The Edmonton Oilers’ CEO recently made the news after making comments about the play of former Coyote Tobias Rieder. Rieder has since responded in probably as diplomatically a way as possible when your boss publicly calls you. While Rieder isn’t having the best season, he is far from the biggest reason for Edmonton’s struggles this season. Unfortunately Rieder is just one of a few recent Arizona Coyotes who have struggled in Edmonton or had their NHL careers come to an end soon after going from Arizona to Edmonton.
The then Phoenix Coyotes signed Rob Klinkhammer during the 2012 offseason and he would initially spend time in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. He did get called up during his first season and would score five goals and six assists in his first 22 games. His play was good enough that he would spend the entire 2013-14 season with the Yotes where he would register eleven goals and nine assists. Ultimately the Coyotes would trade Klinkhammer to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Philip Samuelsson in December of 2014.
Later during the 2014-15 season the Penguins would send a first-round pick and Klinkhammer to the Edmonton Oilers for David Perron. In 40 games with the Oilers Klinkhammer would tally a goal and two assists, enough to earn him a one-year extension. The 2015-16 season would see Klinkhammer splitting time between the Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors, and in his final fourteen games in the NHL he would register a single goal and no assists.
Since the 2015-16 season Klinkhammer has spent time in the KHL playing with HC Dinamo Minsk and the Ak Bars Kazan.
Unlike Klinkhammer, Korpikoski managed to play in the NHL after playing for the Edmonton Oilers. After six season with the Coyotes where he would tally 62 goals and 83 assists, Arizona traded Korpikoski to the Oilers in for Boyd Gordon. After scoring ten goals and twelve assists during the 2015-16 season the Oilers would buy out the remaining year of Korpikoski’s four-year, $10 million contract. He would sign a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars, splitting the 2016-17 season between Dallas and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Korpikoski would sign on with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League and has also played with TPS Turku in the SM-Iiiga league in Finland.
After spending seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Boyd Gordon found success with the Phoenix Coyotes as a penalty killer and one of the best faceoff artists on the team. The Oilers would sign Gordon as a free agent to a three-year, $9 million deal, but after two years they were ready to move him. The Coyotes would eventually reacquire him in the previously mentioned Korpikoski trade, and he would play in 64 games with Arizona registering two goals and two assists. During the 2016 offseason he would sign a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, only playing in thirteen games with the Flyers and spending time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Boyd Gordon appears to have retired from professional hockey and is not currently playing.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be remembered for some of the best quotes in hockey. But before he was pondering the nature of the universe on HBO he spent four season with the Coyotes as their starting goaltender. He would sign a humongous big nine-year, $41.88 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, which would prove to be a mistake for the Flyers. After two years into a nine year contract, his contract would be bought out and he would be out of a job. He would be one of six goaltenders to play for the Oilers during the 2013-14 season, along with another former goaltender Jason LaBabera. The Oilers traded him to the Minnesota Wild where he would play twelve games. The 2014-15 season would the end of Bryzgalov’s career, playing two games with the Norfolk Admirals and his final eight games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks.
Bryzgalov hasn’t played professional hockey since finishing his career in Anaheim, although he has been active. For a deeper dive check out Pucks of a Feather’s look into his career and life beyond.
LaBarbera spent four season with the Coyotes, backing up both Ilya Bryzgalov and Mike Smith after he was brought in. Before Smith’s first training camp there was talk of it being anyone’s crease, so Barbs could have potentially been the starter if Mike Smith hadn’t found massive success in his first season with the Coyotes. He would sign with the Oilers where he would back up Devan Dubnyk during Dubnyk’s last season in Edmonton. LaBarbera would get traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013-14 season where he would play for the Rockford Icehogs exclusively. He would play his last five games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014-15 season, a season that also saw him play with the Norfolk Admirals. LaBarbera would ultimately sign with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2015 offseason spending the entire season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Since retiring from playing Jason LaBarbera has been the goaltending coach of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.
So what can we learn from all of this? For many of these players their time with the Coyotes was the high point of their careers and they would struggle when removed from Arizona’s system. Going to Edmonton wasn’t always a career killer, but it ended up coinciding with the decline of their NHL careers. Edmonton hasn’t been the best run organization over the past few years, but the fact that Edmonton acquired a lot of players who didn’t have NHL careers after playing for them is telling. Probably the biggest lesson though is if you have played for the Coyotes you should probably avoid signing with Edmonton, and if you can work that into your free agent contract it will probably help you out. As for Tobias Rieder, he will hopefully be able to find success post-Edmonton.