The Arizona Coyotes and Deadline Strategy

Arizona Coyotes

What an unfair season this has been for the Arizona Coyotes.

What else could you call the Arizona Coyotes losing Antti Raanta, Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, Jason Demers, and Michael Grabner to season ending injuries. Losing two of your best centers, your starting goalie, a good 2/3 line winger, and your starting goaltender for the season would decimate any team.

I mean imagine if Tampa Bay lost Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ondrej Palat, J.T. Miller, and Yanni Gourde for the rest of the season. Tampa Bay might survive, but they would not be the #1 team by a long shot. This is the big issue with the Arizona Coyotes at the deadline this year. Do they sell, or do they buy?

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What do You Mean Buy?

Well to think that the Arizona Coyotes could win the Stanley Cup this season is a little bit silly. Anything can happen if you make the playoffs, sure. However, can anyone honestly say with confidence that Arizona can beat a Toronto, or a San Jose, or a Tampa Bay in a 7 game series? So what do I mean by buy?

Well simply put the Arizona Coyotes need to selectively buy. Like they did when they acquired Schmaltz. Yes they arguably gave up more to get him in trading both Perlini and Strome, but the initial returns outweighed the loss. It was a trade that may have mortgaged the future, but helped the team both now and in the future. If that makes sense…

I’ll put it this way, the tactical risk of trading the potential of both Strome and Perlini was outweighed by acquiring Schmaltz’s immediate skill and his potential to improve upon that skill.

If Arizona acquires anything this deadline it has to be a situation where they can both benefit now and in the future. Maybe it’s acquiring a young, cost controlled, RHD. Perhaps it’s finding more wing depth help insulate some of the guys they have. Maybe they even decide to go for it and swing a deal for both Mark Stone and Matt Duchene. Who knows? they do have both the conceivable assets to do so and the potential cap space to add their contracts if both would resign.

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Regrouping for Next Year

Again Arizona has been absolutely decimated by injuries and that’s no secret. It’s put them in a position that arguably they shouldn’t be. On paper their full team would at least rival the Vegas Golden Knights, and could definitely go up against Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Colorado for those two Wild Card spots.

However this season we don’t get to see that version of the Arizona team and they currently sit 12th overall in the western conference and 6th overall in the Wild Card race. They aren’t going to leapfrog all of Dallas, St. Louis, Minnesota, Vancouver, and Chicago. They won’t. They might end up ahead two or three of those teams but not all of them. Knowing it this it would be wise for the Coyotes to start analyze their team and finding players who’d they’d be willing to sell/upgrade on.

My Sell List

  1. Richard Panik: A UFA this summer, currently has 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points. Good third line player who can do spot duty in a top 6. Could garner a third round pick or a B level prospect.
  2. Nick Cousins: An RFA this summer, has 6 goals and 17 assists for 23 points. Third line player that can play wing and center. He’s a very attractive option as he does have RFA status. Could get a third round pick and a prospect. teams love center depth for playoff pushes.
  3. Jordan Oesterle: A UFA this summer. Signed a cap friendly prove it deal for 650K. coincidentally that deal makes him a prime deadline asset. Boasting 6 goals and 13 assists, there will be many suitors if Arizona chooses to trade him. Will get at least a third, perhaps more, I hesitate to say a second, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
  4. Kevin Connauton: Only player that is not a UFA/RFA. If a team is willing to pick up the extra year on his contract he could be shipped out. Teams are always looking for defensive depth see Brandon Manning and Alex Petrovic in Edmonton for example. With only 1 goal and 6 assists for 7 points this season he won’t get a huge return. He may get a 5th or a 6th round pick in return.

Honorable Mention

Dave Bolland. While he hasn’t played in years his contract (5.5 million AAV) is still on the cap this season for Arizona. If they do decide to buy hard, it would not surprise me if they found a way to trade this contract in order to fit under the cap. Ottawa is going to need dead cap space to hit the floor if all of Ryan Dzingel, Stone, and Duchene get traded… just saying…

The Wrap

This deadline is going to very interesting not just for Arizona Coyotes fans, but for the entire pacific division. Arizona has the power to drastically alter the playoff landscaping depending on what they buy/sell. Of course they could choose to hold their cards close to their chests and do nothing. Doing so would mean committing to giving the current mix of players a shot at a season of hopefully fully healthy players. Until they make a decision either way, we wait.

stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

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Author: Ryan Boonstra (OilersAholic OG)