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.

Rick Nash Moving to Cali?


By Bobby Bauders
Senior Writer/Editor

Just like everyone else, I have no idea what’s going on in Jeff Gorton’s head. He’s made some pretty questionable decisions, like past Ranger management. But one has the assume the New York Rangers will be shopping Rick Nash who just hasn’t produced as they would like. The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks are rumored to be front runners in the Nash sweepstakes. Also, keep in mind Nash’s modified No Trade Clause, which states he can accept a trade to 12 teams he lists. That lowers the number of suitors.

 

If Nash is traded, he’s going to need replaced. And in free agency I just don’t see how it can be done. It’s rumored that the Rangers are looking at Stamkos, but I just don’t see that happening with their cap and the fact that Buffalo is rumored to be offering $12M.

 

In 60 games played this season, Nash scored 15 goals and 36 points. In the 5 games the Rangers played in the playoffs against the Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nash scored 2 goals and 2 assists.

 

Anaheim Ducks:

The Ducks are clearly interested in another forward. Rick Nash would be an interesting addition given his power forward style of play, which fits Anaheim’s style of play. But one has to wonder, with a new coach (sort of) and failures with the previous system, shouldn’t they go a different route?

 

The rumored price would be Cam Fowler. Straight up that makes sense for the Rangers. Not for the Ducks though. Fowler is pretty young and is still growing, and giving him up for an aging Nash who hasn’t produced, doesn’t seem likely. Maybe they could throw in a 3rd Round Pick. Although Gorton probably isn’t keen on that idea considering the Rangers have no 1st or 2nd Round Picks.

 

Hampus Lindholm’s name has come up as well. With the signing of Sami Vatanen to a 4-year $19.5M deal, that pretty much leaves Lindholm as the odd man out as an RFA against Anaheim’s struggling cap. That’s why Fowler is the most logical solution in a trade. Although, Lindholm’s rights could be traded away soon as a deal doesn’t seem very possible unless Anaheim decides to give up on forwards such as David Perron and Chris Stewart.

 

San Jose Sharks:

The Sharks are another team rumored to be interested. The defending Western Conference Champion is disappointed to say the least they couldn’t bring Lord Stanley to Northern California, and will be making changes to try and bring it home next year. Could this change also involve Nash? San Jose has a similar power forward system as Anaheim, only it seems to be working finally in San Jose. So they’ll be expected to stick with it.

 

The only player I can see San Jose wanting to trade is Paul Martin. He’s 35-years-old and has a cap hit of $4.85M. Not that he’s a bad player, but his cap hit is a little extreme. Plus, New York is looking for defense.

 

The other assets we should point most of our focus towards in San Jose’s 2nd Round Pick this year, and their 1st Round Pick next year. As stated previously, New York has no 1st or 2nd Round Picks this year. That means they may be looking for one. Maybe next year’s 1st plus Paul Martin for Rick Nash? Some might say that’s a bit pricey given Nash’s performance. They might also throw in this year’s 2nd if New York is willing to give up a 3rd. But then that leaves San Jose without 1st or 2nd Round Picks this year, which is something General Manager Doug Wilson would not want to do.

 

I don’t see any Nash trade happening very easily. I see Gorton wanting to shop him, but his value has gone down significantly, don’t expect the best return Ranger fans.

Who’ll Acquire Shattenkirk?


By Bobby Bauders
Senior Writer/Editor

Kevin Shattenkirk, 27-years-old will not be part of the St. Louis Blues next year. Shattenkirk is currently making $4.25 million and will likely expect a hefty raise next year. St. Louis cannot take his cap hit any longer, and a bidding war is reportedly taking place between the Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Let’s explore what it would take for each team to acquire Shattenkirk. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s being reported that a deal isn’t closed to being reached between Shattenkirk and St. Louis.

 

Arizona Coyotes:

As explained in previous stories, the Coyotes have hired GM John Chayka, and he’ll be wanting to put his stamp on the team. Shattenkirk is an excellent right-handed defenseman who actually knows how to score. He got 88 points combined in his previous 2 seasons. Defense is something the Coyotes need to address and will likely address at this year’s draft with the likes of Olli Juolevi or Mikhail Sergachev.

 

But what about what they could do now? Chayka has already acquired the negotiating rights to Alex Goligoski, and it looks like he’s going to sign a 5 year deal. That’s evidence enough that Chayka isn’t only thinking about the future.

 

Let’s take a look at the possible defensive pairings should the Coyotes sign Goligoski and acquire Shattenkirk.

