Every hockey fan should read Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet. It is a great source of information, even if you doesn’t always feature a lot of Arizona Coyotes news. Last week Friedman had three key pieces that would interest Coyotes fans though, and I wanted to dig deeper into them.
1. Here’s my sense of what’s going on with Phil Kessel: he vetoed a trade to Minnesota and the story is out because both teams are unhappy. . . My guess is Arizona would be high on his choice of destinations, but I don’t see an easy fit. The Penguins want scoring in return and the Coyotes finished 28th in goals-for.
Ahh the Kessel to Arizona trade rumors continue to be a thing. It makes a lot of sense, Arizona needs scoring which Kessel could provide and coach Rick Tocchet apparently has a great relationship with Kessel going back to Tocchet’s time in Pittsburgh. There are definite concerns with Kessel, and the fact that another team seems poised to move on from him, but maybe Tocchet can work wonders with him again in the desert.
Arizona could definitely use a player like Kessel. He has scored over twenty goals every season since his sophomore season in Boston, and has scored thirty-plus goals six times. Last season he had 27 goals and 55 assists, almost twice as many points as any Coyotes’ player. Arizona hasn’t a player who scored 27 goals since the 2015-16 season, which featured Shane Doan notching 28 goals. The Coyotes need to score more, and Kessel could definitely help them do that.
But while it makes a lot of sense it doesn’t seem likely to happen. The Coyotes are a notoriously cash strapped team and Kessel will be making $7 million for his next two seasons, followed by two seasons of $6 million. Its possible that with a potential new owner the team may get more money, and Pittsburgh may be willing to retain some salary, but for now this remains just a rumor that refuses to die.
14. Jim Hiller has talked to Arizona and Nashville, and probably others.
This was a real shock and honestly the reason this article exists. For those unfamiliar Hiller was an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, running the offense and power play. Toronto’s power play was eighth in the league last season, and Hiller has been linked to the success of Detroit’s power play a few years back.
Its no secret that the Coyotes offense struggled this past season. Arizona scored the fourth fewest goals and their power play was the fifth worst in the league. Fans seem to have placed a large amount of blame on Coyotes assistant coach John MacLean. If not for Craig Morgan stating a few times that the team would be keeping MacLean a move like this would make sense. Morgan is the go to source for Coyotes information and a few months ago he seemed very confident that the team made up their mind, so with the team starting to talk to others you have to wonder if something has changed.
Unfortunately Friedman doesn’t go into details about when this happened. It makes the most sense for it to have happened after the Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs. That happened after Morgan said the team would be staying with MacLean, so while its possible that Coyotes’ management spoke with Hiller before they made the decision to retain MacLean its unlikely. Maybe the team has had a change of heart when the chance to bring in Hiller was one that they couldn’t pass up. Like the above Kessel rumors its also possible that this is in some way related to a potential ownership change, with the new owner having faith in MacLean.
There is also a very strong possibility that the team was just doing their due diligence. They had a chance to talk with Hiller, but they are still satisfied with MacLean and this changes nothing. For the time being we are just going to have to wait and see how things pan out.
24. The Arizona sale is expected to be on the agenda of the Board of Governors’ meeting during Awards week in Vegas.
What surprises me about this is the lack of information about the potential new owner. Honestly Coyotes sales stories have been appearing for years, but it seems to have progressed pretty far if its going to be going to the Board of Governors. While its no secret that Anthony Barroway has been looking to add another partner, I’ve seen enough prospective owners to be skeptical until the papers are signed.