Dallas Stars Make Unexpected Splash In Free Agency, Sign Martin Hanzal

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18: Martin Hanzal
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18: Martin Hanzal /

The Dallas Stars made a big and unexpected splash this morning, signing forward Martin Hanzal to a three-year deal.

Sometimes the offseason can hit you in an unexpected way. Jim Nill always enjoys making his deals behind the curtain, and every once in a while he will conjure one up that no one expects.

He did that this morning by signing veteran forward Martin Hanzal to a three-year deal worth $14.25 million. That’s an average AAV of $4.75 million, which will make him the fourth-highest paid forward on the team and the seventh-highest on the team.

Where did this move even come from? Why did the Stars make it? Is that a good price for a 30-year-old Hanzal? Where will he fit in the lineup?

There are a lot of questions in play with this move.

More from Dallas Stars News

Through ten NHL seasons, Hanzal has played in 628 games and scored 121 goals along with 326 total points. He has spent his entire career in the desert with the Arizona Coyotes besides a brief stint with Minnesota during the last few months of last season after being traded at the deadline.

Some positives that stick out about him up front are his size, face-off numbers and possession skills.

Hanzal is unusually large for a forward, weighing in at 6’6, 226 lb. That’s massive for a center and means that he can definitely pack a punch.

He’s also a monster in the face-off dot. In today’s NHL, winning 51 or 52 percent of your face-offs means you’re a quality center. Over the past four years, Hanzal has never dipped below 54.5 percent in the dot. That’s unbelievable.

And that also translates into possession time. Hanzal’s ability to win both offensive and defensive zone draws gives his team the opportunity to set up in the offensive zone and keep a rush alive.

The only glaring problem with Hanzal is his proneness to injury. He’s only played an average of 59 games a year over the past four seasons and seems to have a problem staying healthy.

Next: Three Things To Watch For On First Day Of Free Agency

Overall, this is definitely a quality move for the Stars, though the contract may be a bit pricey. A $4.75 million cap hit is awfully large for a 30-year-old player who will probably play on the second line and has trouble staying healthy. But if he can stay off the IR, he could be a quality scoring center that can help out on the offensive rush and the PK.

This was unexpected, but could also be considered a pleasant surprise. Stay tuned for more.