A day after Steven Stamkos announced he wouldn’t be going to Sochi for the Olympics, Team Canada may have a late-blooming injury issue on their hands.
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis was scratched for the second straight game against the Montreal Canadiens with an injury, which could put his Olympic status in doubt.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis went on Team1040 Radio with Matthew Sekeres and Blake Price on Thursday, where he said Hamhuis was dealing with a soft tissue injury, which he suffered on Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.
If the Smithers, B.C., native is unable to make the trek to Sochi, Hockey Canada will have a decision to make with regards to how to replace him.
The obvious choice to replace Hamhuis is Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks, one of two active defenceman (along with San Jose’s Dan Boyle) who won gold in Vancouver in 2010 who didn’t make the team this time around. Seabrook is a big body who is in the prime of his career in Chicago, and he’s a steadying presence on the ice.
Though he likely wouldn’t play with Blackhawks defence partner Duncan Keith in Sochi, Seabrook is the type of player who could fit with just about anybody on the blue line and still make a positive contribution.
However, the supposed knock against Seabrook in the Sochi process is being a right-handed shot. It’s well-known that Canadian assistant coach Ken Hitchcock is a fan of having a left and right-handed defenceman on each pairing, and if Hamhuis can’t go, it takes away a left-handed shot.
When looking at southpaw substitutes, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano may be one of the first names considered. Giordano was on the Canadian radar throughout the process, and he has apparently been told to stay ready in the event of an injury. It could also vindicate Giordano, as an ankle injury early in the season may have cost him a shot at making Team Canada outright.
If picked, Giordano would become the second Flame to draw in as an injury replacement, with Mikael Backlund rumoured to be joining Team Sweden after Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin announced he wouldn’t be going because of a rib injury.
Though Canada has considerable defensive depth, only time will tell how everything shakes out with regards to Hamhuis. Vancouver’s last game before the Olympic break is on Saturday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. If Hamhuis is unable to suit up, it may be the last maple leaf he sees for the foreseeable future.