Former Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone is on waivers, but the team should avoid putting in a claim for him.
Team captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been listed day-to-day after the awkward hit into the boards by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane this past weekend, leaving the Coyotes with some questions on their blueline for the immediate future.
The Calgary Flames today signed Stone to a one-year, $700,000 contract and immediately placed the 30-year-old defenseman on waivers with the purpose of sending him to the team’s taxi squad.
With Ekman-Larsson expected to miss a fair amount of time, Craig Morgan touted the idea of the Coyotes putting in a claim for Stone to provide some short-term cover at very little cost to the organization.
On the face of it, it could make sense for the Coyotes to attempt to bring back a player that was once a regular feature on the blueline in recent memory, but in reality, it likely won’t happen and the team should look internally for short-term help instead.
Stone is not the player he once was, where he put up 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) in 75 games during the Coyotes’ 2015/16 season, and would provide the team with very little in terms of defensive help.
Add to that the fact the Stone will need to spend time in isolation before he would be able to link up with the Coyotes roster, and the reasoning behind putting in a claim for Stone doesn’t make much sense.
The Coyotes have Jordan Gross and Victor Söderström currently on their taxi squad and should choose between the two as the short-term solution to Ekman-Larsson’s absence.
The 25-year-old Gross is the most likely candidate to receive a call-up, with plenty of experience in the AHL as well as his two-game stint with the Coyotes seemingly putting him at the forefront of the team’s thoughts when considering what to do.
Söderström is clearly the future for the Coyotes’ defense, but he has not played any games in North America and still likely needs time to adapt to the NHL level before he can be thrust into a situation that currently faces the team (four-game stretch against the Vegas Golden Knights without their captain).
Stone would be an interesting story, seeing him return and potentially given a chance to play more in the NHL once again, but he doesn’t make the most sense for the Coyotes, especially given the time it would take before he could even join his new team.
By the time Stone can actually play, Ekman-Larsson could have returned to the line-up and the need for additional cover is reduced.
Giving Gross a chance to show what he can offer at the NHL level appears to make the most sense for the Coyotes, who have the luxury of being able to send him back to the taxi squad without the need for him to pass waivers if OEL returns early or if the team decides to give Söderström a chance.