Martin Hanzal was part of a big Dallas Stars offseason that was supposed to vault them back to the playoffs. Along with Alexander Radulov, Marc Methot and Ben Bishop, the team had strengthened their core and were ready to take on the Western Conference. Unfortunately that didn’t happen with the team missing the playoffs entirely, and some may point to Hanzal’s struggles as a big reason why. The 31-year old center played 38 games and recorded just 10 points, dealing with injury basically the entire season.
In Sean Shapiro’s new piece for The Athletic (subscription required) he goes deep into how a serious back injury affected Hanzal’s play, and how he’s hoping to be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season. The surgery came with a six to nine month recovery timeline, that puts him on track from anywhere between training camp and a good chunk of the way into the season. As Shapiro puts it, Hanzal is “cautiously optimistic” about a return to form, something that would be a huge boost since the Stars still owe him $9MM over the next two seasons.
- Carl Grundstrom is on his way back to the Toronto Marlies for another playoff run, as the young Swedish forward was re-assigned from Frolunda today by the Maple Leafs. Grundstrom, a second-round pick in 2016, played six games for the Marlies last spring before heading back to Sweden for one more year. The 20-year old is expected to come to North America full-time in 2018-19, where he could even challenge for a place on the Maple Leafs in training camp. Grundstrom once again showed off his ability to score goals this year, notching 17 in 35 games for his club team.
- Another Swede, Johan Larsson, isn’t as excited about his future in North America. The Buffalo Sabres forward spoke to Swedish reporter Sven Gustafsson and explained that he is tired of the situation, and will wait to see what the team has in store for him. Larsson is under contract for another season, but with personnel changes expected in Buffalo after another season at the bottom of the standings, his future for the team is far from secure. Larsson hasn’t turned into the two-way, middle-six center many had hoped he would become, scoring just four goals and 17 points this season.