At the time of writing, the Coyotes and Senators are effectively the polar opposites in terms of cap space and draft picks - with the former having very little of either while the latter seems to have an endless amount of both.
Before taking Marian Hossa’s contract, which will be used for LTIR relief, into account, the Coyotes have just over $1.1 million in space below the flat $81.5 million cap ceiling.
With Hossa placed on LTIR, this does stretch them to just under $6.5 million, but that is still not enough to make significant improvements to the team next season.
In terms of draft capital, the Coyotes have just four picks in the 2020 Draft, with the first of those picks coming in the fourth round, and just nine picks in total between 2020 and 2021.
The Senators, meanwhile, need to reach the cap floor this season and currently have a whopping $43.26 million available in cap space and nine draft picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 Draft alone - 22 picks in total between this year and next.
This naturally would make the two organizations the ideal partners to work together to address their needs, with one team desperately needing to get rid of a hefty contract and add some draft picks, while the other could utilize its abundance of picks to help take on a deal that benefits them both financially, but potentially in on-ice production as well.
The contract that would arguably benefit the Coyotes and Senators the most, would be Derek Stepan’s. The 30-year-old center has just one year remaining on his contract, which holds a cap hit of $6.5 million.
The Ottawa Senators are notorious for not wanting to pay big money in recent years while they work through their rebuild, but that’s where Stepan could be more enticing for them.
Stepan’s deal will pay him $5 million in real money next season, but $3 million of which is paid as an upfront signing bonus - with a base salary of just $2 million spread across the 2020/21 season.
The Coyotes have an owner that has deep pockets and needs to do something to reinvigorate the fanbase after a disappointing showing the playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche was followed by the NHL’s punishment for the team’s illegal testing of draft-eligible players.
If Alex Meruelo wants to help his team to improve, he will take the $3 million signing bonus hit to accommodate a deal with the Senators, who could use Stepan’s experience, veteran leadership, and offensive potential.
Stepan has struggled to produce for the Coyotes over the past two seasons, with their stifling defensive style not suiting the former regular 50+ point producer’s personal skill set.
For the Senators, however, they play an open offensive scheme that would help Stepan regain his previous form, with some top young talents emerging such as Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, and Drake Batherson.
A move to the Canadian capital could help Stepan prove to the rest of the league that he is still a capable offensive player, earning himself a decent contract once his current deal expires next year.
It would also see the Hastings, Minnesota native reunited with former New York Rangers teammate Artem Anisimov, whom he played with between 2010 and 2012.
In acquiring Stepan, the Senators would pay very little real money, while addressing their low cap situation and adding a genuinely good guy and leader that can be a guiding light for the numerous young prospects expected to make the step up next season.
For the Coyotes, if they can acquire one or two decent picks for Stepan, then the deal should be done as early as possible, as new general manager Bill Armstrong will undoubtedly hope to have a few more prospects added to the pool to work with over the next few seasons.
Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen himself even mentioned Stepan as being the type of contract that the Senators could find attractive, potentially making it seem as if there could be some talks between the top organizations.
It would be a shame to see Stepan leave because he is a very popular figure in the desert, but the situation the Coyotes find themselves in means they need to make some tough decisions this off-season and truly work to reshape the roster.
Stepan would be a great addition to the Senators and he would help the Arizona Coyotes to rework their roster in a significant way, potentially allowing them to add around $12 million worth of talent this off-season to try and find a way to get back into the playoffs and become a regular post-season presence once again.