Even since before the first day of the 2016-2017 NHL season, speculations surrounding Martin Hanzal and his future in Arizona have been called into question. As a team in the later stages of a long rebuild, yearning to enter the competitive side of the league, what do you do with a 30-year-old, 6’6″ center about to enter unrestricted free agency? On one hand, he’s a type of player that realistically any team would love to have, but on the other, Hanzal has a few traits that some Coyotes fans think they would rather live without.
One of the hardest things to find in the NHL is everything that Martin Hanzal embodies; a large, skilled centerman than can create offense and win face-offs proficiently. At any skill level, these players are valued by each and every team. What the Coyotes have in Hanzal is more than just points on a sheet, the style he brings to the team are what have made him a fan-favorite. The 2005, 17th overall pick is famous for his net-front presence on the power play, making the life of the defending goalie miserable as his defenseman are left to try and out muscle the towering Czech. Another area of the game he excels in is something that is never in low demand.
The man is skilled at taking face-offs, there is no denying this.
Tweet to @yotestradecen tweeted:
Martin Hanzal in top 25 in FO% by year:
2016-17: 53.7% 22nd in NHL
2015-16: 56.0% 13th in NHL
2013-14: 54.5% 18th in NHL
1/13/17, 1:50pm ET
Every coach will agree with this statement, “possession ultimately wins you games;” and Hanzal, using his size to his advantage in this area of his game by holding his own as one of the league leaders, is dazzling for prospective GM’s looking to go deep in the upcoming playoffs.
Now his offense leaves much to be desired for a guy logging 1st line minutes on a regular basis, but despite never potting more than 16 goals and breaking the 40-point plateau only twice in his career, he’s still one of the better point producers for the Coyotes in recent years for how many games he misses due to injury (we’ll get to that). This year he is on track to beat his personal best for goals in a season (has 15 as of Feb. 24th), and with the Coyotes youth around him slowly becoming more productive themselves, he will only get better by association.
The 30-year-old, “Glass Giant” Hanzal has an AAV of $3.1 mil, and will be looking at a raise to only $4-$5 mil at the very max. The point production just isn’t there to justify the kind of money a 1C typically makes and I doubt he would get a matching offer anywhere else in the league in this salary cap-ruled era, especially with how often he has been injured in the past. It seems that the corrective back surgery he received a few off-seasons ago fixed the majority of his recurring injury problems, which is a good thing, but the kind of style he plays and sheer size take a much bigger toll on a player’s longevity.
The ideal outcome of keeping Martin Hanzal would be if he re-signs in the offseason in a 3 year, $12 million deal, but it will probably be closer to 4 or 5 years.
Hanzal is one of the biggest (of the most plausible) names in the rumor mill this season, as the March 1st trade deadline creeps closer. It was reported by Pierre LeBrun of TSN that as many as 10 teams have inquired or shown interest in Hanzal at the end of January, that number has more than likely risen since due to demand and his play drastically improving as of late. Several teams are confirmed to have shown interest so far; Montreal, Minnesota and Chicago, to name a few. With GM John Chayka setting the asking price as high as a 1st round pick, a top prospect, and an additional pick (as per the reported deal with Montreal of said picks and prospect Michael McCarron) will teams bite? Chayka also has been quoted stating he “would rather get an NHL ready player in return for Marty.”
Hanzal is 30 years old, coming off a long deal and looking for a raise. Not a lot of contenders have room to re-sign him past this season, so him being purely a rental for a lot of teams will be a hard sell for that kind of price.
As Arizona fans, to have our cake and eat it too, trading Hanzal just to have him re-sign with us in the offseason would be astounding and not that unlikely. The salary cap is staying where it is next season, which means contenders who trade for his services will have a hard time re-signing him after their playoff campaign unless he takes a massive pay-cut.
Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller and potentially our 2017 1st round pick are our future 1C and 2C options going forward. Hanzal playing 2nd or dare I say 3rd line center behind one of these kids would bring depth to the roster we haven’t seen in years, but also trading him to bolster a position we need major help in (right wing comes to mind) could be an answer to our woes offensively.
Some potential trades for Hanzal.
C Martin Hanzal (50% of salary retained)
2017 conditional 2nd round pick (becomes 1st round pick if Chicago makes it to Western Conference Finals)
RW Ryan Hartman
This one is a bit tougher because Ryan Hartman is one of the few-remaining jewels in the Blackhawks system. The right-handed right winger has 24 points in 54 games this season, getting his first real good look at an NHL level. Having been cultivated by the Hawks for years and finally showing his value, Hartman has also been tied to Chicago due to his low AAV for his skill, but could he be separated from Chicago for the services of Hanzal?
C Martin Hanzal
2017 1st round pick
RW Alex Tuch
Tuch is the Wild’s 2014 18th overall selection, and putting up 12-15-27 in 37 games with Iowa (AHL). Another natural right winger the Coyotes sorely need when Vrbata and Doan retire. The Wild are stocked to the brim with prospects, and Tuch might just be the price of getting Hanzal to help them win their first Stanley Cup.
C Martin Hanzal
2017 1st round pick
RW Michael McCarron
As it has been discussed publicly before, no doubt the Canadiens want Hanzal’s help at center. Galchenyuk and Plekanec are their only decent options at center right now, and as much as I don’t think we need a player like McCarron even if he is a right winger, this trade can’t be denied as a probability.