Martin Hanzal has long been one of the most important players on the Arizona Coyotes’ roster. Now, however, the team is staring down the barrel of having to trade their top centerman.
Martin Hanzal has spent his entire career with the Arizona Coyotes.
He’s played in Sedona red, with #11 on his back since he cracked the NHL.
Within the next two weeks, the colors and the number might be different. Hanzal might be making his way to a contender while the Coyotes flounder in 29th position in the standings.
The 29-year-old Czech is one of the hottest commodities on the NHL trade market.
Able to slot in as a capable second line center or an exceptional third line pivot, Hanzal’s size and style make him a perfect fit for teams gearing up to chase a Stanley Cup.
Hanzal is the straw that stirs the drink for the Yotes’ offense, though his mark is often made indirectly instead of directly on the scoresheet. He’s never scored more than 41 points despite his importance and deployment as the franchise’s de facto top center.
While he doesn’t put up a lot of points, Hanzal has already scored 14 goals this season and his career high is 16. That mark seems likely to fall.
The goal-scoring spurt, including four goals in his last three games, might benefit general manager John Chayka in negotiations. Buyers, like the Arizona Coyotes themselves, are probably not entirely convinced by Hanzal, however.
The biggest reason is his durability.
Hanzal has never played a full season in the NHL and though relatively healthy this year, he’s already missed nine games this season as well.
There’s no guarantee that Hanzal will arrive at his new destination and survive the grind of up to four potential playoff series with all of the nicks and knocks he tends to pick up.
That durability issue has likely precluded him getting a deal done in Arizona, and it could hamper Chayka’s efforts to extract value from Hanzal on the trade market despite his upside.
It will be Chayka’s hope that teams weigh his size, face-off prowess, and ability to provide depth scoring over his nagging injury concerns.
There have been several teams rumored to be interested in the 6’6 center.
Chayka reportedly asked the Canadiens for Michael McCarron and two picks (one a first-rounder) earlier in the season. Montreal is, or was, definitely interested in Hanzal, but they may be aiming bigger fish now.
ESPN Insider Craig Custance suggested that the Yotes could trade Hanzal to Chicago for Nick Schmaltz and other assets. Blackhawks faithful immediately decried the trade idea, but no one is buying Stan Bowman’s statement that he’ll likely sit out the trade deadline.
Whether Hanzal ends up on one of those contenders or another is up in the air, but it seems clear that John Chayka, Dave Tippett, and the organization are looking to move Hanzal and others for future assets while they can.
If the Yotes aren’t prepared to sign him at a comfortable number today, that’s the smart play whether or not #11 returns to the desert as a free agent.
Arizona will miss the presence and contribution of Martin Hanzal in the locker room and on the ice.
They would miss the assets they didn’t get for him should he walk for free even more.