The Arizona Coyotes are hanging around in a wild card spot but may need some help via the trade deadline to get there. Since acquiring a talented forward in Taylor Hall they have gone a less than inspiring 7-9-3. They are a miserable 2-5-3 in their last 10 games. Adding Phil Kessel to the mix was supposed to help increase the offensive threat of the team. He’s only scoring at half the rate of his last two seasons while with the Pittsburgh Penguins. So, what do the Coyotes 2020 trade deadline needs include?
2020 Arizona Coyotes Trade Deadline Needs
The team is in desperate need of some scoring… still. Their goals-for average of 2.72 is 23rd in the NHL. Their power play lacks at just 19.4 percent and that ranks them 18th. The one element of their game which is impressive is their defence. They are tied for fifth in the league allowing just 2.67 goals per game. The penalty kill is adequate at 82.1 percent placing them 11th in that category.
So, what will put this team over the hump and FINALLY make the playoffs for the first time since 2012? Good question.
They are set in defence and goaltending (at least when Darcy Kuemper returns) and just need another good forward to get them to the finish line. While the team has a surplus of centres, a name like Craig Smith of the Nashville Predators comes to mind. He is an excellent possession player with an impressive Corsi for of 56.7 and a relative Corsi for of 6.1. He has collected 11 goals, 11 assists in 51 games this season.
He’s a right-shooting forward who can play both on the wing and at the centre. That’s the versatility that the general manager John Chayka is attracted to. Smith is 30-years-old, a nine-year veteran and has 155 goals, 166 assists in 643 career games. He also has scored 20 or more goals in five different seasons. Keep that in mind. Good possession player who can score and is a right-hand shot. All the good qualities they need.
So, who might the Coyotes need to give up to acquire Smith? It seems that the Preds may need another goalie with Pekka Rinne ageing at 37-years-old. His stats have faltered this season with a 17-12-3 record. He has a less than exciting .898 save percentage and allows 3.01 goals per game.
Enter Antti Raanta.
The Coyotes may be tiring of Rannta’s on again off again game and could consider trading him. His salary is $4.25 million through next season. Smith will be an unrestricted free agent in July. If the Predators don’t want to sign him, they may want to get something for him in return. His current salary is the same as Raanta’s. Gee, what a coincidence.
With the emergence of Adin Hill in net, the Coyotes will still have a good backup goalie who is young and much cheaper ($708,250 through 2019-20) than Raanta. This gives the team more salary-cap space to make some improvements the club sorely needs to compete in the ever-competitive Western Conference standings race.
They need to re-sign Vinnie Hinostroza, and perhaps Carl Soderberg, but definitely Taylor Hall. That will take some financial wizardry, Chayka’s specialty. It would be a shame to not keep Hall on the team. While their record with him is not great, other factors have contributed to the Yotes’ poor level of play lately… namely losing Kuemper. Since Kuemper went down on December 19th, the Yotes have a 6-8-3 record.
Hall has done well since coming to the desert with seven goals, 10 assists in 19 games. Imagine having him an entire season. His speed and excellent two-way play would be difficult to lose.
Other Arizona Coyotes Trade Deadline Possibilities
Another player Chayka may consider trading is centre Derek Stepan. He was acquired to help out the offence and had four 50-point or more seasons while a member of the New York Rangers. His totals with the Coyotes have been pretty sub-standard for a player earning $6.5 million through next season. He has had just one 50-point season in Arizona. If you trade for Smith and get Stepan traded, Smith can step right in at perhaps a cheaper salary and about the same age player.
So, losing Stepan’s overpaid salary will allow Chayka some breathing room. It creates some cap space to fill the roster with productive players who can get them to the postseason.
Two other players who are nearing free agency by July 2021 are Christian Fischer and Brad Richardson. While Richardson is a much more valuable player with his penalty killing and all-around crafty play, his age is catching up to him. Fischer will be a restricted free agent but his play has caused him to be a regular healthy scratch. He may be a more attractive player to trade since he is just 22-years-old.
So, there are some possibilities for the Desert Dogs to move forward to improve the team and get them to the playoffs. That remains their goal, and with just several weeks to the trade deadline, they need to consider their options.
Right now they are in a funk and perhaps even head coach Rick Tocchet‘s job could be on the line if they don’t break out of it. You either fire the coach or trade players to improve.
Which option should the Coyotes choose?