Monday, September 8, 2014

Returning Winterhawk Profile: #4 Josh Hanson

(Editor's note: In the countdown to the season opener on September 19th, I will be looking, individually, at each of the returning Winterhawks that look to be on the opening night roster).

Next up (in numerical fashion): #4 Josh  Hanson

Born: 1/14/1994
Hometown: Eagle River, Alaska
Position: Right Defense
How Acquired: 8th Round Pick (156th Overall) in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft

-2010/11: 43 Games Played, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, -1, 10 Penalty Minutes
              Playoffs: 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 0 PIMs.
-2011/12: 72 GP, 0 G, 13 A, +6, 25 PIMs.
              Playoffs: 22 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 2 PIMs.
 -2012/13: 72 GP, 1 G, 10 A, 11 Pts, +32, 22 PIMs.
              Playoffs: 21 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, 2 PIMs.
-2013/14: 68 GP, 2 G, 16 A, 18 Pts, +17, 37 PIMs.
              Playoffs: 14 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, 2 PIMs.

NHL Drafted: Has not been drafted and is a free agent.

-Hanson is entering his 5th season in Portland and has played 255 WHL regular season games and 58 playoff games in a Winterhawks sweater. It seems that he has been chosen as one the Hawk's 3 over-age players for this season and as an experienced Defenseman, should be relied upon to play a lot of minutes this season. This actually was the case the past season as well, considering Hanson had shown enough to think he would improve and be a top 4 pairing D-man. What happened instead was a slow regression down the defensive depth chart, resulting in him getting healthy scratched from some late regular season games and from 7 post-season games (including Games 6 and 7 of the WHL Final). His perceived potential has thus far not been realized and has been the object of frustration for a lot of Winterhawks fans. It's kind of unknown really why this potential hasn't been discovered. He seems mobile enough and has a decent shot; is a good size (6'3" 209 lbs), but just does not excel enough at one thing to cement his spot in the lineup and draw attention from NHL teams. There are games where he looks confident in carrying the puck up the ice and into the opponent's zone, but then again others where almost every pass he makes is ill-conceived. There are also games where he defends well, checking forwards and making it difficult for opponents to get to rebounds; but also others where he is out of position and gets burned, leading to situations where his goalie is hung out to dry. At the root of it, I don't know if he was ever the type of D-man who really fit into the Hawk's up tempo system. A lot of the other D-men give up the puck in bad situations as much as he does, but they bring way more offensive potential to the table. There has to be some hope this year that Hanson can finally show that he excels enough at one of these things, in order for him to stay on the roster in this valuable over-age spot.

-Whether Hanson has improved enough is completely unknown as he is battling some type of hand injury and has not played in any preseason games. One would think that with 3 D-men missing off last year's squad, Hanson should at least start his season, in a top 4 role for the Hawks. At one point last season, NHL Central Scouting listed him in their NHL draft rankings . The fact that he was once again untouched, means that scouts became dis-interested in him, even though he was healthy. This is really his last chance to get them interested in him again and earn a free agent tryout and contract (like Troy Rutkowski and Taylor Peters did). His size is a real asset on the back end and could be one reason why Portland has decided to keep him. In my own person opinion, he really needs to start expressing this toughness more, in order to earn his 20 year old spot. But like the following clip show, he has not really excelled at this yet either. My prognosis is that at some point Blake Heinrich, Nick Heid and Layne Viveiros will supplant him on the back end, making him expendable. Hanson has earned 4 years of college with his time in Portland and maybe he can earn some interest through playing hockey in Canada.

Previous Returning Winterhawk Profiles: Brendan Burke, Anton Cederholm, Ethan Price

1 comment: