With the trade deadline just a little more than a month away, we will be taking a closer look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do and what assets do they have to fill those needs? Next up is a look at the Arizona Coyotes.
Coyotes GM John Chayka has made a pair of big swings at upgrading his offense with the acquisition of Phil Kessel over the summer and the addition of Taylor Hall last month. The moves haven’t paid significant dividends in that regard, but at the same time, Arizona is still right in the thick of things in the very tight Pacific Division despite both of its goaltenders dealing with injuries this season. However, the Coyotes moved several prospects and draft picks in those moves, which will limit the chips that Chayka has to use to try to add more to his roster over the next month.
26-20-5, tied for second in the Pacific Division
$2.875 million in a full-season cap hit (using LTIR), 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 45/50 contracts per CapFriendly.
2020: ARI 2nd, ARI 4th, ARI 5th, ARI 6th, ARI 7th
2021: ARI 1st*, ARI 2nd*, ARI 3rd*, ANA 4th, PIT 4th, ARI 5th, ARI 6th, ARI 7th
*- Arizona is guaranteed to lose at least its third-round pick to New Jersey as part of the Hall deal. The pick becomes a second-round selection if Arizona winds a round in this postseason or Hall re-signs with the Coyotes. It would upgrade to a first-round pick if the Coyotes win a round and Hall re-signs.
With basically their top three picks encumbered for next season pending the completion of the Hall trade and missing two of their top three selections this season, the Coyotes might be limited in terms of shopping at the higher end of the market, especially since they’re not likely going to be willing to part with top prospects such as Barrett Hayton or Victor Soderstrom.
However, one veteran player to keep an eye on might be goaltender Antti Raanta. Over his time with the Coyotes, he has played relatively well for the most part (although his last outing was a rough one), but staying healthy has been a concern. That eventually led to the acquisition of Darcy Kuemper, who earned himself a contract extension this season as he played his way into the No. 1 role. All of a sudden, that leaves Raanta and his $4.25 million average annual value as an expensive insurance policy. With several teams looking for a short-term upgrade at the backup position, the 30-year-old could be of interest. Moving Raanta would also open up a bit more salary-cap flexibility, which could be notable with the Coyotes being open to a bonus overage penalty next year as a result of being in long-term injured reserve.
Beyond Raanta, expect Arizona's trade chips to be late-round picks or younger players who are on the fringes of being worth an NHL look whom other teams will be able to take a longer look at down the stretch.
1) Defensive Depth – Right now, Arizona’s depth options are Jordan Oesterle, Ilya Lyubushkin and Kyle Capobianco. While the three can hold their own on the third pairing if need be, it’s an area that can certainly be upgraded. Landing a capable third pairing defender would be ideal; but even if the Coyotes don’t do that, some extra depth to hedge in case of injuries would be worth examining.
2) Scoring Help – Even after the Coyotes added Hall and Kessel, their offense has gone up by only a quarter goal per game from last season. Nick Schmaltz is sitting at just seven goals this season while Derek Stepan is at eight; those are their top-paid forwards after Kessel. Another impact scorer would be ideal; although with their limited cap space, the Coyotes may have to settle for targeting a complementary piece who fits in better with some of their scuffling forwards.
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