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Free Agent Spotlight: Should the Hurricanes Be Wild for Martin Hanzal?

The 30-year-old center brings fight and consistency, but does he fit the Canes’ needs?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It had been all Phoenix heat for Martin Hanzal since he was drafted by the Coyotes in 2005, but when Minnesota was willing to give up first- and second-round picks for the big Czech center, he moved to the icy land of the Wild as the playoffs approached. He scored 13 points in 20 games to cap off his regular season with the Wild, and scored a goal in one of his five postseason appearances this playoffs.

In the end, the Wild were eliminated in the first round by the St. Louis Blues, and the Hanzal trade would be a moment of pause for the team. Now, is he worth the Hurricanes trying to bring him to the heat of the Carolinas next season?

Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 30
  • 2016-17 Season: 20 goals, 19 assists, 39 points
  • Career (PHX/ARI, MIN): 121 goals, 205 assists, 326 points in 628 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 50.5% Corsi For, 97.2 PDO, 42.5% zone starts, 46.2% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $1,550,000
  • Contract Ending: Ended at finish of 2016-2017 season; UFA in 2017-2018.

The Case For:

Hanzal is known to Arizona fans as one of the hardest workers on the ice. He was named an alternate captain in 2011 at the age of 24. After undergoing a season-ending back surgery in February of 2015, Hanzal came back in 2016 and gave the Coyotes 26 points in 51 games before being dealt to the Wild.

Hanzal’s stats show his hard work as well, especially recently. His faceoff percentages are high (above 55 percent for the past four seasons). He scores well enough to be a second-line center for a team like the Hurricanes, as he was for the Coyotes, though Victor Rask has been great with his second-line center performance as young as he is.

It’s hard to say that Hanzal is at the peak of his career — he’s been pretty consistent in terms of point production. But it certainly feels like he’s got a few more years of near-40-point hockey to play. I mean, Shane Doan seemed pretty pissed that Hanzal was being dealt to the Wild, saying “you can’t really replace him.” That’s high praise.

The Case Against:

The real downside, for me, is that there’s nothing remarkable about Hanzal. And while I don’t necessarily think that the only thing that will push the Hurricanes into contention is one remarkable player, I just worry that we may pull a Minnesota — first- and second-round picks for a few games with Hanzal??? — in trying to pick up who, for now, seems to be the best UFA center (Joe Thornton’s injuries knock him from number one). Sure, it would be good to tab Derek Ryan — same age, lesser results — for the third-line center spot, but only for the right price.

Also, the Wild fans cried that he slowed them down in the postseason, but I don’t know if I buy that (they’re just salty that Jake Allen shut the entire team down).

The Final Verdict:

I like Hanzal. I think he’s a safe option, but only for a safe price. I could see the Canes giving away draft picks if need be, since we have some really good young players already, but we aren’t desperate for a Hanzal, I don’t think. What I do think the Canes need that he has is the consistency and the work ethic on this ice, something along the lines of Brock McGinn in the last game of 2017 (I know, Bickell took over the spotlight and rightly so, but rewatch it and keep an eye on McGinn).