Standing at an imposing six foot six, Czech native Martin Hanzal is one of the league’s most intimidating players. He has an enormous wingspan, and is known for being one of the more powerful two-way players. How much do you already know about the team’s alternate captain, though?
Drafted 17th overall in the first round by the Coyotes back in 2005, Hanzal was brand new to North American Hockey when the Coyotes took a chance on him. His season with the Omaha Lancers in 2005-2006 was actually his first time skating with a team outside of the Czech Republic. He had intuitive playmaking skills, though, and knew how to use his size to his advantage. It became clear pretty quickly that he would be one of the team’s few first-rounders who would go on to do big things with the team.
After one year with the Lancers and a sophomore season with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, Hanzal made his way directly onto the Coyotes’ roster in 2007, skating in 71 of the team’s 82 games that season. His eight goals seemed parse in comparison to the twenty-six he had in his 2006-2007 run with the Rebels, but the centerman continued to outshine high scorers when it came to making plays. In contrast to his eight goals during that rookie season, Martin Hanzal chipped in with 27 assists.
Over the next two years, it seemed that the young forward was only getting better. He remained consistent, but seemed to find his stride.
Joining the team for 72 games in his second season and 81 games in his third, it seemed clear that Hanzal was going to be one of the team’s big stars. He also broke the double digit mark for scoring both seasons, bringing home eleven goals each year, and continued to bring home twenty-plus assists. He also scored the fastest hat trick in Coyotes history on December 4, 2008, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It took him only 20 minutes and 27 seconds of play time to score all three goals.
Hanzal has had a number of other impressive games and goals, but the one most fans will remember above all else happened on April 12, 2012, just six months after being named the team’s alternate captain. Does anyone else remember this?
For those who hadn’t watched, Martin Hanzal scored the overtime winner- against the Chicago Blackhawks, nonetheless- in the first game of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The team would go on to advance to the Conference Final that season, which was farther than the team had ever made it in franchise history.
While Hanzal has been an impressive player for the Coyotes, though, he might be the poster child for unachieved potential. Since his 81-game season with the desert dogs back when he was only 21, the forward hasn’t appeared in more than 65 games a season.
Despite this, though, it’s clear that Hanzal is a dedicated, physical presence on the ice. Should he manage to stay healthy for more than 3/4 of a season, it seems likely that the Czech native will make a big impact for his team this upcoming year.