. There are probably a number of teams that would have inked him to a 1-million dollar contract, but not with both of those criteria also met.

      • Vintage Flame

        Hannan is Robyn Regehr fast forwarded in two years. Questions of age, speed of the game and possibly taking the spot of a young up and coming Dman. When it comes to playoffs, experience, positioning go a long long way. At 1.0 mill I am just giddy over this deal. I know the ones that arent happy about this signing think Brodie & Carson should get the minutes & chance for top 4. But that is just short sighted and not realistic. I for one think either Sarich and or Hannan will be a hot commodity at trade deadline. We will have this year to see which one of these two is going to stay in Calgary & be resigned next year. Either one will make a great tutor for our kids. I would have no problem seeing Hannan in a role of bringing along the Butlers, Brodies, Carsons & so on. Phenomenally priced 5-6 dman & can play 3-4 in a pinch. I wasnt happy about the Regehr return we got but now I look at this as Butler,Byron & Hannan for Regehr, Kotalik & a 2nd with a saving of 4.7 million on the cap. Now this is a little more palatable.

        • I think saying Hannan is a younger Regher is a bit optimistic. I like the signing though.

          As for the kids, I think Sarich rides the bench for 30 or 40 games this season. At the very least he is going to have to earn his ice time.

    • Will eat up minutes, maybe pair him with Butler.

      One of the most important factors here is taking some pressure off Butler, who now doesn’t need to be thrust into a top four role if he’s not ready for it out of training camp.

      • flamesburn89

        But if Butlers not able to play on the top 4, who will be? Sarich? Brodie? I certainly don’t want Babchuk playing against top six forwards. The guy has proven he needs to be sheltered to have any impact at ES. And I’d rather Sarich play on the 5-6 pairing. I also doubt Brodies ability to step right into the NHL and play top 4 minutes. I still think that a huge component of the Flames hopes for the post season depends on Butlers ability to play in the top 4 on the blueline.

      • Vintage Flame

        I agree Pat that this will take a lot of pressure of Butler, but you have to think it also relieves a lot of pressure and well imminent humiliation for Babchuck? At least now the Flames can leave him in the 5-6 pairing and continue to shelter his minutes.

  • BobB

    This is a good signing, and the first move that Feaster has made that leaves me happy.

    It fits within the mid-long term, being the 10th contract expiring next year, and short term certainly fills a hole on the back-end for this year.

    I’m not going to stroke Feaster too much over this, because it’s fairly straight-forward deal with a guy who wasn’t getting snatched up, but hell, he’s here and Jay deserves credit for that.

    I still think we’re weak on the back-end, even with Hannan, but at least it’s less likely to be a disaster.

    And, at least, if we are weak back there, we’ve got a lot of #7 through #10 bodies who can fight for a role on the big club and hopefully that will bring the best six to the table.

    Dammit, I know this doesn’t help anything, but if we only were able to hang on to Erixon and bring this D group + Tim into training camp.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Just like I said in late June: Hannan will not get a big contract AND Regehr was overpaid for the offense he provided. That trade now looks even better when you look at dollars and abilities that changed hands. Well done Feaster. Pay money to offensive guys and get the defensive guys for cheap. I also called Babchuks deal.

    Jeff Lebowski June 29 2011, 09:20AM +1 0 props

    Butler is very young and was put in situations (playoffs) that will only benefit his development. The review of stats, although interesting, are only a snapshot. To me the key point was that later in season when the Sabres were pushing to get into the playoffs his ice time increased and in many cases was above 20:00. When the team needed good play the most they went to him. At 24 that is impressive. In regards to Babchuk: What kind offered would make Feaster a fool? From my perspective he warrants upwards of $2.5M per year. Why? Simply for the offense he provides. You pay for offense, you don’t pay for defense. Offensive ability is the scarcest commodity for any organization to have. Defensive play can be bought for league minimum numbers from combinations of players throughout the season. Babchuk is a 30-35 pt right shooting guy. When you look around at dmen who produce at that level see what they are getting paid. I don’t doubt that Babchuk needs improvement on his defensive skills but in terms of his value to the team, I don’t care. In this era you do not pay for defense. Regehr was simply overpaid for his production/contribution to the Flames offense. I went to a number of games and watched how the Flames came out of the zone. Too many times it was hard off the glass or a rim around the boards. Babchuk was one of the few who would make a good first pass, allow Calgary to attack from the middle of the ice and have the opposition collapse and react to that. Butler and Babchuk will give the Flames the ability to attack off the rush. You can have the best forwards in the league but if they don’t get the puck on their sticks with speed entering the zone you stiffle a lot of skill. The Flames have to show they can attack of the rush through the middle of the ice and dump and chase. They are too predictable otherwise. In short if the combination of Babchuk and Butler make up the $4M that left with Regehr that is a much better allocation of money where offensive puck moving play is rewarded. My guess is a guy like Hannan will not get a big contract. Bieksa got paid for his offense (his potential to produce and his past numbers). These are just example of the trend of paying big only for offensive guys.

