It was like the movie “Groundhog Day” for the Arizona Coyotes at the 2020 trade deadline. General manager John Chayka failed to make any consequential moves. Didn’t the same thing happen last season? It was thought with two defencemen still down with injuries (Jakob Chychrun, Jason Demers) that something could have been done to augment the blueline. Chychrun is being listed as week-to-week. Demers can’t come back until the end of the week off of long term injury reserve.
They needed to upgrade their forward lines too since they are having trouble scoring. They stand 23rd in the NHL in scoring and 19th in power play conversion. Yet, when all the trade madness was going down, did we hear that any Arizona Coyotes trade deadline moves were addressed?
Arizona Coyotes Fail to Make Any Needed Trade Deadline Moves
The part that’s difficult to swallow is that their Pacific Division competition did improve their rosters. The Edmonton Oilers improved their forward line by acquiring both Andreas Athanasiou from the Detroit Red Wings, and Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators. They also filled a gap on their blueline by grabbing Mike Green.
Previously, the Los Angeles Kings sent Alec Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights for two second-round picks over the next two years. And don’t forget that the Vancouver Canucks added Tyler Toffoli. Today, the Calgary Flames grabbed defenceman Erik Gustafsson from the Chicago Blackhawks, then added Derek Forbort for good measure.
Then, at the last dying minutes before the deadline passed, the Vegas club pulled off the biggest deal of the day. They got Robin Lehner! Great. That gives them two starting quality goalies. Vegas, Edmonton, and Calgary all improved. Coyotes… not at all.
Granted Chayka had already committed some picks and young prospects to add Taylor Hall to the roster. He had limited cap space, but other teams who were active today managed to make moves anyway. Vegas had $3.9 million including LTIR (long-term injured reserve) yet managed to get creative to fit Lehner’s salary under the cap.
Chayka Dislikes Making Trade Deadline Moves
That may be the case, and the argument may be valid, but what happens if his inaction to improve his team disqualifies them to get to the postseason again? His job could be on the line.
Chayka told Craig Morgan, “We were shopping on a different aisle,” Chayka said. “We were looking at some things that probably weren’t moving today. That’s not to take anything away from the players that were available. It’s just when you consider the cost of a rental, if a player is not really that impactful vs. keeping the status quo here, why do it? We’ve got Michael Grabner sitting out. Christian Fischer’s sitting out, Vinnie Hinostroza and Barrett Hayton have been in that mix. If you’re going to pay a price, you’d better make damn sure they’re ahead of those guys and we didn’t feel that way.”
He continued by saying, “We believe in this group,” Chayka said. “We’ve had a good season going. We’ve played a lot of hockey and especially lately, I feel our game is trending the right way.”
Trending the right way? How so? Since the last time the team put together a four-game winning streak (it’s second of the season… and longest) on January 7th against the Florida Panthers, they have gone a putrid 6-10-4. Sorry John that’s trending in the wrong direction.
A Deal For Trocheck
Sources close to Craig Morgan, the senior writer for the team told him that the Arizona Coyotes had significant interest in centre Vincent Trocheck (10 goals, 26 assists) from the Florida Panthers. They decided to “stay put.”
Staying put when your team is fighting for a playoff spot is not reassuring. Do the math. The team is 11-13-4 since losing Darcy Kuemper. Even with the addition of Hall who has nine goals, 16 assists in 30 games they are still just hanging around a playoff spot. In fact, with Hall in the lineup they are 12-14-4.
The other factor is every team the Coyotes are fighting against for a playoff berth have games-in-hand to give them an advantage. They still have eight games against Pacific Division foes and Chayka sits on his hands today! Amazing.
So, Chayka’s logic to stay put, that he wants to keep the status quo makes you wonder if he has already given up for this season. Let’s face it, he didn’t improve the team today.
What really is at stake here is number one, Chayka’s job. If the team flounders out of a playoff spot for the eighth straight year, would you keep him around?. And, number two,(unfortunately) it could put Rick Tocchet‘s job in jeopardy. How would you feel if you were the new owner of this team and you spent up to the salary cap limit and yet were left on the outside looking in again when playoffs begin?
We all know that Chayka has worked some magic pulling off trades, but only during the offseason. Why is that? Granted, he doesn’t like making deals for rentals yet that may be exactly what he did when he acquired Hall. It baffles most everyone how he is going to even get close to offering anything close to what Hall can get on the free agency market after the season. If he couldn’t work a deal today to improve the team, how will he retain Hall who will want a truckload of money to stay in the desert?
After today, the Arizona Coyotes season is done. Do you hear me? Just take a look at how many players were moved today. Teams improved… many of them.
Unfortunately, the Arizona Coyotes weren’t one of them.