Over the last several weeks… or longer that there has been considerable news of a possible Christian Dvorak trade. Now that that trade to the Montreal Canadiens, has gone down, it’s time to dig into how trading Dvorak affects the future of the Arizona Coyotes.
Christian Dvorak Trade Has Implications for Arizona Coyotes
Dvorak is a versatile, exceptionally talented centre for the Arizona Coyotes. Unfortunately, the team under the guidance of new general manager Bill Armstrong is going the rebuild route. Already they have shedded former star players from their roster. They unloaded the huge contract of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and included their highest scoring forward Conor Garland in a blockbuster deal to the Vancouver Canucks. Then, they sent their best goalie, and starter Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche. Yet, it seems they were not done yet.
Dvorak was the Coyotes’ 58th overall selection in the 2014 NHL draft. While his OHL stats were fantastic, he has not come close to matching them in the NHL. He has collected 67 goals, and 79 assists in 302 NHL games. Dvorak is helpful on the power play contributing 19 tallies with 15 assists. He has 10 game winning goals and is a decent 13.6 percent shooter. What makes him so attractive to other teams is his reasonable contract. It’s for $4.45 million through the 2024-25 season. That may be why the Montreal Canadiens did their their best to add him to their roster. They failed to match the Carolina Hurricanes offer sheet to forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and received a first round pick for 2022 and a third rounder in 2024 from the Canes. They in turn, dealt the picks to Arizona for Dvorak.
The Coyotes Will Have a Hole to Fill Without Dvorak
With the Christian Dvorak trade to Montreal, the Coyotes will have a void to fill in his absence. Certainly, both Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz need to step up and don’t forget they played Keller at wing for some time now. If he goes back to centre he will need to produce. They also added Ryan Dzingel as a free agent signing, so even if Dvorak leaves, the roster has at least five-to-six possible centres. The thing is, Dvorak will be missed with his excellent defensive skills and slick shoot-out ability.
The plan of GM Armstrong is strong and he knows what he is doing. Adding draft assets is always imperative to being successful in the NHL. He knows that, and is using it to his and the franchise’s advantage. By adding another first rounder to his treasure chest, he will have THREE for 2022. He also has five second rounders and with the additional second round pick in 2024, he will have three in that round. So, let’s get the calculator out here and see that Armstrong will have nine selections in the first three rounds of the talent rich 2022 NHL draft. While, that doesn’t mean immediate success, it holds true for the future of the Desert Dogs.
The other factor is the Coyotes will now have close to $12 million in cap space available to make other moves. Perhaps a starting goalie is in the cards? GM Bill Armstrong’s plan seems to be falling into place.
Holding Confidence For The Future
Everyone knows that prospects need time to develop. A perfect example is Barrett Hayton. While he hasn’t burned up the NHL in the least bit, the team is being patient with his development so as to not rush him. With Dvorak gone, that gives Hayton the perfect opportunity to step in and see what he can do. The key here is to draft players who can fill the holes created by the rebuilding process. The team did well in drafting Dylan Guenther with the 9th pick they received for trading Kuemper and he may or may not be NHL ready this season. He possesses a deadly shot, has an NHL sized body and may surprise some if he does get to the NHL level this soon. More than likely, he will need to stay in the WHL and refine his game. No sense in bringing in a talented forward on a team which will more than likely be a lottery team.
A New Arena, New Players Means The Team is Progressing
With the announcement of a new possible arena in the east valley, the Coyotes are not only trying to rebuild their team, but have a nice, conveniently located place to play. The team’s proposal for a Tempe site to build a new arena was received recently and now the waiting game begins as to final approval. While it may have been painful to lose such popular players as OEL, Garland, Kuemper, and now Dvorak, building a team of talented young players has to be done if you want to be a winner.
The loss of Dvorak, while expected is a gamble. You just never know if a young player you draft will produce or not. With a player like Dvorak you knew what to expect. He brought his lunch pail to work everyday and did his job. While not an emotional player, he is certainly effective and that’s why so many teams have had an interest in adding him to their rosters. As Dvo heads to Montreal, he will be in hockey heaven. Maybe that will raise his emotions enough to see what kind of player he really is. One thing is certain, the Coyotes will miss him.