The Minnesota Wild pushed all of their chips into the middle of the table on Sunday night when they acquired one of the biggest fish on the market in Martin Hanzal.
The Wild landed Hanzal as well as depth forward Ryan White from Arizona in exchange for a 2017 1st round pick, a 2018 2nd round pick and a conditional pick in 2019 that could be as a high as a 2nd rounder.
There are a lot of layers to get to here so allow me to offer some thoughts from the perspective of each side.
Why the Minnesota Wild made the trade
– The Western Conference is wide open this season. Perennial powerhouses such as Chicago, Anaheim and St. Louis, among others, have noticeable holes and don’t seem as formidable as they once were. All those teams are still good, maybe even very good, but seem a lot more beatable. If the Wild feel they have a shot, and they should, now is the time to beef up the roster.
– Hanzal’s offensive game is overrated — his production has been more so due to an abundance of ice time than being efficient with it — but he is a capable middle-6 producer and his defensive game is excellent. With Hanzal in the mix, the Wild now have a 1-2-3 punch down the middle featuring three responsible two-way centers capable of driving possession in himself, Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu. The Wild can be comfortable with any of those guys on the ice in any situation and with Hanzal in the mix takes some of the load off Staal and Koivu. That’s huge. If you’re forced to ride your top guys, it’s only a matter of time before they burn out.
– The Wild now have three lines filled with top-6 forwards. It seems like the plan is for Hanzal to center Zach Parise and Jason Pominville on the *3rd* line. Each of those players is producing at a 40+ point clip on an 82-game basis so they have a big leg up in comparison to most 3rd lines.
– The price was certainly high but the Wild managed to land the guy they coveted without giving up a) anyone on their pro roster or; b) any of their prized prospects.
Why the Arizona Coyotes made the trade
– Management can say what it wants, but re-signing Hanzal was never in the cards for them. Hanzal is now 30 years old and will almost certainly be looking for and get, a five or six-year deal. Giving that kind of term to an aging player is a risky proposition and certainly not worth it for a rebuilding team nowhere close to contending.
– Injuries have played a part but Hanzal’s career high is 41 points and he’s only surpassed 40 points twice in nine seasons to date. Giving big money, and term, to a 30-year-old with those kinds of numbers doesn’t make any sense.
– Again, the Coyotes are in a full-fledged rebuild. Hanzal wasn’t going to stick around and, even if he was, a 1st round pick, 2nd and potentially another 2nd are more valuable to the Coyotes future than Hanzal. The time was right to move on and John Chayka did a great job of maximizing the return.
People will say the 2017 draft class isn’t as good as the ones we’ve seen over the last couple years, and that’s true, but I’m pretty sure there will still be some great players to come out of it. The Coyotes now have two 1sts, a 2nd, and two 3rds to try and draft some.
Hanzal is a very useful player but I think the Wild overpaid here. A 1st and potentially two 2nd round picks is a lot to give up for a middle-6 center, especially when his contract expires in a few months. If the Wild go deep into the playoffs and/or get a Stanley Cup the move will be more justifiable but I think the Coyotes did really well getting what they did.
Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)