The Vancouver Canucks will be represented by two players on Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey, one of which is winger Jannik Hansen.
Team Canada added Corey Perry to their World Cup of Hockey roster as an injury replacement. After several injury replacements for Team USA, Phil Kessel is still not on the team. For Team Europe, however, Vancouver Canucks Jannik Hansen and Luca Sbisa were first-choice options.
To no one’s surprise, Team Europe does not have the same kind of quality as Canada, the US, Sweden or Finland. Because of that, it was important for them to find the right kind of players — and Hansen is exactly that kind.
Playing against teams like Canada, there are a few abilities players need: goal scoring, two-way ability and speed. Keep up with the opponent, prevent them from scoring goals, and get the puck in the net as often as you can. It’s that simple. Well, in theory anyway.
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After years and years of bottom-six play, Hansen finally got a chance to prove he can be more. Skating on the top line with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin for most of the 2015-16 campaign, the Danish winger recorded a career-high 22 goals and fell just one point shy of his career-high 39 points. Hansen won’t wow you with his skill or creativity, but he can put the puck in the net, and that’s all that matters.
Furthermore, Hansen is one of many strong two-way players on Team Europe. He plays a solid 200-foot game with good defensive awareness and a good amount of grit. Hansen is not elite in any category, but he is a hard worker and strong skater who can easily face elite opposition.
While none of his skills are elite, Hansen has always stood out as a great skater. He brings a lot of speed and grit to the game, which is becoming more and more valuable in today’s NHL.
Some of the biggest surprises on the 2016 Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins were Conor Sheary, Carl Hagelin and Bryan Rust. The three each skated alongside one of the club’s top-three forwards — Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeny Malkin — and did a terrific job as complementary players.
With Anze Kopitar, Mats Zucarello, Marian Gaborik and Leon Draisaitl, among others, Team Europe has a few players that do or will soon deserve to be labelled elite. All these players need is a quick skater with a nose for the net. You know, like Jannik Hansen.
Team Europe certainly isn’t as stacked as, well, all other teams at the World Cup of Hockey. However, they made sure they had the right roster composition — and Hansen could be an important piece throughout the tournament.