Arizona Coyotes Trade Deadline Decisions for 12 Free Agents

Arizona Coyotes trade deadline

The Arizona Coyotes currently have eight unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents on their roster. Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, every NHL fan knows that at 3pm ET on Monday, April 12th the trade deadline ends. With a dozen players either set to seek free agency, be traded or get re-signed by the Desert Dogs, not much time remains as to their future with the team. So, what will new general manager Bill Armstrong who has just been on the job about six months, do? Wouldn’t we all want to be a fly on the wall in his office just about now? An Arizona Coyotes trade deadline analysis is in order.

Who Stays, Who Goes on the Arizona Coyotes Roster Before the Trade Deadline

With 12 players on the list, one would think that teams may be interested in quite a few of the available players before the deadline on Monday. Thus far, that has not been the case, as GM Bill Armstrong is playing his cards close to his vest. He hopes he can culminate some deals which will help his borderline playoff team. The emphasis has to be on the team’s defence and goaltending with five of the dozen players with expiring contracts playing on the blueline. His goalie situation isn’t much easier as both Antti Raanta and Adin Hill are also playing their last season on the current contracts they inked. Only Darcy Kuemper has a contract through next season, and there have been rumours of him being moved.

There is no doubt that this kind of decision making process has to age every general manager in the NHL. This is especially true this shortened season with a pandemic affecting teams and standings and yes, even statistics. Just ask the Vancouver Canucks who have been hit hard with 20 or so COVID-19 cases lately.

So, let’s go through the list of players and try to evaluate whether they stay, or go and why.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Derick Brassard

Brassard has a very affordable contract set at just $1 million. At 33 he may not be that attractive to the trade market, but he does have eight goals, and eight assists in 41 games. It wouldn’t hurt the team to keep him on, as he is a positive influence on the young players on the roster. He has even scored a hat trick this season, so he’s not done yet.

Solution: Resign him

Conor Garland

This young forward worked his way up through the AHL and deserves to stay on team. Needless to say his performance almost requires it. He is second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 21 assists in 40 games. He is a fan favourite and his style of play fits perfectly with the team. The problem is at 5′-10″, 165 pounds he gets mugged frequently by opponents who want to limit his effectiveness. If the Coyotes don’t trade him (and it’s doubtful they will) Armstrong needs to sign a player who can protect Garland better. He can be quite the offensive spark the team needs.

Solution: Re-sign him and give him money equivalent to Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, or Nick Schmaltz… he deserves it!

John Hayden

While he can be a tough guy, he doesn’t seem to provide much more. With just two assists in 20 games he is very one-dimensional. He has spent 33 minutes in the sin-bin and has handed out 52 hits so far. Unfortunately, his worth is not showing any results.

Solution: See if he can be packages in a deal that Armstrong may be able to formulate, or just allow him to go to free agency.

Alex Goligoski

Of all the free agents on the Coyotes’ roster, Goligoski has to be the most attractive candidate to move out. Granted, he will be 36 soon, but he is versatile in that he can play both sides of the blueline and is a puck moving D-man. That $5.475 million contract may be a stumbling block as any team will expect the Coyotes to retain some salary on any deal. His actual salary though, is only $4 million, so that may help. A team like the Winnipeg Jets could surely use Goose’s talents.

Solution: If the right deal presents itself, trade him for maybe a third round pick and a prospect. Perhaps a defenceman since the team’s D-man pantry may become nearly empty.

Jason Demers

He has been a healthy scratch of late, which doesn’t demonstrate to any scouts attending Coyotes’ games what he may bring for them. He has a $4.5 cap hit, but he is only owed $2.6 million after he got a $1 million bonus paid this summer. His value lies in his experience and that his is a right-hand shot, something teams are attracted to especially with the playoffs coming up.

Solution: Trade him if possible or let him walk to free agency. With Victor Soderstrom waiting the AHL, Demers is expendable.

Jordan Oesterle

Now for a while there it seemed that Oesterle was doing great, especially in the bubble last year. Then, the slipped a bit, but still is a good puck-moving defenceman at a reasonable price of $1.4 million. He can be useful on the second power play unit, so he has his good qualitites.

Solution: Re-sign him to a $2 million three-year deal and be done with it.

Ilya Lyubushkin

He is valuable to keep on the roster because he is a right-hand shot and adds an element of physicality that the team lacks. For his present salary ($1 million) and a bit of a raise, he would be worth keeping around. Besides, who else can attack the thugs who go after Conor Garland?

Solution: Re-sign him. He’s worth a bit of a raise say to $1.2 million.

Niklas Hjalmarsson

The shot blocking phenom is coming off of a $5 million contract and mentioned he won’t waive his no trade clause. That either means he’s hoping to find some riches in free agency, or looks to go back to Europe to play. While his defence is his only forte, it appears he may be moving on. How much is a ticket to Sweden?

Solution: Allow him to go to free agency, while teams may be interested in him, it may not happen until free agency kicks in. So much for the Coyotes second goalie on the ice without goalie equipment.

Antti Raanta

Well, what do you say about a professional NHL player who can’t stay healthy? He’s a hypochondriac? He’s fragile… thus the nickname “Glassman”, or he just has issues with his health. It doesn’t really matter because when you’re the backup goalie and you can’t stay healthy enough to BACKUP the starter, your worth is null. He doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance of surviving a Phoenix summer day and any team taking a chance on him has a better chance at a Vegas gambling game.

Solution: He won’t get traded, but the good part is the Coyotes will have an additional $4.25 million towards a contract for a player who can stay healthy and help him team.

Dryden Hunt

He has shown some signs of being a good hard hitting forward, and has collected three goals and an assist in the 12 games while on the taxi squad for the team. He has 41 hits in those 12 games and that coming from a young forward is worthy of him staying around.

Solution: Re-sign him and let him get more time in the AHL, although at 25 he needs to start playing at the NHL level somewhere. He could be a player included in a larger deal… keep an eye on that.

Michael Bunting

This young player was called up (perhaps a bit sooner would have been better) and has been lights out. He gathered a hat trick in the game against the Los Angeles Kings. He has five goals and one assist in six games. Just try and keep him out of the lineup! He has an attractive knack of going to the net and needs to teach some other Coyotes players how to do that. He is the reason the team placed forward Drake Caggiula on waivers. He’s going to be a good one, watch.

Solution: SIGN HIM!! LIKE NOW!!

Adin Hill

Another no-brainer is to keep Hill. I mean he came to the rescue when both the starting and backup goalie went down to injuries. He knows the NHL game now, and should be kept around after Raanta leaves as Keumper’s backup. The only thing is the Seattle Kracken may have their eyes on him. That would hurt. In any case, Hill has proven to some degree to be ready for NHL action; that is if he’s allowed to stick around.

Solution: Re-sign him with hopes that he doesn’t get taken in the expansion draft.

In Conclusion

The Arizona Coyotes for the 2021-22 season will not only look completely different, they will move to the Central Division with the addition of the Seattle team. This may have good or bad connotations. Sure they will create or supplement some rivalries (Chicago Blackhawks come to mind) but will the team that Bill Armstrong puts out on the ice be up to it? Much depends on the Arizona Coyotes trade deadline deals and off season free agency opportunities. Of course supplementing the team’s dismal draft choice selections would be super.

I wonder if they gave Bill Armstrong a Superman cape, because he may need one.

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