To Re-Sign or Trade Martin Hanzal


By Tim Waugh
Staff Writer

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.

Keeping Him

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.

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.

Trading Him

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.

To CHI:
C Martin Hanzal (50% of salary retained)

To ARI:
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?

To MIN:
C Martin Hanzal

To ARI:
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.

To MTL:
C Martin Hanzal

To ARI:
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.

Huberdeau Out 3-4 Months


By Shawn Spatz

Florida Panthers Writer

 

Jonathan Huberdeau, fresh off a six-year extension with the Panthers, suffered a leg injury last night in West Point that will knock him out of action until at least January. This is a huge blow to a team that has also lost Nick Bjugstad to a broken hand for the first few weeks of the season.

 

It will be hard to replace the 59 points that Huberdeau had last season, good for 3rd on the team behind Jussi Jokinen and Jaromir Jagr. Possible replacements on the Panthers’ top line include team newcomers Jonathan Marchessault, who signed on in July for two years after showing flashes in Tampa Bay, and Jared McCann, who came over from Vancouver in the Erik Gudbranson trade. In addition, one of those two will have to see time on the power play. Marchassualt saw time last night on both the power play and first line after Huberdeau’s exit, notching two points in Florida’s preseason finale. Florida will most likely not want to break up the line of Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck, and Reilly Smith, who enjoyed success last year as a solid unit. Either way, it is a tough break for a young team trying to get back into the playoffs.

Devils vs. Panthers Recap


By Sam Rabin

New Jersey Devils Writer

 

Devils head coach John Hynes hosted a very “old school” style of practice on Thursday in which he punished his players with 5 full laps around the ice for every penalty the team took during their scrimmage. Hynes did not like what he saw on Wednesday against the Islanders, in which his team committed 9 minor penalties en route to a 4-3 loss. Early reviews suggest that this harsh style of practice worked, as his team was largely able to stay out of the box against the Florida Panthers tonight at West Point. Unfortunately, that is one of the few positives to take from tonight as the Devils submitted a sloppy performance and had little to show for the extra 5 on 5 time their discipline granted.
The top line tonight was centred by rookie forward Pavel Zacha who was granted a chance to play with Taylor Hall and Devante Smith-Pelly due to Adam Henrique’s currently undisclosed illness. While both Zacha and Hall have looked promising in earlier pre season games, there was a noticeable lack of chemistry between the two as they both seemed to be fighting for the same areas of the ice. It can safely be assumed that Adam Henrique will be placed back on the top line upon his return. Another forward of note is 2015 3rd round draft pick Blake Speers, who has unexpectedly made it to the final round of cuts and has made a strong case for himself throughout the preseason. Though he remains pointless, he showed some great speed and hands as he attempted to set up his line mates tonight. There remains one more cut to be made and Hynes has said he hasent yet decided if it will be a forward or defensemen. Speers will likely be the final cut due to his eligibility to go back to his Jr team, but his extended time with the Devils likely puts him on the fast track to a permanent roster spot for next season.
On the defensive side, rookies Yohann Auvitu and Stephen Santini were given a final chance to impress the coaching staff before final cuts are made. While Santini was a favorite to make the team prior to the pre season, Auvitu has made a strong case for himself with 6 assists in 4 games while playing an effective quarterback role on the power play, something the Devils have missed since trading Marek Zidlicky back in the 2014-15 season. As this will be Santini’s first pro year after finishing his 3 years at Boston College, Auvitu(who has played the last 4 seasons in the Finnish Elite League) will likely start the season in the big club while Santini gains more experience in Albany.
The Devils started the game well as captain Andy Greene got the team on the board 4 minutes in by finishing a nice pass to the slot by Kyle Palmieri. Jaromir Jagr quickly tied the game by deflecting Johnathan Marcessault’s wrist shot on the power play. The Panthers went on to score 3 additional unanswered goals from Ekblad, Scievior and Trocheck before the end of the 2nd period, despite being outshot by the Devils for the majority of the game. Trochecks’s goal was the result of a mistake by Goaltender Cory Schneider as he turned the puck over to the Panthers forward while attempting to play the puck from behind the net. This continues a run of poor pre season form for Schneider which he insists will be corrected by the start of the regular season. Mike Cammilleri was able to get one back for the Devils on the power play midway through the third off of a pass from Auvitu, which ended up being the game’s final goal.
John Hynes will look to correct some of the mistakes made tonight and demand more of an effort from his team despite the games lack of importance. Defenseman Damon Severson was noticeablely hesitant to finish his checks which will hurt the team mid season. The Devils will look to avenge this loss at their regular season opener at the BB&T center on October 13th.

