Why is Scott Hannan still a free agent?

In my post about defensive errors, I made a statement saying that he was the Caps second best defensive defenseman last year. He had only 17 goal causing errors in a Caps uniform and saw the most defensive zone draws out of any regular defenseman on the team. He also was one of the best defensemen on the team when it came to shots allowed per game at even strength and their distance. Hannan also proved to be a good influence to the younger defensemen on the team and was a solid partner newcomer Dennis Wideman. However, I made the case that defensive defensemen like Hannan can be signed for a lot cheaper than the $4.5 mil he made last season. The Caps elected to let Hannan walk and signed Roman Hamrlik instead (for $1 mil less than Hannan) to take his place. Here’s a question for you, since Hannan had a good season last year and proved that he can play top-4 minutes on a contending team, why hasn’t anyone else signed him yet?

I’m not sure how much he was asking for but the Caps decision to sign someone who is six years older than Hannan tells me that either Hannan wanted to test the market, he didn’t want to stay in Washington or he wanted too much money. When taking a look at Hannan’s stats on the season, it does reveal why some teams would be leery or signing him but these numbers are not bad at all.

EV

TOI/60 QUALCOMP Corsi Rel QoC CORSI REL GAON/60 SAON/60 Ozone% Fin Ozone%
16.42 -0.014 0.285 -0.9 2.25 26.5 48.8 44.6

PK (4vs5)

TOI/60 SAON/60
2.62 45.5

Hannan put up about average numbers last season at even strength and on the penalty kill and you could clearly do a lot worse than signing him to a multi-year contract, especially if you’re a team with holes on the blue line. He isn’t the shutdown guy that Colorado thought he was but he is definitely serviceable and could really be of use to any team looking for a stay-at-home defenseman. If Andreas Lilja, Mike Commodore, Randy Jones, Kent Huskins and Radek Martinek can be signed to new contracts then I see no reason why at least one team wouldn’t take a chance on Hannan.

Capitals Player Report Card: Scott Hannan

Scott Hannan

Stats: 78 GP, 1 Goal, 10 Assists, 11 Points, +4, 34 PIM
Contract Info: $4,500,000 cap hit, pending UFA
Player Card

Scoring Chance Percentage Rank: 7/29
Defensemen: 2/10
Balanced Corsi: 10/29
Defensemen: 4/10

When the Caps traded for Scott Hannan, fans had a wide range of expectations for him. Some thought that he would be the “big physical shutdown defenseman that we have always needed” while others simply saw him as giving our blue-line more depth, which we needed badly with all of the injuries. I was in the latter camp because I always thought Hannan was a good defensive player, but he’s not Shea Weber (then again, who is?) and the fact that we were able to get him for only Tomas Fleischmann. Hannan certainly fared much better than I thought he would in Washington and proved to be a very durable and reliable defenseman that we needed. However, after taking a closer look at his season, it appears that losing him this off-season may not be as devastating as I thought it would be.

“Solid, steady defenseman” describes Hannan best at this point in his career and that’s just what he was in Washington. You’ll see that he slowly got more even strength ice time as the season went on and led the Caps in ice-time for many games during the middle stretch of the season. Taking a look at his player card, you’ll see that he wasn’t depended on in Washington as much as he was for the Avalanche. He was given less ice time and saw much weaker competition compared to his years in Colorado. but he still logged a lot of minutes on most nights. He also managed to have one of the best scoring chance percentages on the team despite starting over 50% of his draws in the defensive zone, which speaks highly of his ability to prevent opposing chances more than it does to create ones on his own.

Hannan was also one of the few Caps defensemen who were able to stay healthy for most of the year and he became more depended on during the playoffs due to injuries to Mike Green, John Carlson, Dennis Wideman and others but he was able to handle those minutes. He also played well despite lacking a consistent partner for most of the seasons. He was either paired with John Erskine or Jeff Schultz most of the time and neither of those two make an ideal partner but he made due with what he got. In fact, I think Schultz’s play actually in his own zone improved when he was paired with Hannan (still trying to figure out WOWY’s for this season so I can confirm this). I said all season that I would love to have Hannan back next year because our defense corps looks better with him, however if Hannan does leave, our defense corps isn’t crippled.

Taking a look at how he compares to other defensemen on the team in shots allowed per 60 minutes, he ranks about in the middle of the pack. His corsi improved dramatically compared to previous years (probably due to playing for a better team) but if you look at his relative corsi rating, it’s not that impressive. This is mostly because Scott Hannan’s game is very one-dimensional. He’s a solid stay-at-home d-man but not much more than that. He rarely contributes offensively and his stats over his career show that. This isn’t a knock on Hannan’s game at all because he’s not supposed to light up the scoresheet, he’s supposed to be a good defender and that’s what he was this season. I feel that defensive defensemen are very common in the NHL and can be signed for a lot less than Hannan made this year, which is why I believe the Caps losing him isn’t crippling. Is he better than someone like Shaone Morrisonn or Milan Jurcina? Absolutely. Is he irreplaceable? Absolutely not.

Again, I’m not knocking Hannan’s game at all by saying that because he did what he was expected to do and played more minutes than I thought he would so he gets a B+ on the season. I still would like the Caps to bring him back next year but he’s going to have to sign for a lot less than what he’s making now. It seems that over the past few years, teams have been overpaying for defensive defensemen (see Komisarek, Mike) so he could fetch more in the open market after having a good season with Washington but I think the Caps can find someone whose game is similar to his for a lot less money. If he produces at both ends of the ice then that’s a different story.

Hannan/Fleischmann trade thoughts

As most Caps fan probably know by now, Washington traded 26-year old forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for 31 year old defenseman Scott Hannan. I saw a move like this in the works for awhile since Fleishcmann is expandable right now and has played some very bad hockey these past few months. Moving him to address another need was a smart move, and the Caps have needed more defensive depth all year. If you don’t know Scott Hannan, he was billed as a “physical shutdown defenseman” by the Avs after they signed him to a 4 year $18 mil contract a few seasons ago. He never really lived up to that hype but he is a good defensive player and had a good season last year.

What I Like About This Trade

Like I said earlier, the Caps are moving a player who isn’t performing and doesn’t seem to have a place on a team. Fleischmann played well at the beginning of last season but only had 8 points in 18 games after the Olympic break last year and was brutal in the playoffs. He only has 10 points in 22 games this year despite getting top 6 minutes and being on the powerplay unit. The transition to center may have thrown off his game and I suppose he could turn things around in Colorado if he’s moved back to right wing.

I also like this move because it gives us more depth defensively and likely means that Tyler Sloan or Brandon Fahey will not play that many games for the rest of the year. With Hannan, we have 7 NHL caliber defenseman and one fringe player. Another move could be on the way or we might just waive Sloan now. I don’t see Hannan being more than a 3rd pairing defenseman but hopefully this will take the burden off Mike Green a little bit so he wont be playing near a half-hour a night. A defense corps of Green/Schultz, Alzner/Carlson, Poti/Hannan definitely looks like an improvement. Hannan can handle big minutes and kill penalties so that will be a huge help. Hopefully it will get Poti off the PK, at least.

What I Don’t Like About This Trade

Hannan’s cap hit is $4.5 mil but he only has a year left on his contract and it’s not that bad of a hit when taking away Flash’s $2.6 mil. You can definitely say that there were better options out there but McPhee didn’t want to give any free agent a multi-year contract, which is understandable. I am hoping people have realistic expectations about Hannan because his recent numbers don’t exactly say “big shutdown defenseman” like most are suggesting. If we’re just going to use him as a depth defenseman that can play big minutes, then I’m fine with it.

Another thing is that people say we could have gotten more for Fleischmann but I have to think his trade value is low right now and the only other rumor I heard was him going to Vancouver for Kevin Bieksa, which I didn’t want. Hannan is a better option than that but I think we till could have gotten a cheaper option via free agency.

Also, with Flash gone there’s still the hole at 2nd line center which isn’t filled. As of right now, rookie Marcus Johansson has that position and he’s been playing very well since coming back from injury. Still have to remember that he’s only 20 and a rookie but he’s outperformed some expectations I’ve had for him. Johansson and possibly Mathieu Perrault will get chances at centering the 2nd line before McPhee decides if he’s going to make a move for someone to fill that hole. I can definitely see another trade coming very soon.

Overall, I think it makes sense for both teams. Caps get rid of an unnecessary piece to fix another area, while the Avs move a big contract and get someone up front to help with the scoring now that Chris Stewart is out. Flash performs well with good linemates when he’s playing RW and I could see him with Paul Stastny in Colorado.