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Report: Canadiens one of ‘handful of teams’ interested in acquiring Hanzal

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2017, file photo, Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal (11) moves with the puck during the team's NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

The Arizona Coyotes already sent defenseman Michael Stone packing prior to the March 1 trade deadline for draft picks, and there remains a large possibility that he won’t be the only Coyote on the move.

The most likely remaining candidate to be traded, according to many, is center Martin Hanzal.

According to ESPN writer Pierre LeBrun, Arizona has narrowed its potential trade partners for Hanzal “down to a handful of teams.”

The Montreal Canadiens remain in the mix, while the Ottawa Senators have recently inquired, as did the Nashville Predators. But name any contender and it’s likely they have checked in on Hanzal. As I’ve said all season long, the slumping Canadiens make so much sense as a destination for Hanzal, whose 6-foot-6 frame and shutdown talents are things the Habs need down the middle.

The 30-year-old Hanzal becomes a free agent after the season and could be deemed expendable by GM John Chayka if he can be exchanged for future assets.

The Canadiens and Senators are battling for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, as Montreal currently leads the division by two points over Ottawa.

The Predators find themselves fighting for a playoff spot in the West, as their 67 points are tied with the St. Louis Blues for seventh in the conference.

The addition of Hanzal would give any of these teams a solid No. 2 or 3 center down the stretch for their playoff push.

Hanzal was drafted by Coyotes in the first round of the 2005 Draft and has already tied his career-high in goals this season with 16.

The 10-year veteran has also added 10 assists and ranks third on the Coyotes with 26 points.

Arizona, who has the second-fewest points in the NHL with 49, has multiple young prospects at center, including 21-year-old Christian Dvorak and 19-year-old Dylan Strome, although neither seems ready to take over as the Coyotes’ top center.

Along with Jordan Martinook filling in from the wing, Peter Holland, Alexander Burmistrov and Josh Jooris are all recent additions to the group of centers in Arizona.

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