We all remember that fateful day on July 23rd when the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks conducted a huge trade. Both teams were motivated to rid themselves of contracts. Caught in the crossfire was popular forward Conor Garland. His meagre contract of just $775,000 was inconsequential. To make the deal work for Arizona and to unload a huge eight-year $66 million contract for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Garland became the catalyst of the trade.
Not that the Coyotes didn’t receive anything besides relieving themselves of an albatross contract. For them, gathering the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft was the key factor. With that selection, they chose forward Dylan Guenther. The 18-year-old was playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. This move fit right into general manager Bill Armstrong‘s plan to rebuild the Coyotes. Guenther had a terrific rookie camp and training camp. He possesses a wicked shot from the point, and with time will be a good NHL player.
Arizona Coyotes Are Seeing How Much They Miss Conor Garland
The Vancouver Canucks got themselves a good hockey player when they pulled off the trade sending Conor Garland to the pacific northwest. He has delivered on his end with three goals and five assists in six games. He has fit in well with new linemates Tanner Pearson and Bo Horvat. As was the case while he was in Arizona, he’s quickly becoming a fan favourite. He’s pesky, quick and always around the puck. The Canucks realized that they had a good player immediately and signed him to a five-year $24.75 million deal, locking him up until the 2025-26 season.
While the circumstances of trading Garland are justified if the Coyotes want to do a rebuild, it still doesn’t settle well with his fans. Many were distraught and wondering what was going on. Certainly, they understood that the OEL contract had to go away somehow, but why was Garland included in that? It’s actually quite simple. Garland was a valuable commodity that the Canucks needed to move forward after a very disastrous season. He has spunk. He has energy, and he is one hell of a player. Jim Benning, the Canucks general manager knew all that when he traded for Garland.
Since Garland’s Departure, No Other Player Has Filled His Role
Admittingly, Garland is a very unique player who is versatile and skilled. Many fans could not understand why or how the management in Arizona could allow him to go to another team. The writing was really on the wall as the Coyotes weren’t offering Garland a new contract. He was grossly underpaid and yet led the team in scoring. Most experts could have predicted his fate. In retrospect, the Coyotes got very little in return since how do you put a value on a player of Garland’s capabilities? Sure he’s wild and out of control at times, but every Coyotes fan wishes he was still doing that in Arizona instead of Vancouver.
In fact, all three players the Coyotes picked up as a return in the big trade have only scored one assist combined in 14 games played! That is NOT a good return. We all know the motive to add Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, and Antoine Roussel. To dump the ridiculous contract awarded to OEL by former general manager John Chayka. But, why was Garland the sacrificial lamb? Because in reality, the Canucks wanted him way more than OEL even though the Coyotes retained $990,000 a year of his contract until it expires in 2026-27. The Vancouver bunch really needed someone like Garland to add some spark to their offence.
It’s plays like this that will haunt Bill Armstrong going forward. Not having Garland now, he will miss his abilities as demonstrated below. He’s #8 now, but he just made this play happen with an excellent pass.
He can also score as displayed in this example, as he outhustles the Seattle Kraken defence and uses his speed to catch Philipp Grubauer flat-footed. The dude just has a nose for the puck and will do anything to get possession, usually causing good results for this team.
Garland Knows How to Irritate His Opponent
This season Garland has been irritating opponents so much they are going out of their way to call him names. That seems to be fine with Conor Garland, as he uses that to further motivate his performance. During the Canucks’ season-opening six-game road trip that lasted 10 days, Garland was called an “angry little elf” by Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny, a “midget” by Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina, and put up eight total points — in that order.
Certainly, under different circumstances, the Coyotes would have loved to have kept Garland on their roster. Yet, you’ve got to be happy for the guy who was severely underpaid and underappreciated. He got his contract and guess what? He’s playing like the top-six forward he is… but for the Coyotes’ fans, it still hurts that it’s not in Arizona. Good luck Conor… well you won’t need luck, you have skill… and SPUNK!