The Arizona Coyotes are now the talk of the NHL, though not entirely for good reasons.
Earlier today the Coyotes announced that they had acquired Jarred Tinordi and Stefan Fournier in a three-way trade that sent Stefan Elliott to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Victor Bartley, and then Barkley and John Scott to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Tinordi and Fournier.
So who are the two newest members of the Coyotes organization? What did all three teams accomplish with this move? And why is an otherwise unremarkable trade engendering so much controversy?
Meet the New Guys
Tinordi has been in the trade rumor mill for months now. As this profile by SB Nation's Montreal site Habs Eyes on the Prize suggests, Tinordi is a great skater, a good penalty killer, and a big body. But unfortunately for Montreal, the NHL's waiver rules, coupled with the Habs' depth, prevented Tinordi from seeing much more than the inside of the press box for much of this season.
As a result, Tinordi has only played three games for Montreal this season. Yet, in what measurements we have, Tinordi has made the most of his time. He posted a 50.1% Score Adjusted Corsi in 13 appearances last season, and an even better 51.8% Score Adjusted Corsi in 22 appearances in the 2013-14 season.
The other component in this trade - Stefan Fournier - is meant to replace what the Coyotes lost in Scott; a guy who can fight. In 24 games with the St. John's IceCaps, Fournier had five goals, two assists, and 65 penalty minutes. He's going straight to the AHL per the Coyotes, so for now it looks like the Coyotes will carry eight defensemen along with Kevin Connauton.
What Got Accomplished?
The Coyotes pick up a big body who can kill penalties, which has become an immediate priority in recent weeks. And if Tinordi's upside is to be believed, the Coyotes may have picked up a decent puck mover who can play in the bottom four pairing.
Nashville gets Stefan Elliott, which should help to bolster some of the depth they lost in the Seth Jones - Ryan Johansen trade. Elliott has not been bad for the Coyotes, and should be able to fit in at the 6/7 role for the Predators.
What Montreal gets out of this is a little puzzling. They acquire Bartley, who has a goal and 22 assists in 111 NHL contests. He's 27 and is not going to challenge for playing time, which is perhaps what the Habs wanted. They saw a player wasting away in the press box, and decided to pick up a guy in Bartley who could make more with less, and who would be unlikely to get claimed on waivers for nothing should they decide to demote him at some point.
But why John Scott? What do the Habs get with him? As it turns out, it may not be Montreal who pushed to include him in the deal.
TSN's Bob McKenzie - widely considered to be one of the better informed sources in the hockey world - included this piece of news that has spread like wildfire around the hockey world:
John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused. Trade likely takes care of that— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 15, 2016
For the record, this is what Coyotes' General Manager Don Maloney had to say in response to McKenzie's allegation:
Coyotes GM Don Maloney on trading John Scott: pic.twitter.com/JmbrrbmRug— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) January 15, 2016
At the very least, there's a smidgen of truth to this; Elliott only cost the Coyotes $650,000, while both Tinordi and Fournier combine to cost the Coyotes a little over $900,000, per General Fanager. Including Scott's $575,000 salary in the deal means the Coyotes come out in the black on this move.
But is all of this really over slightly more than $300,000 in actual salary? It theoretically makes a black-eye for the NHL go away, and it's not like the additional salary is going to break the bank for the Habs, one of the most profitable franchises in the league.
And to top it all off, the timing could not be any worse for Scott. His wife is expecting twins soon, in addition to the two kids his family already has. And as much as the All-Star Game may not matter to hardcore fans, there's a million reasons that it might matter to someone like Scott.
ASG players compete for $1 million split and get bonuses. I like to think John Scott, his wife and soon-to-be four kids would've liked that.— Pat Iversen (@Pat_Iversen) January 15, 2016
For a guy who already doesn't get paid much and has a highly insecure job in today's NHL, that's a one-two gut punch that even Scott wouldn't throw on another enforcer.
So from a roster standpoint, the Coyotes seem to have improved on this deal. It will be interesting to see how long the Coyotes continue with eight defensemen on the roster.
But it isn't without controversy. And it's a mess of the team and the league's own making. We wish the best to John Scott and his family in what has undoubtedly been a topsy-turvy season.