  • Vintage Flame

    You Flames fans talk like Butler is your version of Brett LAwire? LOL Really? Who cares that he is young? Pavel Brendl was young once! The question is can he hack it in the top 4 or will he be in the bottom pair? Everything out of Buffalo says he was inconsistent, so maybe a new team might shake him up. I will give you guys credit for the Hannan deal, I was kinda hoping my Canucks would have got him as a depth guy. Oh well, see you guys Sept 22nd!

  • ALL THE WAY IN

    I, like most people, like this move. To be able to sign Hannan at this price, for only a year and no NTC(?), it is worth it. The back-end is still shaky, but at least we got someone capable of playing top 4 min. I see this being our D pairings for this year:

    Hannan-J-Bo
    Gio-Butler/Sarich
    Carson-Butler/Sarich
    Brodie

    If Brodie plays well out of camp he might get a shot a Carson’s spot. With the signing of Hannan it makes the D sound somewhat more NHL capable, (could you imagine a Sarich/Babchuk pairing?? Yikes). Anyway under 40 days till pre-season!

    • Vintage Flame

      Where do you slot Babchuck?.. With his new contract, he will be in the line-up, not in the press box over Carson OR Brodie..

      I think you see Babchuck on the third pairing with Sarich.
      I see the lines looking something like this….

      Hannan – Gio, JBo- Butler, Sarich – Babchuck, Carson or Brodie as the 7th.

      • icedawg_42

        I don’t think we see Sarich with Babchuk that often. Too slow. Both RH shots. And if Sarich ends up on the bottom pairing you might as well put a kid there and keep Sarich as injury support on the bench.

        I think Sarich will start off in the top 4 until Butler or Carson outplay him for the spot. Then I think he finds himself sitting the bench aka Staios.

        I think it starts:

        Bouwmeester-Hannan; Giordano-Sarich; Butler-Babchuk

        I think it turns into:

        Bouwmeester-Hannan; Giordano-Butler; Prospect-Babchuk

        Hannan/Butler could swap depending on chemistry/play.

        • Vintage Flame

          That’s definitely a possibility. I originally had J-Bo with Butler because I think Gio is going to have his hands full this year and as such wouldn’t make for a very good mentor for Butler. J-Bo would be more suited to that role. also J-Bo is a good enough skater, and accustomed to the shut down role, that he might be able to cover for Butler, if caught out of position.

          I think you’ll see the Flames play with a few combinations on the defense, but the key in this deal for me was the ability to not have to put Gio and Bouw on the same pairing [apart from PP], and getting Babchuck out of a top 4 role.

          • Vintage Flame

            Totally agree with that. I really hope Sutter doesn’t try and put Gio and Bouwmeester together. He also needs to keep Babchuk off the top 4. I have said elsewhere but you have:

            Boumeester-X; Giordano-X; X-Babchuk. That is your starting point. Then Sarich, Butler, Hannan, Carson, Prospect, etc can be slotted into one of the Xs.

        • Vintage Flame

          It’s tough to say when you look at slotting. Under no circumstances do you want Babs in the top 4. So who do you demote to continue sheltering Anton?

          Sarich seems like the natural fit, and I think it could be useful IF, and it’s a big IF, Sarich can get back to playing the punishing physical game we saw from him before he got injured.

          If not.. You might see Sutter switch things around and you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hannan play with Babchuck if, he falls too far under water. Unfortunately I think that would take away from the potential you have for Hannan to play the hard minutes.

