Preview: Coyotes vs. Ducks, 6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes will try to bounce back from a 4-1 loss to San Jose when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night at Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes (20-30-7) are 0-2-1 in their first three meetings this season against the Ducks.
Center Martin Hanzal scored the only goal for Arizona in Saturday’s loss. It was his team-leading 15th goal on the season, fifth in five games and moved him one short of matching his career high.
Hanzal is unsigned beyond this season, and he figures to be a top target of playoff-contending teams in the final two weeks before the trade deadline.
“Martin Hanzal is as good as they come when it comes to a matchup center against other teams’ top lines,” Chayka said. “He plays that hard, heavy game that is playoff hockey, and he’s been excellent for us lately. Teams that want to win Stanley Cups, they want Martin Hanzal in their lineup.”
Chayka said the conversations he had held with GMs up until this week were largely exploratory, but with just over a week left before the deadline, that has changed.
“I think we’re now starting to look to execute on different opportunities,” Chayka said. “There’s a deadline in place, and that’s kind of what makes people act.”
The Coyotes have other potential trade targets as well, including forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Michael Stone. Vrbata leads the team with 40 points and has one assists in each of the past five games, but he’s gone 11 games without a goal.
Anaheim enters the game as a potential player at the trade deadline, too. The Ducks could be both a buyer and a seller.
The Ducks could use a little more scoring up front as they try to solidify a playoff spot, but they also possess enviable depth on their blue line. Teams have inquired about that depth.
“The phone has started to ring,” general manager Bob Murray told the Orange County Register.
The Ducks signed defenseman Sami Vatanen to a four-year extension last summer for nearly $20 million. They have physical presence Josh Manson under contract through next season. Young players Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour are signed through next season, and prospect Jacob Larsson is still playing in Sweden.
All of those defensemen are 25 or younger, as is Cam Fowler, 25. Strong play this season (11 goals, 30 points) suggests Fowler won’t be going anywhere despite widespread interest.
Whatever Murray decides to do, he insists he won’t be looking for players with expiring contracts in return.
“Any young player deal would be a hockey deal,” Murray said, “not a rental.”
The Coyotes will again play without rookie wing Lawson Crouse, who was placed on the injured-reserve list this weekend. Crouse suffered a lower-body injury vs. Pittsburgh on Feb. 11 and hasn’t played since. Backup goalie Louis Domingue remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
For the Ducks, defensemen Clayton Stoner (abdomen) and Simon Despres (concussion symptoms) are on injured reserve and out indefinitely. Center Antoine Vermette is serving a 10-game suspension after he slapped linesman Shandor Alphonso on the back of the leg with his stick in a game against the Minnesota Wild.
Mike Smith is expected to start in goal for Arizona on Monday. Jonathan Bernier is likely start for Anaheim after John Gibson made 24 saves Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Bernier stopped 26 shots in a 3-0 win over Arizona on Jan. 14.
Anaheim (31-19-10), which has outscored the Coyotes, 11-3, in three games this season, played Sunday night at home and beat Los Angeles 1-0. Defenseman Josh Manson scored the lone goal.
Center Ryan Kesler leads the Ducks with 44 points. Captain Ryan Getzlaf is one point behind him, despite missing seven games because of injury.