The Arizona Coyotes announced that they have hired Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Terms weren’t disclosed, but it is believed to be a four-deal worth $1 million a year with a fifth-year option. Armstrong came from the reigning Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues organization where he was the assistant general manager and the director of amateur scouting. One of the agreements between the two teams for Armstrong to be hired was that he will not be able to participate in the NHL draft next month.
Welcome to the desert, GM Armstrong. 🌵https://t.co/udMrBPJ9FV
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) September 17, 2020
Bill Armstrong Faces Some Challenges in His New Role
The Arizona Coyotes have… well been a mess recently. First, there was the unusual and freaky departure of their former General Manager, John Chayka who decided to terminate his own contract. That is being investigated by none other than Gary Bettman as to whether Chayka was being courted by the New Jersey Devils in some capacity. Then, not long after Chayka spilt town, the team was punished for violating training rules for prospects. Whether it gave them an unfair advantage or not, the NHL came down hard on them stripping two draft picks from them.
Besides that, the team is in the midst of some financial issues. First, it was reported that they failed to pay players their bonuses due recently. The new owner, Alex Meruelo has some other business interests in such things as casinos, construction, and restaurants. Unless you’ve really quarantined yourself, it is known that these businesses have been hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Meruelo is a billionaire, it seems he’s feeling the effects on his balance sheet. Then this was disclosed…
More concerning financial news for Arizona Coyotes: Team still has an outstanding balance that has yet to be paid with ASM Global, which operates and manages Gila River Arena. Balance for 2019-20 season, due on June 30, has yet to be paid.
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) September 17, 2020
Salary Cap Issues for Bill Armstrong to Tackle
So, this is all stuff besides what needs to be addressed on the ice. Like, what will happen to multiple players who will have expired contracts after next season? The team obviously needs to consider shedding some expiring contracts like those of Derek Stepan ($6.5M), Michael Grabner ($3.35M), Alex Goligoski ($5.475M), Niklas Hjalmarsson ($5M), Jason Demers ($3.9375M), Antti Raanta ($4.25M) Jordan Oesterle ($1.4M). Then, if Oliver Ekman-Larsson is dealt that’s another $8.25M for the next seven years. If Darcy Kuemper is traded, there’s another $4.5M. That comes to an astounding $30,162,500! Not that they would actually save that much.
The trade rumours will now be handled by the new General Manager, Bill Armstrong. There seems to be plenty of interest in OEL, Kuemper, and even Hjalmarsson as evidenced by Elliotte Friedman’s 31 thoughts.
Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts:
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) September 17, 2020
Also, it is a certainty as whenever a new GM takes over that he will assess who stays and who doesn’t. We knew that before Chayka left the scouting group for the team was evaluated and some left. Now, with Armstrong wanting his own vision, he may need to look at scouting. That seems to be his forte.
Craig Button on Leafs Lunch says new Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong needs to gut the scouting staff because of what John Chayka did to that ‘outstanding’ group and made a disaster of it. #Yotes
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) September 17, 2020
On the Positive Side
Adding a general manager of Bill Armstrong’s integrity and experience is long overdue for this franchise. Not only can he settle things down and focus on developing the younger players into NHL stars, but he also brings his hockey knowledge with him. Of course, he will need to clean up whatever Chayka left and that can take time. Patience is in order and Armstrong’s got this. His confidence in re-moulding this team can get contagious and we will see starting with who he wants behind the bench.
Will he keep Rick Tocchet and Phil Housley? He may or may not, his prerogative. It’s certain that one of the first things he will do is have a meeting with Steve Sullivan to get the lowdown on what’s been going on with the club.
With all the negative news of late concerning this organization, Armstrong’s hiring is a breath of fresh air. One that this front office needed in the worst way. Hopefully, Armstrong can take this team to further heights… but it may take time. With the craziness of this season hitting the entire NHL, things will need to get back to normal. It is at that time we will all get to see what the real Bill Armstrong can do as a general manager. He has the skills and background to build this team into a winner.
Every Arizona Coyotes fan should be excited at the prospect of good things happening under a Bill Armstrong front office.