Habs Eyeing Martin Hanzal


Getting to the top is one thing. Staying there is another. No NHL team knows that better than the Montreal Canadiens, who have had stellar starts in four consecutive seasons and as we were able to notice last season, the fall can be damaging… very damaging.

It’s no secret that Habs’ General Manager Marc Bergevin is working the phones… hard. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were informed that he was looking for a Top-4 defenseman to be paired with Shea Weber. While nothing has yet to happen on that front, it would be a mistake to think that it’s not still the case.

However, the offensive struggles from not one, but two centres may have added to Bergevin’s wish list as Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais have disappointed so far this season. Perhaps adding (or making some change) at the centre position might not be a bad idea and Sportsnet’s Eric Engels didn’t do anything to shut down the talks around Montreal (not that it takes much) with this tweet:

What is Hanzal’s value?

According to Elliott Friedman, also from Sportsnet, the asking price from the Coyotes is likely a young NHL-ready forward, preferably a centre. Now preferably doesn’t mean that it must be a centre. If they get an offer that they feel they can’t refuse, they’ll go for it.

But what Friedman is saying is to forget trading Plekanec or Desharnais in a package deal. To be honest, I doubt the Coyotes would have any interest in either player but between the two, Desharnais could be a cap dump in a trade if the Canadiens give up a player that the desert dogs would really want.

The truth is that only Coyotes’ GM John Chayka and perhaps the teams with which he has had discussions with know the asking price. This won’t stop people from speculating however. As fans, people have as many opinions are there are options out there when trying to determine a player’s value on the trade market and even when the trade is announced, you often have people at both spectrum disagreeing on who got the best in the deal.

Here’s what we know… Hanzal:

  • will turn 30 on February 20th
  • stands at 6-foot 6-inches and weights in at 226 lbs
  • is a left-handed centre who has 2 goals and 2 assists in 10 games this season
  • had a career-high 41 points (13 goals) last season
  • has scored more than 15 goals in a season once, back in 2010-2011 with 16
  • has won 55-56% of his faceoffs in the last 3 seasons
  • averages 1.9 hits per game, which would place him… 2nd behind Andrew Shaw on the Habs
  • comes with a cap hit of $3.1 million and is scheduled to become a UFA after this season
  • has a modified no trade clause where he must submit a 7 team no trade list

Basically, if Habs’ fans are hoping for an offensive juggernaut, they are very much mistaken. He’s a very good 3rd line centre who can fill-in from time to time on the second line. But he’s big, he uses his body and he’s good on faceoffs.

Hudon called up

Charles Hudon

The Canadiens called up Sven Adrighetto recently and they played him. On Thursday, they announced that they had called up Charles Hudon and if the rumours about Montreal and Arizona are true, don’t think it’s a coincidence. Hudon is 7th in AHL scoring with 14 points (9 goals) in 15 games so far with the IceCaps and he has been hot lately. Yes, the Canadiens could use his offensive flair while Alexander Radulov is recuperating from his illness, but the timing to showcase a young centre in the organisation is quite good.

If Hudon does well, he could be a very interesting option for the Coyotes if they insist of a centre. Chances are though that the Habs will need to shed some salary so perhaps insisting on sending Desharnais, whose contract also expires at the end of the season, would be a valuable option. But it’s Hanzal we’re talking about here, not a top-end player so forget Michael McCarron or Nikita Scherbak.

Unless… what if Bergevin surprised us all and made a bigger trade and got that Top-4 defenseman along with Hanzal in the same deal? I’ll let you run your imagination on that one. Go Habs Go!

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