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."
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.