NHL Trade Deadline: Which Coyotes Will Go?


Welcome to the Arizona Coyotes fire sale special, where various NHL teams will attend looking for extra pieces to help their clubs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2.

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With less than two weeks until the the deadline, the Coyotes will be certainly have their hands full with offers. Whether it’s acquiring new assets for the future, examining their own prospects through additional ice time or increasing their chances at a high draft pick, Arizona will have plenty motivation to trade some contracts.

Nov 22, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette (50) prepares to attempt a shot against the San Jose Sharks during a shootout at SAP Center at San Jose. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 4-3 on a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Antoine Vermette

The first place to start is with the most likely skater to be leaving Arizona, Antoine Vermette. Vermette, who has 13 goals and 22 assists, is a valuable asset for contenders looking to add center depth. Vermette is third in the NHL in total faceoffs won with 718.

Vermette would be ideal to trade away at the deadline as he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Arizona has been adamant about receiving a fist round draft pick and a young prospect in return for Vermette.

Reports list Montreal, Boston, Detroit, NY Rangers, Anaheim and Colorado as potential suitors. The destination that makes most sense for Vermette is Montreal. The Canadiens currently the have the options of an underachieving Lars Eller and the young 19-year old Jacob de la Rose for third line center.

Considering the success Montreal has had this season, their 1st round draft pick will be in the late 20’s and reasonable for them to deal away with. The promising Swede de la Rose will certainly be off the table whereas the Canadiens have been trying trade Eller, who could use a change of scenery, for some time.

Prediction: Arizona trades Antoine Vermette to Montreal for Lars Eller & a first round pick

Nov 14, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (4) awaits the face off against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Rogers Arena. The Arizona Coyotes won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Zbynek Michalek

A name that won’t jump out at first glance but definitely a potential key piece is Zbynek Michalek. Michalek isn’t the type to stuff the box score with only eight points. However, he’s vastly disciplined in the defensive zone. The defenseman leads the Coyotes and is among the top 10 in blocked shots with 130.

There have been a few suitors to step up as front runners. These include San Jose, St. Louis, Anaheim and Detroit. Tampa Bay has also been linked to rumors. Most of these teams are contenders that are in need of softening the load on their workhorses or have been hampered by injuries.

Although he’s arguable one of the best defensive players on the market, Michalek carries a $4 million cap hit and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season is over. Being a right-handed defenseman makes him valuable, but the possibility of only being a rental makes his market tricky to predict.

His destination will be a little easier to predict, however. With injuries to two of their top six defenseman, Tampa Bay will be looking to support their high powered offense. Similar to Montreal, Tampa Bay won’t be willing to trade young Jonathan Drouin, but could move J.T. Brown.

Prediction: Arizona trades Michalek to Tampa Bay for J.T. Brown & a second round pick

Nov 13, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle (3) passes the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Yandle

Keith Yandle is tied for first among NHL defensemen with 36 assists. He’s second among all NHL skaters with 26 power play points. He averages nearly 24 minutes for the Coyotes each night. To say that there is demand for Yandle would be an understatement.

Yandle’s struggles in defensive play could easily be disguised on a team with a higher a possession rate or with a defensive unit with more defensively oriented skaters. The Coyotes demands for Yandle would start at a first round pick with a prospect.

Two teams that were in constant competition over a coveted defenseman were Anaheim and Detroit. Before Tyler Myers was sent to Buffalo (a deal that included Evander Kane going to the Sabres) the Ducks and Red Wings were rumored to be competing with each other for Myers services.

Focus has shifted to the desert and even though a potential Anaheim offer of a first round pick and Emerson Etem may sound appealing, the Coyotes should be asking for a skater in the developed mold of Evander Kane, which most teams won’t be able to do. The Myers/Kane trade may have convinced Arizona to want more and possibly may have kept Yandle in Arizona.

Prediction: Arizona doesn’t trade Yandle

Jan 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Arizona defeated Toronto 3-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Just reading his name in this article is sure to make most cringe, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson has to be considered because of general manager Don Maloney’s statements.

"Oliver Ekman-Larsson is player that we would certainly be very, very reluctant to part with. But as far as I’m concerned when you’re sitting with our record and we’re [one of the] three or four worst records in the league then everybody’s up for grabs. If there’s deals out there that’s going to make us better long-term—and that’s the key for us, we’re not doing anything short term here to plug a hole or fill a short-term need. We’re looking down the road."

Ekman-Larsson leads the Coyotes with just under 25 minutes of average time on ice as well as with shots on goal with 192. He leads the Coyotes and all NHL defenseman with 17 goals. Maloney would need to acquire a few more phones to keep up with the calls.

The 23-year old was the lone representative for Arizona in the All-Star game and opened the eyes of many that weren’t aware of how profound his talent was. Ekman-Larsson will be a cornerstone for the Coyotes franchise. One from which they will build around.

Prediction: 29 other NHL teams aren’t able to move mountains and Oliver Ekman-Larsson remains a Coyote.

More Potential Targets

If there’s one thing that the Coyotes would be clever to do it would be to unload veterans that will become free agents at the end of the year.

Martin Erat has eight goals and 17 assists this season and could provide a contender with some offensive touch on the fourth line. Erat has eclipsed 20 goals and 50 points in various seasons in his career and could provide a rather affordable option.

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David Moss has consistently put up shots on goal this season with his very limited ice time. Moss has one 20-goal season in his career and like Erat, is an affordable addition to the fourth line because of his pending free agent status.

Sam Gagner is under contract for the Coyotes next season, but he has value with 10 goals and 18 assists on the season. An offensive presence on the Coyotes second line, it’s unclear whether he’s in the plans for next season or a potential acquisition for a contender looking for line depth.

Injuries to Mikkel Boedker, who was leading Arizona with goals at the time of his injury, and Martin Hanzal, who has became to develop a reputation with injury, will prevent the Coyotes from acquiring any return on them. Boedker’s speedy play and Hanzal’s faceoff ability would’ve been an aid to any contending team.

Arizona will have a busy two weeks in front of them and it’s vital that they make the right trades. Acquiring potential assets and draft picks will be an important step on the path of rebuilding the Arizona Coyotes.