When the Arizona Coyotes traded Mikkel Boedker to the Colorado Avalanche for Alex Tanguay, Kyle Wood, and Connor Bleackley, Wood and Bleackley (or at least, the second round compensatory pick Arizona would get if they opted not to sign Bleackley) were thought of as the primary return.
But Alex Tanguay, a veteran of 1070 NHL games before the season started and a Stanley Cup champion, probably deserved more respect than that. His first five games in an Arizona Coyotes sweater show why.
Tanguay has three goals and three assists so far with the Coyotes, and has also seemingly rejuvenated Antoine Vermette, who has four goals and five assists since Tanguay arrived.
So what do the Coyotes make of Tanguay? Is he in the middle of a white-hot scoring streak? Is he making up for a down year in Colorado? And most importantly, does his performance so far warrant another contract from the Coyotes this summer?
Tanguay's Up and Down Year
Tanguay came into the 2015-16 season after a 22 goal, 33 assist year with the Avs. After 52 games, he had just four goals and eighteen assists. It was a disappointing follow-up year for Tanguay, but it was also a highly unusual one.
Tanguay had posted a career shooting percentage of 18.7. That number reflects the fact that Tanguay has never been a prolific shooter in his career, but when he does shoot, his shots tend to go in. Before coming to the Coyotes, Tanguay was shooting at an 8.2% clip, which is well below half of his normal average. It was also the first time in Tanguay's entire career that he shot below 11%.
Even though players tend to become less productive as they get older, their production doesn't normally fall off a cliff. Tanguay seemed to be experiencing some bad luck, which started to correct itself almost immediately after arriving in Arizona.
Arizona's Roster Situation
Assuming the Coyotes do not bring back any of their unrestricted free agents on offense, this is what their roster would look like when free agency begins:
Max Domi - Antoine Vermette - Open
Anthony Duclair - Martin Hanzal - Tobias Rieder
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Open
Sergei Plotnikov - Open - Open/Jiri Sekac
Odds are Shane Doan fills the third line vacancy if he chooses to return for another year, while Tyler Gaudet has the inside track on the fourth line center position. That theoretically leaves two spots open.
The obvious preference would be to give Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak the opportunity to crack the lineup; indeed it seems highly likely that Strome snags the remaining top-six spot. So that leaves one depth spot for somebody to take.
Tanguay doesn't seem like a good fit for such a depth role. He can still contribute at a healthy clip, and his second half performance will likely translate to a decent contract offer from a team looking for a veteran presence in their top-nine.
If Doan does decide to hang up his skates however, then Tanguay would be a very compelling option both to help the young players continue to find their way in the NHL and to maintain some of the chemistry he's created with Vermette thus far.
Alex Tanguay is going to sign a short-term deal somewhere this summer. And that team is likely going to get great value for his services. But if the Coyotes roster stays more or less the way it is now, it probably won't be the Coyotes that Tanguay plays for next year.