SAN JOSE – When the Sharks added Scott Hannan just prior to last season’s trade deadline, it was seen as a depth move for a club making a playoff push.
Hannan, who was recovering from a suspected head injury at the time he arrived from Nashville for a sixth round pick in the 2013 draft, came in handy. The veteran played in just four regular season games, but suited up for all 11 in the postseason, as Jason Demers was out with a high ankle sprain. Skating primarily with Brad Stuart, that third pair provided steady play as the Sharks took Los Angeles to seven games in the second round.
Hannan returned on a one-year, $1 million deal in the offseason, in a move that is working out so far. The 34-year-old has played in all but one game, and is even contributing on the scoreboard, with three goals and three assists. His point shot past Martin Brodeur on Saturday night against New Jersey opened the scoring in what was a 2-1 win for the Sharks.
“My skating and my legs have felt better than they have in awhile,” Hannan said on Monday. “The offense comes. When you play with good players up front, you get opportunities to shoot the puck, and that’s all I’m doing a lot more.”
Todd McLellan said: “I don’t see him as a depth player. I see him as a regular player, and a guy that can contribute on a nightly basis in a lot of different areas.”
Hannan took advantage of Stuart’s unspecified offseason lower body injury, which prevented Stuart from training properly in the summer months and playing in any preseason games. Hannan has averaged 18 minutes and 33 seconds of ice time, is a key penalty killer, and has a +5 rating to go along with his six points.
In his second stint with the Sharks since he was drafted by the organization in the first round in 1997, Hannan is providing more than just strong on-ice play, though, according to the coach.
“I think his leadership skills go unnoticed, unless you’re in the locker room,” McLellan said. “He has a way of carrying himself that’s real positive for our team. I like that, and I didn’t know we were getting that in him.”
Currently, Matt Irwin is the odd man out on defense, as the 25-year-old has been a healthy scratch for the last six games. Hannan’s play is a big reason why Irwin, who signed a two-year contract extension last season, has been relegated to the press box.
A team’s coaching staff always welcomes internal competition, and the Sharks are fortunate to have seven healthy defensemen foster that competition at the moment.
“We’ve got seven good D. We all can’t be in there every night, but I’m happy to be in there, I feel good, and it’s nice,” Hannan said.
“We’re going to need seven guys over the course of a season, and we may need more. We never know. … We have guys that can jump into the lineup, and we don’t miss much of a beat.”
McLellan is delighted that Hannan is one of those seven.
“Sometimes players come advertised in different forms. Some live up to their advertisements, some exceed it, and some don’t even get close to it. For me, Scottie is exceeding it,” McLellan said.