Jannik Hansen

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

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USATSI

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Aftermath of Hansen-Goldobin trade shows risks of playing it safe

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AP

Aftermath of Hansen-Goldobin trade shows risks of playing it safe

When the Sharks traded prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a fourth-round pick to the Canucks for Jannik Hansen in February, they thought they were getting a player to put them over the top. 
 
Things didn’t work out entirely as planned, as the Edmonton Oilers eliminated San Jose in the first round, but Hansen was solid enough with seven points in 15 regular season games. He’s struggled to find that form this year.
 
Hansen skated on the third line at Friday’s practice ahead of Saturday’s rematch with his old club, according to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, but he’s been surplus to requirements for much of his first full season in San Jose.
 
He was scratched for six consecutive games before re-entering the lineup in Wednesday’s loss to the Lightning, and hasn’t played more than 16 minutes in a game. The latter isn’t much of a concern, as the two-way forward was an acquisition to bolster the team’s depth, but his lone point in eight games this season is. 
 
The Danish forward, then, has been replaceable from night to night, in large part because the Sharks have so many forwards like him. Ryan Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow, and Joel Ward all play the “gritty, versatile” game that drove general manager Doug Wilson to acquire Hansen, and all three have played in Hansen’s absence. 
 
Meanwhile, his counterpart in the trade has also had difficulty cracking the NHL lineup with his new organization, but for vastly different reasons. Goldobin’s offensive ability has never been questioned, but his defensive game has. 
 
“We thought [Goldobin] had an average camp,” Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning told The Province after Goldobin was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Utica. “His three-zone game, his overall game (needs improvement).”
 
So far, the 22-year-old appears to have responded to that message. Ryan Johnson, Vancouver’s director of player development and Utica’s general manager, told Sportsnet 650 this week that he “[sees] the details in his game getting better,” all while Goldobin is ninth in the AHL in scoring with 13 points in 11 games. 
 
It makes one wonder why the Sharks couldn’t have been a little more patient with the former first-round pick. 
 
Goldobin clearly had a long way to go in the eyes of San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer, playing less than 19 minutes combined in two games with the Sharks last season. He may not have been ready to contribute to a team in win-now mode, but his departure left an organization starving for players with offensive upside even hungrier. 
 
Really, the Hansen-Goldobin swap was a neat encapsulation of the skillsets the Sharks value. Two-way responsibility is of the utmost importance, and that’s why San Jose is one of the NHL’s best defensive teams. 
 
But that can come at the expense of high-end skill, and that’s why they’re also one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams hovering around .500. With Goldobin traded, Kevin Labanc in the AHL, and Timo Meier skating in the Sharks’ bottom six, that shouldn’t be a surprise.  
 
When you value safety, you run the risk of failing to stand out. Since the trade, Hansen hasn’t, and neither have the Sharks. 

DeMelo, Hansen scratches should spook Sharks

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USATSI

DeMelo, Hansen scratches should spook Sharks

Halloween is known for its ghost stories, and the Sharks have two of their own: Dylan DeMelo and Jannik Hansen.The pair isn’t haunting San Jose from beyond the grave, but the press box, where they’ve spent the last nine and four games, respectively.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for either of them.

DeMelo entered the season as the Sharks’ clear-cut sixth defenseman, set to finally get an extended look after spending more time in the press box than on the ice over the previous two seasons. Hansen wasn’t expected to play alongside Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton as he was in the spring, yet was still pencilled in as a bottom-six lock.

Instead, DeMelo’s found himself back in the press box. Fellow right-handed defenseman Tim Heed, with six points in nine games and a role on the top power play unit, has pushed him out of the lineup. An injury on the left side of the depth chart hasn’t helped DeMelo’s cause, either, as head coach Peter DeBoer prefers to keep defensemen on their strong side.

DeBoer’s also tinkered with his bottom-six forward group in pretty much every game. Of third-and-fourth liners that skated in Monday night’s win over Toronto, only three had played in every game: Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi, and Chris Tierney.

It’s hard to blame him. The Sharks entered Tuesday tied for 25th in goal-scoring, and tied for 27th in goal-scoring at five-on-five play. Boedker, Donskoi, and Tierney have scored four, six, and four points, respectively. Hansen’s scored one, and hasn’t been able to crack the lineup.

Depth driving difficult decisions isn’t a bad thing, especially when someone like Heed is playing so well. Still, DeMelo and Hansen’s absences are disappointing. In DeMelo’s case, that’s because this was supposed to be the year he finally carved out a regular role. In Hansen’s, it’s because he was acquired with the top six in mind, and is out of the lineup entirely 28 regular season and playoff games after the Sharks gave up a mid-round draft choice and a former first round pick.

Despite not playing much lately, DeMelo and Hansen are not among the players general manager Doug Wilson is reportedly trying to move, That’s surprising.

Not because they’ll fetch a more significant return than Boedker, Tierney, or Paul Martin, but because the two are fairly movable. Neither DeMelo nor Hansen is signed beyond this season, and they’re making $650,000 and $2,000,000, respectively. Hansen’s contract contains a modified no-trade clause, but his cap hit is easy to swallow for a team in need of forward depth.

DeMelo and Hansen may yet still have roles to play this season. Injuries, and ineffectiveness, can change things in a hurry. Until that happens, though, their respective absences are a bit spooky.