There’s a youth movement going on in Arizona, so it’s not entirely surprising to hear veteran center Martin Hanzal pop up in trade rumors.
On Thursday, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels was told Hanzal “could be on the move soon,” adding the Canadiens were one of the teams in the hunt.
Engels’ report came on the heels of another Sportsnet analyst — Elliotte Friedman — touching on Hanzal’s availability in his most recent 30 Thoughts column:
Arizona has told teams that pending unrestricted free agent Martin Hanzal will not be dealt unless the Coyotes receive a young player who can step in now.
The preference is a centre. It sounds like there’s quite a bit of interest. Could see San Jose and St. Louis being among them. Fits what both need and both do.
Hanzal, who turns 30 in February, has four points through 10 games this year, missing time with a lower-body injury. Health has been a major issue for the big Czech — he stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds — and, over the last two years, he’s missed 63 games due to various ailments.
But when healthy, Hanzal can be very effective.
Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.
Financially speaking, Hanzal has appeal. He’s in the last of a five-year, $15.5 million deal with a very affordable $3.1M average annual cap hit.
Given that price point and the need for big, workhorse centers across the league, one can expect the bidding for Hanzal to be pretty high, and aggressive.
But it could also be why the Coyotes would like to keep him in the fold.