Tobias Rieder has officially requested a trade from the Arizona Coyotes via his agent. With training camp well underway, the odds of Arizona and Rieder coming to terms on a deal before the season starts diminish with each passing day.
Rieder either needs a contract with Arizona or a trade by December if he wants to play in the NHL this season. And much like the Winnipeg Jets with Jacob Trouba, the Coyotes have significantly more leverage than Rieder does.
So what does Arizona’s NHL roster look like with Rieder in the fold? And what would it look like if he did not dress for the Coyotes this season?
The Depth Chart With and Without Rieder
Here’s what Arizona’s NHL line-up looks like with Rieder on the left wing (the Coyotes list him as a right-wing for training camp purposes, but the analysis is not dramatically different depending on what side he plays). Let's also assume that Arizona carries eight defensemen and thirteen forwards:
Max Domi - OPEN - Radim Vrbata
Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Anthony Duclair
Jamie McGinn - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan
Jordan Martinook - Ryan White - OPEN
This is probably the perfect situation for the Coyotes; there are two or three open roster spots for younger players to take, predominantly in depth roles where the pressure will be less extreme. For most of Arizona’s prospect pool, the bottom-six is the best place to ease in to the NHL.
Losing Tobias Rieder opens up a second slot in the top-six, which is far less ideal for the Coyotes. So how could they address that problem?
The most likely option would be to promote from within. Arizona thankfully has a variety of options on the left side to offset the loss of Rieder. Michael Bunting has put together a solid training camp with the Coyotes thus far to follow up a 25 point campaign with Springfield last year.
Additionally, Lawson Crouse is pushing to make the NHL this season, and would immediately be the largest Coyote on the wing (only 6' 6" Martin Hanzal is taller than Crouse's 6' 4"). Meanwhile, the Coyotes envision Conor Garland playing on his off-wing, which would add yet another explosive presence on the left side in an already fast line-up.
Also in the running would be Brendan Perlini, as well as Christian Fischer, Stefan Fourneir, and Henrik Samuelsson if the Coyotes need another body on the right. The Coyotes have some options within their system to fill Rieder's spot if his holdout carries into the season.
The Coyotes could also look around and sign a veteran forward like Alex Tanguay or Brad Boyes to a stopgap contract. But they would be committed to that player for the full season, and nobody available in free agency is going to be in the team's long-term plans.
So promotion from the prospect pool is Arizona's best option. Training camp will be a great opportunity for Arizona's young forwards to prove they deserve the roster spot.
Losing Rieder would definitely be a setback for the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have just started recovering from the talent drain of losing Kyle Turris, Blake Wheeler, Viktor Tikhonov, and Mikkel Boedker. Losing Rieder would be another tough break for a franchise that has struggled to hold on to top-tier talent.
But Arizona has been making a concerted effort to get new players in the pipeline at every position. Losing Rieder would be bad, but it might not be the same gigantic loss that it would have been one or two years ago.