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FFH Round Table: How did John Chayka Do?

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Time to look at our young GM. How did he do in his first season?

2016 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Did John Chayka have a good first season as GM? This is also a popular question around the internet this postseason. Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments!

Sarah

John Chayka started out with a bang, drafting Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun at his first draft. Signing Alex Goligoski a few days before did set the tone of how he seemed to approach each position. He was able to manipulate the cap for the Coyotes own good and keep them above the floor. Picking up players on waivers helped grow the team without selling off assets. He also helped bolster a struggling Roadrunner’s team with some decent trades to help them. Overall, he did an amazing job, including the trade for Martin Hanzal and Ryan White. Now we just have to see what happens with the Expansion Draft and where the Coyotes land in the draft lottery.

Carl

I think his drafting strategy this past year was solid, he made smart uses of the cap space, and I like his return for Martin Hanzal. I would have liked to see him make more moves at the deadline, a trade to give Doan a shot at the Cup or maybe a return for Radim Vrbata, but I think there are a lot of off-ice reasons to potentially not make those moves, so I can’t fault him too much. All in all, I think he did a very good job, especially for his first season as a GM.

Michael

John Chayka did an excellent job in his first year as GM. I don’t think there is anything I can fault him on, including the potential Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata trades. I think he would have done those deals if he was offered something worthwhile in return, but clearly he wasn’t. Plus, Doan’s chances of winning the cup at another team would have still been pretty slim and now he has the opportunity to join the club of elite, one-franchise players that is even more exclusive than winning it all.

Taylor

John Chayka had a good first year as GM. He drafted well with Clayton Keller and then snagging Chychrun, who both have obviously been huge. He tried to make a few key successful off-season acquisitions. Not all of those acquisitions worked out, but the correct intention was there and there are always risks. It’s possible I get yelled at for this but I think a true test of Chayka will be whether or not he re-signs Shane Doan. Doan has been amazing for the franchise but at some point, the future has to be taken into consideration. Keeping Doan only hinders the team talent wise.

Joe V

Great, if not incredible, job. Alex Goligoski and Jamie McGinn may not have made much noise this year, but with an offense as anemic as the Coyotes' was at time, they weren't necessarily put in a position to shine. Chayka's first NHL Entry Draft was nothing short of legendary, as Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun have become two of the most exciting prospects in an organization that already had more than its fair share exciting prospects. Lastly, his deadline Hanzal deal, even if it was bittersweet to see such a beloved player depart, was a heist. Join me in cheering for the Wild this postseason so that conditional 2019 4th rounder turns into a 2nd!

Brendan

I have to say, managing to snag both Jakob Chychrun and Clayton Keller in the first round is quite impressive. And behavioral issues aside, Anthony DeAngelo has a ton of offensive talent. That being said, Chayka’s free agent acquisitions (Alex Goligoski, Luke Schenn, & Jamie McGinn) have been underwhelming. How he responds to a weaker draft and this summer’s free agent crop will be very important.

Tyler

Chayka did a good job, but I refuse to believe there was nobody offering for Radim Vrbata. He should have taken what he could get knowing Vrbata would most likely be returning through free agency (again). His legacy will be determined through the next couple years once he has developed the pipeline instead of inheriting a well-built prospect pool.

Zack

I think he did a decent job. I believe his best is yet to come. We will make a big splash in the next couple years to come because of the youth leadership we have. I am a firm believer in that you need veterans to help the youngsters out. Hopefully, he gets some vets to sign here in the desert.

Alex

I personally think he did a great job under the circumstances. The Alex Goligoski and Jamie McGinn signings didn’t always look great, but the way he drafted and acquired talent quickly using the cap and roster spaces he had available was surely impressive. I can’t wait to see what he does when there is actually some developed talent to manage.

Jack

Time will tell, but I think a few shrewd moves during the draft time last year really clicked. For starters, Jakob Chychrun looks like a rock solid defenseman at the least, one who could co-anchor the blue line with OEL for a long time. Then, he swindled a trade that yielded a promising, young player like Anthony DeAngelo, another overlooked move that added a needed scoring touch to the roster. It's a small sample size to judge him on, but that kind of maneuvering and talent evaluation will be key in future drafts. The Coyotes are never going to be big spenders, and indicting him on a couple of average signings seems a bit premature. As I said, time will tell, but there were some promising moments that make me feel confident the analytical Chayka has the ability to be exactly the GM the Coyotes need.

Brandon

Overall I was pretty impressed. He managed to pick up both Keller and Chychrun (who has proven to be a steal at 16th overall) in the first round, managed to lure a premier free agent to a team that’s been riddled with instability (unfortunately he hasn’t played like one…), and landed us two more impressive rookies in Lawson Crouse and Anthony DeAngelo for very low cost. And those were just his first few months. While some fans criticize him for it, I like that he’s continued Maloney’s trend of using the team’s cap space as an asset.

Let’s face it, with the budget constraints, we know the team wouldn’t be spending all that cap space on serviceable NHLers, so why not use it to help make the team more competitive? He’s also continued Maloney’s practice of picking up players off of the waiver wire, which has resulted in two consistent NHLers in Alexander Burmistrov and Josh Jooris and two jury’s-still-out guys in Peter Holland and Teemu Pulkkinen.

Lastly, he hit an absolute home run in the Hanzal trade. Yes, the Goligoski signing has backfired big time (although he was playing much better toward the end of the season), and McGinn has been a complete non-factor, but I’d say the Vrbata signing makes up for that, and he was able to land Schenn on a very reasonable contract. All in all, I can’t complain too much.

Seth

I think he did splendidly. The trade for Chychrun looks amazing early and while Goligoski doesn’t look like a home run now, it cost almost nothing to make that trade and the move was still incredibly shrewd. But, what impresses me most, is his willingness and ability to get creative and use cap space as an asset to better the team’s overall standing. And selling high on Hanzal further stockpiles the asset cupboard enough to make a key move going forward. The team is placed incredibly well headed into the draft. Maybe those picks and a prospect or two can land a MacKinnon-caliber player? The possibilities are promising. With an expansion draft and actual draft right around the corner, I’m anxious to see how Chayka plans to use this offseason to turn those assets into big league players -- and hopefully, a playoff berth.

Paul

I’m a HUGE fan of Chayka. He’s a young dynamic GM who thinks of the game the way it should be thought and is clearly unafraid to take new approaches and angles in a sport traditionally not known for innovation in the front office. The Hanzal trade was frankly sorcery, and has given the Yotes a solid base. I’m confident in him going forward that he’ll carry the improvement further.