How will Travis Hamonic fit in when he returns to the Canucks’ lineup?

After signing a cheap one-year contract worth $1.2 million, Vancouver Canucks fans were excited about the addition of Travis Hamonic.

Many expected the veteran defender to fill in Chris Tanev’s vacant spot alongside Quinn Hughes, but unfortunately, he was injured just five games into the season and hasn’t played since. There has been word, however, that Hamonic is nearing a return, per Brendan Bachelor of Sportsnet.

The question then becomes, how will he fit into the Canucks’ lineup when he eventually suits up?

As it currently stands, Vancouver’s blueline pairings see Hughes paired with Jordie Benn, Nate Schmidt with Alex Edler, and Olli Juolevi alongside Tyler Myers. Over the past five games, this lineup has produced the best defensive results of the season; the Canucks have conceded only 12 goals against and owns a 54% expected goals percentage over that span at five on five according to Natural Stat Trick.

It seems unlikely that the Canucks would decide to break up their current defensive pairings just to accommodate Hamonic, especially when the team seems to have finally turned a corner on the season. Moreover, the only spot where Hamonic would likely play would be beside Hughes, but Benn has more than solidified his position next to the 21-year-old dynamo.

Hughes and Benn have spent just under 140 minutes at five on five together this year and have controlled shot attempts 47% of the time while owning a 50.40% expected goals percentage.

In comparison, Hughes and Hamonic have only played 47 minutes at five on five as a duo and have actually controlled a better portion of the shot attempts, as their corsi sits at 51.52%. However, they only have a 36.75% expected goals percentage, which is a far cry from what Hughes has posted with Benn.

Taking these factors into consideration, it’s likely Hamonic will be used as a seventh defenceman when he returns to Vancouver’s lineup, which is still a nice luxury to have for a team that has struggled mightily defensively.

What do you think, Canucks fans? Do you want to see Hamonic back in the main lineup or used as a seventh defenceman? Let us know in the comments below!