Martin Hanzal's NHL career to this point has been marred by a relentless penchant for injury, and even though he actually cracked 70 games for the first time since 2009-10 last year, the result was an unimpressive 39 points accompanied by a minus-17 rating. He did, however, score at a noticeably better rate after being dealt to Minnesota from his long-time home in Arizona at the trade deadline -- 13 points in 20 games. The Stars saw enough there to sign the 30-year-old to a three-year deal, and he'll likely begin the season as the No. 3 center behind Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. This is the perfect role for Hanzal, who's always excelled more as a checking-line center than a scorer, and playing on a deep team will take much of the pressure off him. Hanzal's never gotten to share an NHL bench with the kind of star power Dallas boasts, but that means he'll have to deal with depth-line minutes and meager power-play time, though that reduced usage may at least help him get through the season in good health.
Hanzal (ankle) is expected to begin skating Thursday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports. The offseason signing has yet to take the ice with his new team, as the team wants to be cautious about his return. The report doesn't clarify whether Hanzal will begin practicing Thursday, or if he'll just be taking the ice to get comfortable with skating. Expect further update later this week.
Hanzal won't participate in training camp with the Stars due to an ankle sprain. According to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, the club is just being cautious with its newly acquired pivot, but it's nonetheless disconcerting to see Hanzal nursing an injury before official team activities have even begun. The Stars' first preseason contest is scheduled for Sept. 19 against the Blues, but there's no guarantee Hanzal will be ready for that contest at this point.
Hanzal signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract with the Stars on Saturday, TSN reports. The Wild pried Hanzal away from the Coyotes ahead of the 2017 trade deadline, and he proceeded to post 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 20 games; while that's certainly a small sample size, it counted as a modest bump in production compared to the near half-point-per game pace he recorded in 10 years with the 'Yotes. Still, acquiring the pivot as a rental player wasn't enough, as Minnesota lost in the conference quarterfinals of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The Stars were strong down the middle even before this move, but as speculated by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, bringing on Hanzal could result in head coach Ken Hitchcock shifting Jason Spezza over to the right wing. For now, we're viewing the Hanzal transaction as a linear move in terms of fantasy value, and staying healthy -- he's never played all 82 games of a given campaign -- just might remain the biggest influence on his fantasy stock entering the 2017-18 campaign.
Hanzal's first goal of the playoffs was the insurance marker in Wednesday's Game 4 win against the Blues. Hanzal skated a little past the blue line before firing a wrist shot that went underneath Jake Allen's blocker, giving him his first playoff goal since 2012. It was a goal that Allen should've prevented, but the Wild will certainly take it, having had trouble scoring all series. Hanzal's commitment to two-way play and low offensive ceiling prevent him from being a reliable scorer, so his fantasy value continues to be limited.
Hanzal finished with a goal and an assist Tuesday against the Capitals. Both of Hanzal's points came in the second period of what was ultimately a 5-4 overtime loss. He's contributed a healthy nine points in 14 games since coming over from Arizona at the trade deadline, though Minnesota's 2-8-2 record over the past 12 indicates the team hasn't been able to take advantage of the veteran center's production.
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