Martin Hanzal

Martin Hanzal signs five-year extension with Coyotes for $15.5 million; Turris anyone?

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The Coyotes aren’t exactly the most spend-crazy team in the NHL, but when it comes to taking care of one of their own players, they’re doing their part to keep him happy and locked up in Phoenix.

No, we don’t mean Kyle Turris either.

The Coyotes signed top centerman Martin Hanzal to a five-year extension to make sure he doesn’t leave the warm confines of Jobing.com Arena for more than a while. John Shannon of SportsNet in Canada reports that the deal is worth $15.5 million over the five years, good for a nice and easy salary cap hit of $3.1 million over the course of the deal.

Over Hanzal’s career in Phoenix, he’s been a steady two-way center for them equally capable of playing strong offensively and defending against the opponents’ top centers. Last year Hanzal dealt with some injury troubles but when he was on the ice, he was playing his best hockey. Hanzal had 16 goals and 10 assists in 61 games last season, good for the best goal-scoring season of his career. The scoring numbers aren’t gaudy but Hanzal is the best center they have on the team at the moment.

With such a good deal signed, it makes us wonder what unsigned restricted free agent Kyle Turris thinks of all this. Turris has been in a dispute all offseason with the Coyotes over getting a new deal done and it’s a dispute where an end isn’t in sight. It’s rumored that Turris wants a monster money deal to stay in Phoenix which would be something GM Don Maloney and the cash-strapped Coyotes could not go along with.

While discussions are still ongoing, Turris’ demands or wont to get out of Phoenix (whatever the case may be) could help bring this situation to a head. Don’t count on the Coyotes blinking first though. Seeing what Hanzal came to an agreement on with Phoenix seems to be where the bar should be set for the as yet unproven Turris should ask for from Phoenix, but we all know that’s not always how these things work. Let’s just hope that Turris has a great offseason workout program because he’s going to abuse it while he waits on a new deal.

For now, the Coyotes are beyond ecstatic to get Hanzal locked up before becoming a restricted free agent after this season. Doing it while boosting their cap hit on him by just $1.3 million dollars (his hit is $1.8 million this year) is shrewd negotiating at its best.

Video: Simmonds drops the gloves with Wood

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Wayne Simmonds is not only a productive power forward, but he’s one tough customer.

He showed that again Saturday, dropping the gloves with Miles Wood of the New Jersey Devils during the first period.

The fight occurred right after Wood drove Radko Gudas hard into the boards on the forecheck. The scrap didn’t last long, however, with Simmonds landing a few shots and then taking the Devils forward to the ice.

Simmonds was assessed an extra roughing minor.

We have a (minor league) trade to announce

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Michael Latta #17 of the Los Angeles Kings during a preseason game at Staples Center on September 28, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings have made a minor league trade on Saturday.

The Blackhawks acquired forward Michael Latta, who has 113 games of NHL experience with the Washington Capitals, in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta will report to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, according to the Blackhawks. In 29 games this season with the Ontario Reign, Latta has two goals and six points.

Schilling, 28, is expected to be assigned to the Reign, the team said in a release.

In 40 games this season with the IceHogs, Schilling has seven goals and 17 points.

Singing the Blues: St. Louis continues recent skid

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Make that three straight losses for the St. Louis Blues, who have only four wins in their last 10 games.

The Blues lost to the Winnipeg Jets by a final score of 5-3 on Saturday. Late attempts at a comeback from four goals down were fleeting and unsuccessful. Once in competition for the Central Division, St. Louis has fallen off the pace in these times of struggle and is now part of the pack fighting for a wild card spot in the West.

In the last three games, the Blues have given up 18 goals. Eighteen goals.

That is highly uncharacteristic of a Ken Hitchcock-coached team, and the Blues have been one of the stingiest clubs in the NHL over the last five years. Jake Allen‘s struggles have been well documented and he didn’t even travel with the team to Winnipeg.

These are difficult times for the Blues, who turned to Pheonix Copley, who had never started an NHL game before today, in goal versus the Jets.

Despite giving up five goals on 29 shots, Hitchcock praised the play of Copley. And he likes the amount of scoring chances his team is producing. But their own mistakes keep piling up, and they keep piling into the St. Louis net at what is now an alarming rate.

The Blues trailed 2-1 entering the third period, but gave up a Bryan Little power play goal just over two minutes later and they fell further behind. It was a critical moment in the game for St. Louis. The floodgates opened from there for the Jets.

“We left the game out there ,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“It’s tough. Quite frankly, we’re allowing too many goals against, obviously. Too many easy scoring chances. We’re getting scored on killing penalties now. If we clean up our own end, both five-on-five and five-on-four, it will help us a lot.”

Desjardins: Horvat is ‘fine’ after taking a slap shot to the head

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Before the celebration of Henrik Sedin reaching 1,000 career points, there was plenty of concern for one of the Canucks’ top young players.

Late in the first period, Bo Horvat was skating behind the Florida net when he was struck in the back of the head by a Nikita Tryamkin slap shot. Horvat immediately hit the ice. He was down for a brief period, but did skate off under his own power.

The good news: He returned to the game after missing a brief time.

On Saturday, the Canucks sent out a photo showing the damage Horvat suffered — a fairly large cut to the back of his head, which required several stitches.

“I would assume he was forced out by the spotter,” said coach Willie Desjardins following Vancouver’s win on Friday. “Whenever you see something like that, you’ll probably check it out, especially if he was bleeding.”

“They took a look at him and he’s fine.”

More good news for the Canucks.

In his third NHL season, Horvat is emerging as a critical component of this team. He’s 21 years old, is tied with Henrik for the team lead in points, with 30 in 47 games, and is on his way to next weekend’s NHL All-Star event. Further to that, the Canucks are in a transition, with a younger core expected to eventually take over from the lasting members of the current core, most notably Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who are both 36 years old.

The Canucks are also in a fight for a playoff spot, and injury to one of their top centers, which Horvat is, would certainly make the hunt for the post-season that much more difficult.

Sitting one point out of the second wild card spot in the West, the Canucks begin a three-game road trip by facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.