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.

CONFIRMED: Oilers Sign Russell


By Mike Meyer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

Only hours removed of trading forward, Nail Yakupov to St. Louis, Oilers General Manager, Peter Chiarelli made his second move of Friday night by signing free agent defenseman, Kris Russell.

The move sparks wonder and curiosity about Chiarelli’s leadership and boldness to change his club. First trading former 2010 1st overall draft pick, Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman, Adam Larsson. Next trading former 2012 first overall, Nail Yakupov for AHL forward, Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 3rd round draft pick. And now acquiring another left-handed defenseman in Russell. His moves to enhance and help his club on the ice have certainly been bold, questionable, and interesting.

Russell will join the Oilers as the sixth left-handed defenseman on their roster. This is not to undermine the value that Russell can bring to this lineup, it is simply stating that a move perhaps was made out of desire, and not need. Russell can indeed help out this blue line, as the 29-year-old has averaged 23 minutes of ice time over the last three seasons, along with 177 total points over a career 573 NHL games between the Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, and the Dallas Stars. Though he might not be the sexy defenseman that Oilers fans were looking to quarterback the Powerplay for the next several years, Kris has shown that he does have the ability to help in all aspects of the game. Russell is a defensive first style defenseman that can help out on the penalty kill that saw a below league average, 80.71% success rate. In the 62 games that Russell appeared in last season, he was second in blocked shots with 210. As the signing may not fit a “need” that the Oilers fans are searching for, perhaps head coach Todd McLellan feels comfortable with the group that he has and will be bringing Russell in on his 1 year deal to do what he does best: block shots. If indeed that is what the Oilers are searching for and what they feel is the true need for this team, the Oilers certainly got their man.

As Chiarelli’s moves may have not been overly appealing to fantasy matters or even that armchair general managers would make to help out their squad, Chiarelli has made hockey trades that he feels will help strengthen areas that his team is weakest in. If his club can see an increase in the overall standings and dare I say push for a playoff berth, this proves to be a success. With the regular season set to begin just days away, the impact of his moves will begin to take shape.

BREAKING NEWS: Blues Acquire Yakupov


By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues Writer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

The St. Louis Blues have come out of nowhere and dealt again with Edmonton Oilers. This time, former first overall draft choice Nail Yakupov. And what for? AHL player Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 3rd round draft pick. The condition being if Nail scores just 15 goals this season, the 3rd round draft choice becomes a 2018 2nd round pick. 15 goals might not seem that much, but Nail has only reached over 15 once in his career which came in his rookie season from 2012-13.

Yakupov will join a cast of young Blues stars as they transition from David Backes and Troy Brouwer to the likes of Robby Fabbri, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. St. Louis should hope for plenty of talent and structure to help bring the best in this low risk, high reward trade.
Yakupov has played 252 NHL career games where he has posted 50 goals and 111 total points.

Connor McDavid Becomes Youngest Captain in NHL History


By Mike Meyer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

After months of speculation and wonder, the Edmonton Oilers have officially named Connor McDavid their Captain. At 19 years old, 8 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day, Connor has been named the youngest Captain in NHL history. Since before the 2015 NHL draft, McDavid was categorized as the best thing to happen to hockey since Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky, and as the next big generational talent.

 

Before being drafted first overall to the Oilers in 2015, McDavid played in the OHL for the Erie Otters where he racked up 285 points in 167 games. His first year with Edmonton, limited to only 45 games due to a broken clavicle during a game against Philadelphia, he was able to provide 16 goals and 48 points. After finishing third in the Calder Trophy rankings, McDavid will be heavily leaned on to lead Edmonton back to success and restore the Oilers name.

Will Rieder be Traded?


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes winger Tobias Rieder has made quite the name for himself in Arizona. Since being traded from Edmonton in 2013 for Kale Kessy, Rieder has notched 58 points over 154 games in both of his NHL seasons, for the Coyotes. At just the beginning of his career, Rieder is off to a great start garnering attention from around the league with his speed, skill and defensive play, along with his most recent appearance with the underdog finalists Team Europe in the resurrected World Cup of Hockey. More recently, however, the press has been surrounding the current contract talks between his camp and the Arizona Coyotes.

 

Rieder remains an RFA after his most recent three-year, $925k deal expired last season. His play as of last year demands a pay raise, there is no doubt, and both sides prepared for negotiations heading into the off-season. But that’s exactly where things hit a standstill, negotiations. Reports indicate the most recent attempt at a deal met with Chayka and the Coyotes offering $2.2 million per year while Rieder’s camp requested closer to $2.5-$2.7 million per year. The pay isn’t far off, but the term in mind for both sides is whats vastly different. While GM Chayka suggested a lower-price qualifying offer as well to compliment his longer term one, presumably to get Rieder back at the negotiating table for one year and to see if his play keeps improving, Rieder and his agent Darren Ferris are not impressed. “It would be best for both parties if they just traded him.” stated Ferris in an email to Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com.