          I don’t personally see this pairing happen, but then again, you never know when the Flames start shuffling the lines around.

          • icedawg_42

            Sarich isn’t a top 4 guy anymore, personally, at least to start the season im willing to bet we see Butler there. Stuff will doubtless get shuffled around, but I’d be willing to put money that we’ll see Jbo/Hannan, Gio/Butler rounding out the top 4, then Sarich/Babchuck at 5/6 with Carson riding the pine – at least for the first period of the first regular season game.

          • Vintage Flame

            No, he isn’t.. But he is more than Babchuck, and if the Flames hand is forced, it’s going to be Sarchy moving up over Babs. I agree with the concensus on the top four pairings, I was just saying, IF Babs falls too far under water, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Hannan paired with Babs to cover his ass.

            That being said, I still think it’s a BAD idea!
            No doubt in my mind as to the top 4.. Just won’t be surprised if it turns into a 3 ring circus and Sutter breaks out the juggling act.

      • everton fc

        I think you may have nailed the pairings. Brodie won’t be the 7th d-man, though.

        If Sarich is moved, of course… Carson pairs w/Babchuk… and Mikkelson, whomever, sits seventh.

        “If”, of course!

        If Feaster can move Bouwmeester’s contract… I’ll say that’s a tremendous move.

        • Vintage Flame

          I see Carson getting the #7 over Brodie as well, but if Brodie plays his ass off in TC and Carson lacks, then I think with Feaster’s attitude that the “best” plays, then he’ll get his shot.

          I haven’t heard anything about Sarich being moved, but yeah IF that happened, the idea of Carson and Babs scares me a little. You have an inexperienced guy paired with a sheltered exposable guy.. That would have me on the edge of my seat, and not in a good way.

          Feaster isn’t going to move Bouwmeester. His contract is too large for his play last year, and if the Flames could move him, they would have to take a bath on the deal. With Reggie gone, they are going to need J-Bo to play that shut down role in the 1-2 pairing. The Flames don’t have a guy to take that role now. Jay isn’t going anywhere. Nor should he.. IMO

  • icedawg_42

    What’s not to like about this move? Low risk, with a high potential Hannan will overachieve his contract. Giving your youngsters a chance should not be at the expense of your top 4. The bottom 3 or 4 guys should not be on one way contracts here. The only problem with the Flames D core right now is that it’s locked down in the bottom 4. Carson and Babchuck should not be on 1 way contracts.

    like the consensus – I like the top 4 of (in no particular order) JBo, Hannan, Gio and Butler.

    • Vintage Flame

      Not sure you can sign a Dman for 2.5 mill per & expect him to sign a two way contract. I dont think any GM could convince a player to do that at that pay grade. I wasnt thrilled about the resigning of Babchuk, he is basically a power play specialist, but he did improve his play at the end of the year. If he digresses & is strictly a power play specialist, our power play better be top 12 in the league or this was a foolish signing. I truly think if JBO played the offence side of his game his 6.7Mill salary compensates him to do, signing Babchuk would not have been neccessary. But we’ve already cried over that spilt milk, havent we.

      • icedawg_42

        Yeah – im on the same page – my answer to signing Babchuck on a 1 way 2.5 million dollar contract would have been to let him walk – but I see your point.

  • icedawg_42

    Personally, I think Bouwmeester needs a stay at home guy (a-la Reggie or in this case Hannan). Gio can do it all, so pair him up with the ‘lesser’ of the two. That’s my top 4 right there.

    — So I guess what I’m saying is that I agree with SinCity here..

  • Vintage Flame

    Sarich and Babchuk together sounds like a disaster, but with Babs contract, he’s gotta play. Sarich I think starts the season as the #5 d-man and would move up to #4 if Butler can’t handle playing top 4 minutes. Personally, I think Carson would be a better fit with Sarich than Babchuk, but I don’t see the Flames sitting a guy with a brand new 2 year deal at 2.5 per season.

    • Vintage Flame

      That’s the way I see it schevv…
      If Butler can’t cut the top 4, then he moves down and Sarich moves up in depth. Barring injury of course?

      I just hope J-bo, Hannan and Gio stay healthy all year, cause God help us if they don’t.