There was much anticipation around the Arizona Coyotes’ potential moves ahead of deadline day, with a particular focus around the team’s defensive corps - which currently has four impending UFAs.
Veteran players such as Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski were largely expected to be dealt at this deadline, allowing the Coyotes the opportunity to stockpile draft capital that could be used to refill the team’s largely bare prospect pool.
With both players on expiring contracts, and the Coyotes still on the fringes of the final playoff spot in the West Division, it may surprise many to see that neither has been dealt elsewhere and, in fact, general manager Bill Armstrong decided to not make moves of any kind.
Via Craig Morgan, Armstrong confirmed that no business would be done today, surprising many people, even though the growing consensus was that it would be a relatively quiet day for the Coyotes.
Just minutes earlier, Morgan had confirmed that Goligoski had received some interest from teams around the league, but the Coyotes decided the value was not enough for the impending UFA.
The decision to not offload expiring deals, and aging players, is a surprise when Armstrong had the chance to truly work towards building a team in his own image - with the Coyotes still on the periphery of making the playoffs.
Injuries have hampered the team’s progress this season, and with Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta still side-lined, it’s difficult to predict where the Coyotes will ultimately finish this season - making Armstrong’s decision to do nothing even more curious.
Even if the Coyotes added another depth piece to replace the recent loss of Drake Caggiula, that would have made sense - with the potential for a final push for the post-season still there.
Armstrong may have decided that he is willing to see how far this current group can go this season, viewing any additions or subtractions in-season as devaluing what the team has more than letting players simply walk during the off-season.
It will take some doing to make the playoffs, with the Blues now occupying the final slot after their recent uptick in performances, but if Kuemper and Raanta can return soon and play meaningful games, it could swing things back in the Coyotes’ favor.
There will be a lot of questions about today’s lack of movement, and only time will tell whether or not it truly was the right decision in the long run.