MacKenzie Named 9th Captain in Franchise History


By Shawn Spatz

Florida Panthers Writer

 

Derek MacKenzie, who donned the “C” last night in the Panthers’ preseason finale at West Point, was officially name captain tonight. Even though many thought Aaron Ekblad might be named captain, especially following the Edmonton Oilers naming Conner McDavid the youngest captain in NHL history, coach Gerard Gallant said he would not let that affect his decision.  MacKenzie, fresh off a 2-year extension, has worn the A for the club and sees a lot of his time on the penalty kill and 4th line. Mackenzie led the team’s centers in faceoff percentage, and was among the team leaders for short-handed time on ice, blocked shots, and short handed hits. His leadership and ability to do the dirty work, including occasionally dropping the gloves, gave coach Gerard Gallant the ability to name Mackenzie captain. Jussi Jokinen and Ekblad will be the alternates.

Allen Injured in Preseason


By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues

 

Blues starting goaltender, Jake Allen, left the preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks with an apparent leg injury. Hawks forward, Richard Panik tripped defenseman, Carl Gunnarsson with his stick, forcing him to fall on Allen. Allen was able to come out to the crease before the second period started, however, he immediately returned to the locker room and was replaced by Hutton. Though no report has been confirmed on the severity of the injury, video suggests that it could be an issue with his left ankle.

 

The Blues do have a worthy backup in newly signed, Carter Hutton. However, if this could turn in to a long(er)-term injury, is he ready to be a starting goaltender for the Note?  To date, Hutton has played in 76 career NHL games posting a 33-24 record, with a 2.56 GAA and .910 SV%. With a better defensive system in front of him with St. Louis, Hutton could prove to be very successful. The Blues do have a few options in their system with netminders Pheonix Copley and Ville Husso having impressive training camps.

 

More details to come*

 

For more insight and articles from Mike, check out his page on the NHL’s Central Division

The Quest for Bish


By Kyle Sandulli
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a lot of questions that needed answers this off season. There were UFAs aplenty and hockey legend Steve Yzerman has been implementing his Yzer-plan to the highest degree of efficiency. The contract Yzerman worked out with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were nothing short of miraculous – but there are still troubles plaguing the team.
Enter Ben Bishop. Two-time Vezina trophy finalist. Extreme athlete. Very tall. Probably loves dogs. At the end of the 2016-2017 season, he will become an UFA – and that spells trouble. Many speculated he would be traded during this off season to create more cap space for other contracts – such as Nikita Kucherov’s pending contract as he remains a RFA. But Bishop’s trade didn’t happen – he still remains with the team, ready to start alongside his backup Andrei Vasilevskiy. The fact that Bishop wasn’t traded creates a complicated situation for the Tampa Bay Lightning, mainly that they won’t be able to afford everyone for the 2017-2018 season (and don’t even get me started about the expansion draft). Kucherov is going to demand a hefty raise, and it is likely someone will have to be traded to make room for his new found riches.
Yet, even with a potential trade up and coming, the salary cap isn’t going away. The Lightning will still have a cap problem, and Bishop will still need a raise come the season’s end. So what is the solution? Andrei Vasilevskiy looked great in net when Big Ben was injured during Game 1 against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Perhaps Yzerman is hoping Vasilevskiy will step up to the challenge and fill some (very) big shoes for the team, and when he is good and ready, Bishop will be phenomenal trade fodder. If Vasy can’t step up to the challenge, though, Tampa will run into some issues as the trade deadline approaches on March 1st. Someone will have to go, be it Bishop, or someone we’d all rather not see leave, like Tyler Johnson.
At the end of the day, Bishop’s upcoming contract will cause problems, and that’s something we need to worry about in the future as an organization. But I think we can all agree that we’re very glad Matt Carle’s contract was bought out.