The NHL Trade Deadline is today at noon Arizona time. And even if you have watched every Arizona Coyotes’ game this season, which I have, you probably still don’t know what the Coyotes will be doing today.
Despite playing in one more game, the Coyotes are currently one point back of the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot. They are still deep in the hunt for a playoff spot.
We were supposed to have some clarity as this road trip wrapped up, but it may have only made things murkier. The Coyotes won three straight, getting the points that they needed to.
But then things fell apart. The Los Angeles Kings were able to score three unanswered goals in the third period to come from behind to win the game, and the less said about the 7-4 loss to the Golden Knights, the better.
Last night’s game was a better effort, at least, and General Manager Bill Armstrong is likely happier with a 1-0 loss compared to a 7-4.
So, what should the Coyotes do today?
Niklas Hjalmarsson (injured)
Antti Raanta (injured)
The Case for Doing Nothing
The Arizona Coyotes are consistently-inconsistent, and could very well bounce back and earn a playoff spot. They also have one of the easier schedules, with four games against the San Jose Sharks and three games against the Los Angeles Kings.
We also may not see the Coyotes being offered much. Antti Raanta was expected to be a prized trade piece, but he is currently injured and likely isn’t going to get much of a return.
The flat salary cap will make moves much harder too, and teams don’t have a lot of space to add rentals. It may not be worth making the team worse in the lead-up to the end of the season for a fourth-round pick.n
Nobody is going to blame General Manager Bill Armstrong for not making many moves tomorrow.
The Case for Selling
The Coyotes are currently hurting for draft picks, with their first-round pick for this year’s draft forfeited as part of the punishment for violating the Combine Testing Policy and their third-round pick going to the New Jersey Devils as part of the Taylor Hall trade.
And even if they can make the playoffs, they aren’t likely to get beyond the Colorado Avalanche.
So, if the Coyotes can get some picks, likely second- or third-round based on the pending unrestricted free-agents they have, they should jump at the chance.
Most of the Coyotes’ free agents are probably not going to be re-signed, and trading them now is usually better than losing them for nothing.
And honestly, it’s not like the fans aren’t already expecting a sell-off. We have seen teams put off the inevitable to avoid fan backlash, which probably isn’t something the Coyotes need to worry about after this season.
The Case for Buying
The only reason the Coyotes should be buying is if another GM calls Bill Armstrong and offers a stupid good deal. It’s possible a team may need to clear salary, or a three-way trade opportunity emerges that gives the Coyotes a steal.
But pending an extremely weird and unlikely scenario though, no, the Arizona Coyotes should not be buyers today.
The Case for Blowing it Up
Are the Coyotes planning to rebuild next season? Like a real, strip the team down, go-for-broke, spend years bottoming out to try to get a first-overall pick type rebuild?
Many fans and pundits think that they need to. While Conor Garland, Clayton Keller, and Jakob Chychrun have all taken big steps forward, they may not be enough to build a franchise off.
And if the Coyotes are planning to go that route, now may be the perfect time to trade Conor Garland. He is a pending restricted free agent with a $775,000 cap hit, making him perfect for a cup contender on a budget for a trade and sign deal.
I don’t think blowing the team up is necessary at this point, but if Armstrong does and he gets an offer that turns that from a five-year process to a four-year one, he should take it.