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Kevin Shattenkirk

Alex Goligoski – Michael Stone (currently injured)

Klas Dahlbeck/Niklas Grossmann – Connor Murphy/Zybnek Michalek

 

Personally, if Shattenkirk is acquired, once Stone is recovered the Coyotes should look into trading Michalek again.

 

But what would Chayka be willing to give up? You’re mind probably automatically goes to the Coyotes’ 7th overall pick. While that seems obvious, I think Chayka is comfortable at 7. The Coyotes also have the 20th overall pick and two 2nd round picks. Maybe they could be involved. Maybe package the 20th overall plus a second round pick with a mid-low end prospect? It’s been reported that the Coyotes have received an impressive offer for the 7th overall. Could it be for Kevin Shattenkirk?

 

Maybe add a top-scoring forward for the right price (say Okposo, Ladd?) and the Coyotes look pretty good going into next season. It’ll be interesting to see what Chayka does with the Coyotes this summer.

 

Edmonton Oilers:

It’s no secret Edmonton needs an overhaul and help on the blue line. Shattenkirk would be a good fit in Edmonton. But what would the Oilers be willing to give up? They have the 4th overall pick as well as a 2nd and three 3rd round picks. It’s hard to imagine Shattenkirk going for the 4th overall straight up.

 

It’s going to be hard for the Blues to get the 4th overall straight up. Maybe throw in one of their 2nd/3rd round picks?

 

Edmonton’s current defensive lineup is just straight up bad. Adding a top D-Man is crucial. Let’s look at their lineup adding Shattenkirk.

 

Andrej Sekera – Kevin Shattenkirk

Oscar Klefbom – Andrew Ference

Brandon Davidson – Mark Fayne

Nikita Nikitin – Adam Clendening

 

Not perfect, but a definite improvement. Peter Chiarelli needs to look into this, especially considering that Sekera isn’t getting any younger.

 

Boston Bruins:

First off, I’m not really sure how Boston gets this done. They’re in a tight cap situation right now, so Shattenkirk would likely just be a rental. Boston isn’t exactly in a position to be renting players.

 

But let’s explore. They have 2 first round picks and 1 second round picks. Maybe they could package their late first and their second? Maybe even throw in the rights to an expiring contract to sweeten the pot? Also, I think they’d have to add Adam McQuaid in there somehow in order to get some cap relief. So maybe instead of the second round pick it’s the first and McQuaid? Not to mention McQuaid and Shattenkirk are both right-handed. This would then be considered an upgrade from McQuaid.

 

Let’s take a look at their potential lineup. This is assuming all the players listed in this lineup are re-signed somehow and McQuaid is involved in the trade.

 

Zdeno Chara – Kevin Shattenkirk

Torey Krug – Dennis Seidenberh

Joe Morrow – Kevan/Colin Miller

 

That’s an upgraded defense. It’ll be interesting to see if Boston can swing Shatty, especially given the fact that they have cap troubles and a lot of contract drama.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs:

The Toronto Maple Leafs are another rebuilding team looking in the now. The acquisition of goalie Frederik Andersen shows this. A solid defender could help their season next year. It’s rumored that they’re currently offering James van Riemsdyk to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Cam Fowler. Let me start off by saying that makes the most sense considering Anaheim is looking for another top-six forward. Also, St. Louis will likely not be interested in JVR due to cap issues.

 

What else could they trade? Obviously not the first overall, that’s not going anywhere. But they do have 2 second round picks and quite the prospect pool. I was thinking something along the lines of the 2 second round picks and Scott Harrington.

 

Let’s look at their prospective lineup with Shattenkirk:

 

Jake Gardiner – Kevin Shattenkirk

Jared Cowen – Morgan Rielly

Andrew Campbell – Matt Hunwick

 

Not great, but certainly an improvement from last year’s lineup. Also, they’d have to find a way to dump Stephane Robdias. But given their cap surplus, that’s not crucial.

