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One of the teams that will definitely be active before next week’s NHL Trade Deadline will be the Arizona Coyotes. With four pending unrestricted free agents on the roster, GM John Chayka’s phone will be busy.
Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal, the team’s two leading scoring forwards, are the leading contenders to be dealt. Chayka said on a conference call with reporters Monday night following the Michael Stone trade that he’s looking for both draft picks and young roster players that fit with their lineup in any potential trade.
The bonus structure in Vrbata’s contract make him an interesting acquisition for a team. As Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports laid out last month, the 35-year-old hit a pair of $500,000 bonuses already this season for playing 30 games and reaching 40 points. There’s also $1.25 million in playoff bonuses that could come his way depending on how long his season lasts should he play in the playoffs. Any team that deals for him would be required to pay that all out.
Chayka said he hasn’t made a determination yet on Hanzal. There is a chance he could re-sign the 30-year-old center. While he waits to see where his future takes him, Hanzal has played real well for the Coyotes, scoring five times in his last six games to put himself one goal away from his career high of 16.
Per Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic, as of last week Hanzal said he had yet to receive any type of extension offer from the Coyotes, the only franchise he’s ever known.
“I’ve been here. I like it here,” he said. “But the bottom line is I don’t have a contract for next season, and we’re two weeks away from the deadline. So it’s going to happen one way or the other. Obviously, I’ll be happy with whatever happens because this is hockey and if they move me, I’ll probably have a chance to win a Stanley Cup. That’s another upside, right? So we’ll see.”
Is Hanzal part of the Coyotes’ long-term future? That’s the decision Chayka will have to make over the next week.
“Just trying to balance short-term, long-term options with Marty and find a solution that works with everybody,” he said.
This would be the first time in his career that Hanzal experiences UFA status, should be make it to July 1 unsigned. His play of late will certainly help him get a nice contract, but will it be in Arizona?
“He’s one of our most impactful players when he’s playing like he can, and he’s been playing that way of late, so certainly credit to him because I know it’s not easy to do with his situation,” Chayka said. “But at the same time he’s a pro, he understands the business and he knows he’s playing for a contract next year as well, so he’s trying to do everything he can to maximize his value, so credit to him.”
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