The Arizona Coyotes have not been tremendously active at the trade deadline over the past three seasons. Internal budgeting is certainly part of the reason why, as was the team's rough position of being somewhere between a good team and a bad one.
Yet there's little doubt about what kind of team the Coyotes are this season. And as the team considers trading away pending unrestricted free agents, let's take a quick look at the trades the Coyotes made at or near the deadline over the past three years.
To Phoenix - Antoine Vermette
To Columbus - Curtis McElhinney, 2012 2nd Round pick, 2013 Conditional 5th Round pick
This is probably the closest the Coyotes have come to making a blockbuster trade at the deadline. Arizona acquired Vermette, a much needed presence down the middle, in exchange for a backup goaltender, a low 2nd round draft choice, and a conditional 5th. Not bad for a guy who became a #1 center.
There are several caveats to this of course. At the time Vermette had three years left on his contract, and he had a measly 27 points in 60 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Coyotes bought low on a guy with a lot of term left. That isn't going to happen this time around.
What became of McElhinney and the draft choices? McElhinney remains in Columbus as the team's backup goaltender, the condition for the 5th rounder was never satisfied, and the Jackets flipped that second round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in a deal that brought a struggling backup by the name of Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus. Everybody won that trade.
To Phoenix - 2014 7th Round Pick
To New Jersey - Steve Sullivan
In the grand scheme of things, a 7th round draft choice means very little. The Coyotes used it to draft winger Jared Fiegl, who currently has zero points in 18 games for Cornell University.
The New Jersey Devils received Sullivan, a guy who was brought in to replace Ray Whitney but only recorded 12 points in 33 games. Neither team really benefited from the deal, but neither was really hurt by it either.
To Phoenix - 2013 3rd Round Pick
To San Jose - Raffi Torres
This looks more like what your prototypical buyer/seller trade deadline deal looks like. The Coyotes had a serviceable depth forward (suspension problems notwithstanding) in Torres that the San Jose Sharks wanted to have for the playoffs. Don Maloney got as much as he could out of that deal.
Torres played reasonably well for the Sharks until the suspension bug illegally checked him in the brain during the Sharks' second round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings. Injury issues have subsequently hampered his ability to play full-time with the Sharks, while the Coyotes used that draft pick to select Yan-Pavel Laplante at the top of the 3rd round.
To Phoenix - Brandon McMillan
To Anaheim - Matthew Lombardi
A straight depth player for depth player swap that the Coyotes probably ended up getting the better of. Lombardi had been acquired earlier in 2013 from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was plagued with injury problems and lingering concussion issues. McMillan was an AHL forward for the Ducks who was more used to fighting than he was scoring.
Lombardi proved to be a non-factor for the Ducks, recording no points in seven games before heading overseas to Switzerland. McMillan has three points in 43 games with the club this season, and has done little to prove that he can be an everyday NHLer.
To Phoenix - Mathieu Brisebois, 2014 2nd Round Pick
To Chicago - David Rundblad
The best draft spot the Coyotes acquired via trade in the past three years took two defensive prospects to obtain. Rundblad was acquired from Ottawa in the Kyle Turris deal back in 2011, and never really received consistent ice-time in Arizona. Brisebois was an undrafted defenseman playing in the AHL.
This deal may prove to be the most important one the Coyotes made at the deadline in recent years. The Coyotes used that 2nd round selection to draft Christian Dvorak 58th overall. Severely hampered by injury in his draft year, Dvorak has now potted an incredible 31 goals and 49 assists in 42 games with the London Knights (alongside Coyotes first round pick Max Domi). Dvorak could be a real diamond in the rough for Arizona.
To Phoenix - Martin Erat, John Mitchell
To Washington - Chris Brown, Rostislav Klesla, 2015 4th Round Pick
This is the danger of being a team on the borderline. The Coyotes were fighting to get better, and opted to buy low on Martin Erat in the hope that he could build some chemistry with fellow Czechs Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.
While the team didn't make the postseason, they did give up Chris Brown, a forward with size and some offensive promise who had just broken into the league the year before. He only has two goals in his time with the Capitals, but if he does become an NHL regular this trade may haunt the Coyotes in the future.
If one word comes to mind looking at this list, it's probably "underwhelming". Apart from the Vermette deal, the Coyotes typically don't tend to make a big splash at the deadline. Granted, Vermette should be a hotter commodity now, and other players like Zbynek Michalek and the aforementioned Erat probably have higher upside than Sullivan or Torres did. But it is still unlikely that a franchise defining move is going to be made in March.