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The Arizona Coyotes Could Make One More Offseason Splash

The preseason is less than a month away and John Chayka said he has one more move he’d like to make. It should be this one.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The talk of the offseason hasn’t been the free agent market. The UFA market alone has been one of the slimmest in recent memory. Many of the big names signed before hitting the open market and almost all of the arbitration cases settled outside of conference rooms.

Where the offseason fire has been is around the trading of high-level talents. The Coyotes made an enormous splash by moving longtime goaltender Mike Smith while acquiring Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Blackhawks reacquired Brandon Saad, after flipping him to Columbus to sign Artemi Panarin two seasons before. The talented but embattled forward Jonathan Drouin was flipped to Montreal from Tampa for perhaps the best defensive prospect in hockey.

Speculation has run amok. Top players on vulnerable teams are being moved more than ever and it’s interesting how the market for FAs is dead but the desperation for change and improvement remains.

And therein lies the opportunity. Teams feel like they’re close while other GMs just need to move pieces. And one of the biggest rumored pieces that has yet to be moved is Matt Duchene.

There was a time where Coyotes fans thought Arizona could be a home for Duchene. We have the pieces, the cap and, before Stepan, the depth chart need. However that time has passed, yet opportunity remains.

Matt Duchene has been itching to get out of Denver, and there are a few teams who are itching to have him, but nothing seems to be aligning just right, with the consensus being that Colorado GM Joe Sakic’s price is astronomically high.

None the less, it was made clear today that Matt Duchene may have a preferred choice of relocation (reposted on Twitter via Duchene’s Instagram).

The Nashville Predators need a #2 center, and they need someone who can replace the scoring they lost in James Neal. The Avs want lots of pieces and want to continue to build, despite claiming to not be rebuilding. The Arizona Coyotes lay in the middle, with both pieces to gain and loose.

Here, I suggest, should be John Chayka’s last stand for the summer of 2017. He has a chance to run the tables on making summer trades and complete the filling of every hole that last season left glaringly open.

The Trade

Why This Works For Arizona:

The Coyotes need to hit the cap floor. Arizona has too many centers and utility forwards, yet not enough dedicated right wings. This deal satisfied all those needs to a degree. The Coyotes have been interested in Pontus Aberg for a long while now and his success in last season’s playoffs only emboldened John Chayka to push for him before the Vegas Expansion Draft.

Moreover, this deal satisfies the issue of what to do with Brad Richardson. He’s a great player whose season got washed last year, but he doesn’t quite jive with the direction of the team. On top of that, the acquisition of a much younger Nick Cousins only signals that Chayka’s need for the center as a stopgap has passed.

Now, Arizona just drafted P.O. Joseph and there is nothing wrong with the player, but he’s buried on the depth chart at LHD and Colorado could use that talent in their system now. Getting that high 2nd/1st is basically the same pick but a year removed. It’s not a redo from picking a bad player, but it’s a redo to get the team a scoring RW at this moment.

Finally, this move as presented, would draw Arizona roughly 100K closer to the cap floor or so. By retaining 25% of Duchene’s deal and taking on Aberg’s 650k, the Coyotes assume 2.150 million in salary, while dumping 2.083 million from Richardson. It’s a little, but it gets the team closer while filling needs.

Why This Works For Colorado:

The Avs need pieces, and they’ve made it clear that one defensive prospect won’t see this deal through alone. They’ve reportedly pushed for current top-4 defensemen, but if that’s entirely true and not media talk, then Sakic is insane. That caliber of player is not easily exchanged, let alone for someone with 1 year left of control.

Though it appears Duchene wants to be in Nashville, so draw up the price of what you can get for that kind of trade: blue-chip defensive prospects. Sam Girard is near NHL ready, and on a Colorado roster in desperate for bodies, let alone talent, he would slot right into the NHL team. Moreover, Joseph fits Colorado’s long term growth projection. Yes, the Coyotes just drafted Joseph, but he’s deep on the depth chart and getting that high pick as compensation for a late 1st in 2017 is a good price to pay for Arizona.

Finally, losing Duchene means Colorado needs a center to be a warm body. Brad Richardson can give them scoring, earn himself power play and penalty kill minutes whilst playing on his final year, meaning the odds of being flipped at the deadline for assets is good and thus vaulting him to a shot with a Cup contender.

That conditional pick is just icing to finally grease Sakic’s palms.

Why This Works For Nashville:

This really isn’t a hard question. Nashville needed that center depth last year. They still need it. Nashville wants that 2nd scoring center and they’re willing to part with some future pieces now to win now.

Girard would have to fight to break into that stellar Top 4, but not in Colorado. Aberg is a small price to pay given the pieces the Preds have added and even more so considering they’d reclaim a pick around the same slot as they picked Aberg a few years ago. Of all the teams in this deal, Nashville is in win-now mode, and this move would show it.

In the End

Would a deal happen exactly like this? Probably not.

Could it happen like this? Absolutely.

When would it happen? At 2:30 AM, when John Chayka does his best trade negotiating.

{Man. Ed. Note: John Chayka doesn’t sleep... he waits.}

This deal would be hard to do. Conditions are tricky to work out and Sakic has been tight-fisted with Duchene all summer, but this setup seems to make everybody happy. Nashville would likely make a stronger cup run than last year, Arizona would fill it’s holes, and Colorado gets some young blueline talent they desperately need.

John Chayka has said he’s not done, and this is, in fact, an opportunity. Maybe the value of the prospects and picks are off. I’m not a GM in the modern NHL, but it makes sense to me, and if it works, David Poile and John Chayka will be fighting for GM of the year this next season, while Sakic could join them 4 years from now following some strong internal development (also known as a full-blown rebuild).