Days before the trade deadline, the Minnesota Wild traded for Martin Hanzal and Ryan White with hopes that the extra center depth could help lead the team to a deep playoff run. The Wild were eliminated in the first round, but that doesn’t take anything away from Hanzal, who did everything that was asked of him well.
In total, the Wild sent Grayson Downing, their 2017 1st round pick, their 2018 2nd round pick, and their 2019 4th round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Hanzal, White, and the Coyotes 2019 4th round pick. Initially, the price seems pretty high for a third line center and bad fourth line winger, but as our own Tony Abbott discussed, Hanzal was well worth the price. Further, considering the Wild were able to get away without losing any of their decent prospects following the 2017 World Juniors Championship, the price for Hanzal and White wasn’t so bad.
We only got to know Hanzal for 20 regular season games before the playoffs, where he played an additional 5 games. He only scored once in the playoffs, but Hanzal scored quite well given his role and time in the regular season as he scored 4 goals and 13 points in those 20 games. If you add up his whole season to include his time in Arizona, Hanzal scored 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points in 71 games.
Before Hanzal came, the Wild were having to play Charlie Coyle at center again as Erik Haula wasn’t finding much success and the 4th line center role was regularly changed. Hanzal helped solidify the Wild’s bottom six down the stretch, which helped the Wild play more consistently as they approached the playoffs. By improving the Wild’s third line, Hanzal was also able to improve the Wild’s fourth line by pushing down Haula and later Joel Eriksson-Ek.
Mikko Koivu took the brunt of defensive and overall important faceoffs through most of the season, and Hanzal was able to help lighten the load while he was here. More than just faceoffs, Hanzal contributed well to the Wild’s team defense and penalty kill with his size and positioning.
During the Wild’s slump throughout March, Hanzal took a lot of blame from the media and fans for ruining the team’s chemistry. As Joe Bouley and Tony Abbott have both explained, Hanzal helped the Wild play better and more consistently. The Wild controlled much more of the play once Hanzal was on the team.
At 30 years old, Hanzal is likely looking for as big a contract as he can get on a long term deal this summer. The team would certainly be better with Hanzal than without, but this probably puts him outside of the Wild’s price range and long term plans as Eriksson-Ek and Luke Kunin should both be playing regular NHL minutes within a few years.
Best of luck to Martin Hanzal if we’ve seen the last of him in a Wild uniform.