 

 

 

Nugent-Hopkins Possible Destinations


By Andrew Muirhead

Staff Writer

 

Peter Chiarelli’s Edmonton Oilers are in desperate need of some blue line support, someone who can be a go-­to shutdown defender for years to come during this rebuild. It’ll most likely take one of the Oilers’ young superstars, Ryan Nugent-­Hopkins or Jordan Eberle to land said top blue­liner. Taylor Hall, who is most likely to be Edmonton’s next captain, will not be going anywhere. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl certainly aren’t going anywhere as they will be Edmonton’s future down the center. Due to Eberle’s poor performance since returning from injury, Nugent-­Hopkins is the player most likely to be moved. The former first overall pick will likely be on the move at or around the NHL Draft on June 24th. Let’s look at some possible destinations:

 

Nashville Predators:

The Predators are definitely in need of some top-­six scoring, knowing that second line center Mike Fisher is 36-years-old and will most likely not be in the league much longer. Nashville made an exchange during the 2015­-16 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, trading away Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen who they knew would be that first line center they’d been searching for, but they could be searching for more. Nashville obviously would not be willing to part ways with Shea Weber or Roman Josi, leaving a couple young-­guns named Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. These two defensemen of the 2009 draft class had strong seasons with the Preds, Ekholm recording 35 points in 82 games with a plus 14 rating and Ellis with 32 points in 79 games with a plus 13 rating. Although neither have much top­-four experience, Edmonton will definitely show some interest during this year’s draft. This exchange could definitely address some needs for both teams, and not leave either in cap trouble for years to come.

 

Minnesota Wild:

The Wild have a handful of very slightly above average guys down the middle and could use the no-­doubt 1st or 2nd line center in Ryan Nugent-­Hopkins. Minnesota finished in the bottom half of the league for goals per game so they could definitely use a boost, and seeing as the 33 year old captain Mikko Koivu is only going to get older, this kind of acquisition becomes even more important for the future. The Wild have a surplus of young defensemen in their system, but most notably, Matt Dumba (RFA) and Jared Spurgeon. Dumba really proved himself this year as a top defenseman for the Wild who have now made the playoffs four straight years. I think Dumba’s rights will be of higher interest for Edmonton as he is 5 years younger than Spurgeon and has much more room to grow into an NHL superstar. The only issue with this deal is that the Wild will most likely have to free up some cap room for RNH’s $6M cap hit. Definitely possible that Coyle’s contract for $3.2M over the next 4 years would be moved to free up some room so the Wild can re­-sign some players. Although this exchange would benefit both organizations, I think Edmonton would be on the winning side of this deal as they would address a very big issue while throwing a guy into the mix that could possibly turn into an absolute beast for the Oilers in years to come.

 

Ottawa Senators:

The Sens are another team with a couple of slightly above average centers who have had to step up into the number 1 and 2 center roles. Obviously, Nugent­-Hopkins can be there to take up that top spot or maybe even the second. Nugent-Hopkins and Kyle Turris would make an excellent one-two-punch down the center. The Senators would probably have to give up 22-year-old defenseman, Cody Ceci in order to acquire their much needed 1st/2nd line center. Ceci posted a career best 10 goals and 26 points in 75 games as well as a plus 9 rating. He can be a solid defender in his own zone as well as some production on the offensive side for the Oilers. This will be a solid deal for both teams, although Ottawa will be taking in RNH’s hefty contract of $6M for the next 5 years, they will still be left with about $11.5M to resign players.

Possible Trade: Edmonton trades Number 4 Overall to Montreal


By Bobby Bauders
Senior Writer/Editor

It’s no secret that the Oilers are shopping the 4th overall pick. I believe that they will either want to pick Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi, or Mikhail Sergachev. Montreal on the other hand wants to draft Pierre-Luc Dubois. Edmonton can have their pick at any one of the three defenders at number 4 overall, but they believe that they can move down and still have one available.

Should they move down to number 9, which is the pick Montreal owns and would likely be the foundation of any trade with Edmonton, they would probably only have one choice available. Arizona and Buffalo have the number 7 and 8 picks respectively, and are expected to select defensemen.

Montreal would not be able to select Dubois at 9, as Vancouver is expected to select him. If Vancouver doesn’t select him I fully expect Dubois to be chosen by Calgary.

Montreal has needed a playmaking scoring forward for quite some time. With Dubois they could finally have him.

As for Edmonton, they need a good defensive prospect, as they have basically none other than Griffin Reinhart. At 9, they probably won’t be getting their first choice, or second choice, but Chychrun, Juolevi, and Sergachev are all great D-men with great futures, so they should be able to settle.

Obviously those two assets wouldn’t be the only two involved. Maybe one of Montreal’s second round picks and a prospect? Depending on the value of the whatever prospect Montreal would be willing to give up that second round pick could change into a third round pick.

In the end, I think both teams would benefit from this trade. Edmonton can move down and still pick a quality defenseman while picking up some assets, and Montreal would get a puck-smart playmaking forward in Dubois.

