Coyotes ‘hope we can make a deal’ with trade target Vermette


Three weeks ago, we welcomed Antoine Vermette to the trade rumor mill on the heels of a report from Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, which explained the “in limbo” Vermette was “trying really hard” not to think about his uncertain future.

Today, the Arizona Republic dug deeper into Vermette’s murky situation:

The Coyotes hope they’re able to retain Vermette, whom they initially acquired via trade in 2012. Since an extension wasn’t reached before the season, contract talks have been tabled for now.

[GM Don] Maloney is also awaiting for clarity on the team’s budget, which he expects will come once Andrew Barroway’s addition to the ownership group is approved by the NHL.

“He’s an important player for us, and we hope we can make a deal that makes sense for both parties,” Maloney said.

Vermette’s situation is complex. It’s no surprise the Coyotes want to keep him; he’s a talented, two-way center that’s durable (hasn’t missed a game in six years) and still only 32 years old. He led Arizona in goals last year, with 24, and played nearly 20 minutes a night.

He’s been very good this season as well. Vermette currently leads the Coyotes in scoring (16 points in 23 games) and has reportedly drawn interest from a number of teams across the league as the arms race for center depth continues.

And that’s the rub.

Heading into free agency this summer, Vermette will likely get a raise on the $3.75 million he made annually on his last deal. That could put Arizona in a difficult spot — aside from an uncertain financial future and new ownership coming aboard, the club could finally go all-in on the proposed youth movement Maloney wanted to implement this season, but pulled back on prior to the start of the campaign.

The Coyotes have spent two recent first-round picks on centers — Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson — and it’s possible both could be with the team next season… if there are spots available. Martin Hanzal probably isn’t going anywhere (under contract through ’17) and Sam Gagner is on the books through 2016, which means Vermette might have more value to Arizona as a trade chip at the deadline, rather than a roster player beyond this season.

No hearing scheduled for Hanzal after Johnson hit


Arizona forward Martin Hanzal doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled following his hit on Colorado’s Erik Johnson Tuesday night, a NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Hanzal caught Johnson with a high hit while the Avs blueliner was reaching for a puck early in overtime:

Johnson left immediately and didn’t return, and here was no penalty on the play. Following the game, Avs head coach Patrick Roy said Johnson was “doing well” but, shortly thereafter, the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers followed up with this:

Hanzal appears to have avoided punishment despite his reputation as a repeat offender. Last season, he was fined for a high stick on then-Canucks forward David Booth; Hanzal was also suspended two games for charging Oilers d-man Jeff Petry.

Though disciplinary matters are often quickly attended to, the league reserves the right to schedule a hearing with Hanzal later if it so chooses. Arizona doesn’t play again until Saturday night.

Avs erase 3-0 deficit to edge Coyotes 4-3


Antoine Vermette, Michael Stone and Tobias Rieder scored first period goals for the Arizona Coyotes chasing Colorado Avalanche starter Reto Berra after three goals on eight shots.

However, it was all Colorado after that.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog got the visitors on the board in the second period. Landeskog added his second of the night, and sixth of the season, in the third to pull the Avs to within one. Matt Duchene tied the game 3-3 at 4:05 of the third.

After hitting Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson with an elbow to the head early in overtime, Martin Hanzal put the puck into his own net for the overtime-winner, which was credited to Daniel Briere.

“We were resilient tonight. I think that is the story of the night,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said post-game. “Down 0- 3 and coming back. Like I said to the guys, ‘lets go and win the second period’ and see where we are after.

“I mean all last year I was reading a lot of comments on how resilient we were and we were playing with no fear. We were always going at the other team and that’s what we did.”

Roy did not have an update on Johnson, who may have suffered a concussion on the play.

Pickard was perfect in relief making 25 saves for his second win of the season and second win in as many games. The 22-year-old rookie stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief on Saturday in the Avs 4-3 win over Carolina.

Asked post-game if he had to tell Semyon Varlamov he had a new No. 1 goaltender, Roy had a good laugh.

“I guess so. We’re going to go with Pickard tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a tough stretch right now for Reto and unfortunately for him… but good for us Calvin’s playing well.”

Video: Hanzal with an elbow to the head of Erik Johnson


Martin Hanzal caught Avs’ defenseman Erik Johnson with an elbow to the head early in overtime Tuesday night.

Johnson was reaching on the play and Hanzal connected with the Avs’ blue liner in vulnerable position.

There was no penalty on the play.

Johnson left the game and did not return.

Hanzal could be hearing from NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Stephane Quintal, as he has quite the rap sheet.

Last season alone Hanzal was fined for a high stick on then Canucks forward David Booth. He was also suspended two games for a charging penalty he received for a hit on Jeff Petry.

During the 2012 playoffs Hanzal was suspended one game for a hit on the Kings’ Dustin Brown.

Hanzal, Dubnyk’s big nights help Coyotes crush Canucks


The Vancouver Canucks have been one of the NHL’s best comeback stories so far this season, but that wasn’t reflected in their play tonight. Martin Hanzal had a hat trick and Devan Dubnyk posted a 35-save shutout to lead the Arizona Coyotes to a 5-0 victory.

Hanzal found the back of the net in the first period to give the Coyotes the early lead despite the fact that they were outshot 12-3 through 20 minutes. Hanzal then broke this game open with back-to-back goals roughly nine seconds apart in the second period.

The hat trick goal had to sting for Miller, especially seeing as he felt the previous goal was scored on a high stick:

“I’m disappointed in that call,” Miller said, according to the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford. “The ref didn’t see it. I looked over and he wasn’t even looking.”

Regardless, it was Hanzal’s second career hat trick. His first was on Dec. 4, 2008, per the Coyotes’ Dave Vest.

Shane Doan scored in the final seconds of the second frame to add insult to injury.

The Coyotes suffered a scare when defenseman Keith Yandle left the game late in the first period after falling and crashing foot first into the end boards. He returned though and finished the contest with a goal and two assists.

This was also a big game for Dubnyk, who earned his first shutout since Dec. 27, 2013. He now has a 2.54 GAA and .913 save percentage in five games this season and given Mike Smith’s shaky play so far, it’ll be interesting to see if Dubnyk starts to play more.

Vancouver will get some time off to regroup before playing Edmonton on Wednesday.