The Arizona Coyotes are having one of their best starts to a season in recent memory, but they are far from being a finished product.
The Coyotes finished the 2018/19 season with the joint-best penalty killing unit in the entire league, but this season have struggled more often and find their unit sitting 16th overall.
While having arguably the strongest goaltending tandem in the league, adding skaters that can provide extra defensive support is something the team’s management should consider looking into.
One player that could be of interest for the Coyotes is Toronto Maple Leafs centreman Nick Shore, who has found himself play a rotational role with the likes of Jason Spezza since arriving during the off-season.
With superstar Mitch Marner returning from injury, Shore has found himself the odd-man-out in Toronto and has been placed on waivers by the team.
Shore is a steady defensive player, with a career Corsi rating of 54.7% despite starting in the offensive zone just 49% of the time.
This season, his Corsi rating currently sits at 43.7%, but he has found himself starting in the offensive zone just 17.4% of the time with the Maple Leafs. This is likely a big reason why he has just two goals and one assist in 21 games to date.
He is reliable in the face-off circle, with a career success rate of 50.6%, winning 54.4% of draws this season alone.
The fact that Shore is a centre by trade is another reason why he might be of interest to the Arizona Coyotes, with head coach Rick Tocchet preferring to have an abundance of natural centres on his team to allow for rotations where he sees fit.
The 26-year-old journeyman isn’t an offensive player by any stretch of the imagination, with just 17 goals and 56 total points in 257 career regular season games in the show.
But his defensive work could make him an interesting piece for Tocchet’s team, helping to provide a defence-first centre that can help kill penalties and focus purely on that side of the ice.
With Brad Richardson’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, by which time he will have turned 35 years old, Shore could have the potential to become a long-term, cheaper replacement for the veteran.
His current $750,000 deal is largely negligible, though will need to see someone such as Michael Chaput placed on waivers to accommodate, so financially there is little risk for the Coyotes if they were to make a claim.
The team has shown this season that they are happy to make a claim on an asset they could potentially either use or move at a later date, with Shore having similar value.
In the short-term, Shore could provide great defensive play and be a special teams specialist, while in the long-term he could either become an integral part of the team’s back end or be moved on for assets close to the trade deadline.
General manager John Chayka is the kind of man that looks at every possible way to improve the team and making a waiver claim on the Denver, Colorado native could be just one in a number of moves he makes this season to see what might work.