Bill Armstrong is changing the way people look at the Coyotes organization. Before the arrival of the General Manager, the Coyotes had not found much success. They have only made the playoffs once in the past decade and have been struggling for what seems like forever. The Coyotes organization hired Bill Armstrong on September 20th, 2020.
Since that moment, the Coyotes seem to be heading in the correct direction. Taking part in big draft selections, trades, free agent signings, and more, Armstrong is showing what he and his staff are capable of. Armstrong has shown this team will soon compete, but what are some big moves he’s made in the desert?
Bill Armstrong Leading Path for Arizona Success
Armstrong has not shied away from some significant trades impacting the Coyotes’ future. On July 23rd, 2021, Armstrong and company made a blockbuster move, trading captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland for what would be Dylan Guenther, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, and Loui Eriksson. This solidified the start of yet another rebuild. The Coyotes’ front office has also clarified that they will take on big contracts. They did this on numerous occasions acquiring Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew Ladd, both for future consideration.
With Bill Armstrong letting the trades speak for themselves, some players did not want to be a part of another rebuild. One of which was Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper was dealt on July 28th, 2021, for defensemen Conor Timmins, 2022 1st, and a 2023 3rd. Shortly afterwards, they traded forward Christian Dvorak for a 2022 1st (Carolinas) and a 2024 2nd. This was yet another trade that showed the direction the Coyotes were going. Adding more draft capital to their relatively weak prospect pool. With his current track record and more to come, he has also made a big impact on the draft night, taking some intriguing players.
Coyotes lost their 2021 1st-round draft selection due to testing violations. Armstrong had to get creative, and trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland seemed the best option. With that, they acquired the 9th overall selection, which turned out to be Dylan Guenther. The Coyotes hope Dylan Guenther will be a core piece moving forward throughout this rebuild. Some other notable draft selections in 2021 were Josh Doan, son of former Coyote legend Shane Doan, and J.J Moser.
The 2022 NHL draft was by far the biggest for the Coyotes as they held the 3rd overall selection. Having some elite names like Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Logan Cooley, they had some options at three. They ended up selecting Logan Cooley, who has looked like a great pick tearing it up with the Minnesota Gophers.
They also traded picks 27, 34, and 45 for pick 11 to eventually draft Conor Geekie from the Winnipeg Ice. Coyotes also took Maveric Lamoureux later in the first round, who stands in at a massive 6’7″. This year’s draft should also be huge for the Coyotes, having the likes of Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov. It’s also a very deep draft, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Being in a rebuild, signing big-time free agents is pretty unlikely. That’s been the case this time around. This past summer, the Coyotes agreed to terms with Nick Bjugstad, who has been thriving in the desert. They also signed veterans like Troy Stecher, Josh Brown and Jon Gillies. Armstrong has prioritized size during his time in the desert. Whether in the draft or by trade, getting the team bigger and more physical has been a big priority. Some names that come to mind are Maveric Lamoureux, Josh Brown, Nick Ritchie, and Conor Geekie.
With some of these moves by Armstrong and the rest of the front office, they are trending in the correct direction. What started as a weak prospect pool, now, with some key draft picks, they have one of the best. With the Coyotes looking like they won’t make the playoffs again come April, fans will be in store for a wild offseason.