 

What is causing a rift here, is term. Arizona wants to ultimately lock Tobi in long-term at a team-friendly price, and Rieder wants the ability to earn his raise sooner than later. Such is the plight of an RFA who’s potential is unforeseen by many. Shooting up from the same round (4th) of the same draft (2011) as the player traded for him, Rieder has risen from AHL probable to NHL regular. He has certainly made a case for himself with his 16-point increase to last season from the one prior, but with the way negotiations are looking, it might be too little too late to wet the lips of the Coyotes. With cheap, highly touted prospects on entry-level contracts itching to break onto the NHL roster, Rieder has less leverage than he would have two or three years ago.

 

Trade rumours have started to swirl, speculations have begun, names and propositions are being posted, tweeted and blogged. None of this means Rieder and the Coyotes being a doomed relationship is for certain, but with KHL deals offered to him, trades possibly being drafted up by other teams, and time till the season’s start wearing thin, Tobias Rieder has a lot of decisions to make and not a lot of time to make them.

Trouba Requests Trade From Jets


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By Sie Nicole

Staff Writer

 

Jacob Trouba has requested a trade from the Winnipeg Jets and will not be attending their training camp this week. Trouba is currently a restricted free agent. The 22 year old former first round pick has been in negotiations since May to depart from the Jets, as revealed in a statement from his agent.

 

The statement also states that Trouba isn’t seeking a larger paycheck, but rather, a larger on-ice role.

 

There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

 

To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

 

Trouba is coming off a rough year with the Jets. Being partnered with Mark Stuart found him as a bottom D-pair and his play suffered. Trouba consistently performed better with any other pairing, notably performing well with Dustin Byfuglien, but still found himself partnered with the aging Stuart. He also spent this month as the seventh defenseman for the World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America, playing two games after Aaron Ekblad was injured.

 

As a young right handed defenseman, he’s a hot commodity and should have no problem finding ample opportunity for a larger role elsewhere. As such, the price for Trouba will be hefty. The Jets are likely going to being looking for a left side defenseman in exchange, and that’s just the starting price.

 

No stranger to trade rumors, Trouba was reportedly being shopped at the trade deadline, with teams including Detroit and Boston expressing interest. Being a former Wolverine and Rochester native makes him very appealing to Detroit, a team with five Michiganders currently on their roster and issues with their blueline. The Bruins are fairly desperate for elite defenseman and that puts all of the leverage in Winnipeg’s hand. A too-high asking price may have prevented a move between the two last season.

 

Other teams in the mix could be Edmonton, whose defense is notably weak, resulting in the trade that moved winger Taylor Hall to New Jersey in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. Anaheim could also see some cap relief in trading for Trouba, moving a veteran contract in the process.
Trouba tallied 23 goals and 49 assists in 211 games with Winnipeg.

Coyotes Acquire Lawson Crouse


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes GM John Chayka was back at it again this morning, making Arizona hockey a year-round spectacle. The Arizona Coyotes have traded their 3rd round pick in 2017 and a conditional 2nd in 2018 for Panthers prospect Lawson Crouse and veteran Dave Bolland.

 

Arizona possesses their own and Detroit’s 3rd rounder, the higher of the two by season’s end will be the one sent to Florida. The 2nd round pick in the deal becomes a 3rd in 2018 if Crouse does not play 10 games for Arizona in the 2016-17 season.

Lawson Crouse was the 11th overall pick in 2015 for the Panthers. Hoping to join his former gold-medal winning World Junior Championship teammates Max Domi and Anthony Duclair in Arizona next season, Crouse logged 23 goals and 62 points in 49 games for the Kingston Frontiacs of the OHL last year. A big, strong left winger, Crouse is more known for his size and puck protection than offense, but no slouch at scoring points either.

30-year-old center Dave Bolland is a veteran center, playing for Chicago, Toronto, and Florida in his nine years in the NHL. With a $5.5 million contract he inked after winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks still valid for 3 more years, and nowhere near as productive as he once was, the addition of Bolland seemed to be more of a cap subtraction for Florida. Although not worth the price tag, Bolland can still be a serviceable depth centerman for the Coyotes, bringing some extra experience to a ever-growing youth movement in the locker room. Bolland scored 5 points in his 25 games in Florida, also playing 2 games for their AHL affiliate Portland.