With the Free Agent Frenzy well under way in the NHL and the busiest day of the FA period over, the situation in Arizona has seen the FA headlines dominated more by departures in FA than arrivals. Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata are the key departures, but the list of players leaving is far longer than that of those arriving as John Chayka looks to re-tool his team and depth in the organization.
So, as the first weekend of free agency ends, here's a rundown of all the moves in Arizona so far.
D Adam Clendening (from New York Rangers)
It seems strange to be calling the arrival of a "depth defenseman" from New York one of the highlights of free agency so far, but it's the high point for the Coyotes. Shortly, there'll be a "Meet the New Guy" article in which we explain why in greater detail, but the signing of a strong, two-way defenseman who is far better than teams give him credit for with the chance to really contribute to the team is a very good start to FA.
F Zac Rinaldo (from Boston Bruins)
This is, at its very best, a signing with "mixed" reactions. Those who think hockey is all about hitting hard will love it. The problem is that Rinaldo hasn't really shown he can do anything else, has a history of suspensions (including one he's currently serving which means he'll have to sit for five games on the NHL roster before he can actually suit up for the Coyotes) and is very much a player brought in for physical play rather than any goal-scoring ability. It's, at best, a depth move for Tucson. Certainly, without some major changes to his game, Rinaldo probably doesn't merit a spot in the Coyotes' lineup.
F Mike Sislo (from Toronto Marlies, AHL)
A slightly older version of Rinaldo, the 29 year-old-forward is another piece to bolster the Tucson roster. With only 42 NHL games under his belt, he's likely in the same spot on the depth chart too. May make the NHL fourth line, but the Coyotes will have to be very light on players (due to injury) for that to happen too.
D Andrew Campbell (from Toronto Marlies, AHL)
Captain of the Leafs' AHL affiliate last year, Campbell is a solid AHL, two-way defenseman who, again, will likely spend his time in Tucson. Useful enough at the AHL level, and has, in fact, played 33 games for the Coyotes at NHL level (in the 2014/15 season), but don't expect to see him on Gila River ice in an NHL game anytime too soon.
D Joel Hanley (from St John's Icecaps, AHL)
Like Campbell, Hanley is a solid AHL defenseman who's spent a few games at NHL level but is another probably signed to bolster the blueline in Tucson. Another who'll likely only see Gila River ice in case of injury troubles, but solid enough to give the Roadrunners good service. Another AHL move.
So far the Coyotes have only signed one player in FA (as opposed to extending contracts of those who've already arrived in Nick Cousins) who has a legitimate chance of being on the NHL roster on opening night and that's Clendening. None of the contracts break into seven figures, but Clendening could turn out to be one of the bargains of FA season this year.
F Shane Doan
We've written about the departure of the Coyotes captain at length, but he's taking his time choosing a new destination. His agent Terry Bross says four teams are interested, but with the forward on vacation, it'll be a while before his new destination is known.
F Radim Vrbata (to Florida Panthers)
The fan-favorite winger is done in Arizona (again) after he wasn't offered a contract at the end of this season. He's another player who the Coyotes org hates to lose, but he was very complimentary of the Coyotes organization upon leaving, and clearly, leaves on good terms with the management.
F Josh Jooris (to Carolina Hurricanes)
Jooris, like many on this list, never really found their feet in Arizona. 10 points in 42 games as a bottom-six forward made him expendable and he departed without much fanfare.
F Alex Burmistrov (to Tampa Bay Lightning)
Another mid-season waiver pickup (from Vancouver), Burmistrov showed flashes of talent as a creative center, but with a logjam at the position, was always likely to be one of the odd men out and was allowed to leave without any real regret.
F Peter Holland (to Montreal Canadiens)
This is going to sound like we're repeating ourselves, but as a bottom-six C in a crowded depth chart, Holland was yet another waiver claim whose stay in Arizona was brief. Despite his 11 points in 40 games, he was always considered to be a stopgap solution.
F Grayson Downing (to Edmonton Oilers)
Acquired as a make-weight in the Martin Hanzal trade, Downing left as unnoticeably as he'd arrived, after an anonymous 12 games in Tucson.
D Jamie McBain (to Tampa Bay Lightning)
The end of the road came for the NHL bottom-pair/AHL blueliner McBain, who gave sterling service when called upon in Arizona, but was always likely to be bid farewell when his contract ended.
D Zbynek Michalek
It's farewell to a Coyotes stalwart, as Michalek finally decided that his time had run out in the desert at age 34. There's a good chance he'll say farewell to the NHL too, but he'll leave having left a permanent footprint in the desert.
D Jarred Tinordi (to Pittsburgh Penguins)
This is interesting because it's something of a surprise that the former hot prospect in Montreal wasn't even tendered an offer in Arizona, but it appears the organization saw no further need of him and allowed him to head to Pittsburgh for (presumably) AHL time in Wilkes-Barre.
G Chad Johnson (to Buffalo Sabres)
Surely one of the shortest tenures as a goalie for a team ever, Johnson's second stint in Arizona lasted only two weeks of the offseason, as another make-weight in the Mike Smith trade was allowed to leave after being rendered the odd goalie out on the NHL roster thanks to the arrival of Antti Raanta.
F’s Chris Mueller, Jeremy Morin, Garret Ross, Joe Whitney, Mitch Moroz, Branden Troock (from Tucson)
These members of the Coyotes AHL roster were allowed to leave without resistance. Of all of them, Mueller, with 67 AHL points last year, is probably the best of them, which tells you something about how minor their departures are.
So far, Free Agency has seen well...very little happen in Arizona. A summer clearout, if anything. No big names, only one NHL-caliber FA arrival, which is why the departures have been the story so far as FA has begun, with moves that have failed to really make a big impact on the NHL landscape.
However, with the Coyotes now in full hunt for a right-wing to play in the top six, it'll be interesting to see what other teams' FA actions have on a trade market which is still bubbling away. Perhaps that's where we'll really see the action this summer in Arizona.
As the days heat up, so do the telephone wires at the Gila River Arena, after all.