Flyers Interested in Yakupov


By Bobby Bauders
Senior Writer/Editor

Back in 2012 Nail Yakupov was selected 1st overall at the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. His future looked bright. The Edmonton Oilers looked on their way up. Now, 4 years later in 2016, the 22-year-old Yakupov is falling miles away from expectations, and the Oilers are looking to dish him, and the Philadelphia Flyers may be interested.

Yakupov is coming off his least productive year in the National Hockey League. In 60 games played he had only 8 goals and 23 points. That’s a far cry from his rookie season where he played only 48 games scoring 17 goals and 31 points, arguably his most productive season of his young NHL career.

 

So why would the Flyers be interested in what seems to be a declining Yakupov? 2 main points: low cost and the change of scenery.

 

Yakupov comes at a low price in value and salary. His current salary is $2.5 million until he becomes a Restricted Free Agent next offseason. Flyers currently have about $10.5 million in cap space before all their re-signings.

 

The second point is the change of scenery. Obviously forwards have been having a difficult time in Edmonton. They have a top-6-forward core of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov and they still can’t find a way to win. Something is very wrong with that picture. Philly may be the change Yakupov needs to boost himself to the potential that he possess. No one’s denying he has skill, he’s just not utilizing that skill.

 

The rumored deal would be Yakupov to Philly and defensive prospect Travis Sandheim, who was their first round pick in 2014, plus a pick to Edmonton. Given the value of Sanheim the pick would likely be on of Philly’s third or their fourth. This would make sense given Philadelphia’s cluster of defensive prospects and Edmonton’s lack thereof. Sandheim is a great puck moving denseman that shows excellent promise in the future. This would also address the Flyers’ lack of young talented forwards.

 

If the Flyers believe they can turn around Yakupov’s career, this deal may happen. Edmonton may ask for a little more value coming their way given that Yakupov was their 1st overall pick, but with his lack of success in Alberta they’re going to have to settle, or let him walk as a RFA next year.

Islanders Moving on from Okposo: Landing spots


By Bobby Bauders

Senior Writer/Editor

 

Let’s face it, Kyle Okposo is not going to be a New York Islander anymore. This was all but confirmed when in an interview General Manager Garth Snow said they “wish him the best.”

 

Okposo who is now 28 is expected to draw huge interest on July 1st.

 

New York is having a difficult situation with the upcoming flat salary cap. Okposo has spent his entire nine year career with the Islanders organization.

 

In those nine year, Okposo played 529 games earning 139 goals and 369 points. This season he played 79 games, but came short of the 25 goal mark with 22 tallies. This was Okposo’s second most productive season with 64 points. With 11 games played in the playoffs he scored 2 goals and 8 points.

 

There’s always a chance that Snow could trade Okposo’s negotiating rights, but I don’t see that happening.

 

Okposo is going to be a highly scrutinized free agent given the interest coming from teams around the league and the salary he will likely command. Some teams he may end up with are the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Arizona Coyotes. Okposo is likely to garner a $5.5 – $6.5 million cap hit.

 

Minnesota Wild:

The Minnesota Wild are tired of having their hearts broken in the first round. Okposo could just be the combination of scoring and grit to get them to the second round and beyond. Although, Okposo will want a raise from his current contract with the Isles. Minnesota is projected to have about $7.5 million left in cap space. This could potentially leave Minny with only $1 million to sign other free agents.

 

Nashville Predators:

Nashville seems like the most likely option to me. The Predators are projected to have $11.5 million in their cap space. That’s impressive for a team that’s routinely competitive. With Okposo signing that would leave about $5 million to sign any other assets, or to keep on the books for a rainy day. Can you imagine the grit and scoring a line with James Neal, Kyle Okposo and Ryan Johansen? Sick. I could see the Preds in the Western Conference Final with a squad they would have.

 

Florida Panthers:

The Florida Panthers are another front-runner. They an even more impressive cap than Nashville: $20.8 million. That’s insane. Florida could use the extra production and grit to push them even farther through the playoffs. They also have the leadership of Jagr as a negotiation ploy. Not to mention a great young core that Okposo might be interested in signing long term with.

 

Arizona Coyotes:

The Coyotes have a new young 27-year-old GM in John Chayka. What does that mean? It means he’s going to look to make a splash. What better way to splash into the NHL pool than to sign one of the most coveted free agents on the market. Convincing Okposo to sign with the Coyotes may be difficult considering the club’s difficulties on and off the ice. But Chayka may find success in selling Arizona’s bright future to Okposo. Not to mention that he would be a fantastic fit with Head Coach Dave Tippett. Arizona’s cap space is a gigantic $37 million, so cap is not even close to being an issue here. Chayka definitely has spending room.