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Free Agency Recap: Which players are moving on from the Coyotes?

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An update on the players from the Arizona Coyotes 2020-2021 opening night roster. 

Arizona Coyotes v San Jose Sharks Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

It is safe to say that the Arizona Coyotes will look like a completely different team come next season.

There have been several players added to the roster through trades or free agency. These have all been covered on the site, but fans may wonder which players from last season are not returning. Although the Coyotes are headed into a rough few years, fans can still enjoy cheering for past Coyotes players to succeed.

Currently, at least 12 players from the Arizona Coyotes 2020-2021 23-man opening night roster will not be back next season. Some left in free agency, others were traded, and a few have yet to decide on their future.

After day one of free agency, here is a look at the statuses of the Coyotes players from last season.

Traded Players

Despite how many trades the Coyotes have made, they have not traded away many roster players.

Unfortunately for Tucson Roadrunners fans, Adin Hill is now expected to play in tandem with James Reimer for the San Jose Sharks. It would be nice to see him get a shot in the NHL after mainly playing relief for Kuemper or Raanta this season.

Darcy Kuemper was also traded for a hefty return and will have a decent chance to compete for the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. If he leads them to the Stanley Cup, the Coyotes could end up with a 3rd round pick too. However, if they are eliminated early, Colorado’s 1st round pick that the Coyotes acquired will be higher.

After signing a fair deal (5 x $4.95M) with the Vancouver Canucks, Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson will play for the Canucks next year. In a weak Pacific Division, they have a chance to make the playoffs with their young core.

The Coyotes did not trade Tyler Pitlick, but he was traded to the Calgary Flames just a day after being selected in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

Free Agent Updates

On the Coyotes’ opening night roster from last season, seven players were heading into the final year of their contract. None of the seven are expected to be wearing a Coyotes uniform next season.

Grand Rapids native, Alex Goligoski, garnered a lot of interest around the league. He returned home to Minne on a one-year contract for $5 million with the Minnesota Wild. His contract may be more than Goligoski is worth at his age, but there is little risk in a one-year deal.

Although many would have gladly welcomed Jordan Oesterle back, he also decided to return home. He signed with the Detroit Red Wings (2 x $1.35M) less than two weeks after getting married.

Similarly, Michael Bunting, born in Scarborough, Ontario, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for two years at $950,000. His 26.3% shooting percentage last season was impressive but unsustainable. Realistically, this contract pays him like the serviceable bottom-six forward he is.

At the start of last season, the Coyotes had some of the best goaltending depth in the league. Now, all three of the Desert Dogs’ goaltenders will play elsewhere. Antti Raanta signed for two years with the Carolina Hurricanes on a $2 million AAV contract. He will play backup for the Hurricanes’ newly signed starter, Frederik Andersen.

Drake Caggiula was a pending free agent to start last season, but he was claimed off waivers back in April. The Buffalo Sabres signed Caggiula, John Hayden, and former Coyote Vinnie Hinostroza to one-year deals.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they had signed Micahel Chaput to a one-year, two-way contract. Chaput split the past two and half seasons between the Tucson Roadrunners and Arizona Coyotes and played 13 games this past year.

Jason Demers took to Twitter to say his goodbyes and thank the Coyotes for his time in Arizona. He has yet to sign a contract, but he will likely be signed as many teams look for defensemen.

Also, UFA Derick Brassard has not signed anywhere so far. However, there is still usually a market for inexpensive, veteran forwards, so we will likely see him sign somewhere.

Current Roster Players

Despite all the changes, there are still quality players from last season on the Coyotes roster.

Jakob Chychrun, Nick Schmaltz, Clayton Keller, Johan Larsson, Christian Fischer, Lawson Crouse, and Kyle Capobianco are all likely to return next season. In addition, prospects Barrett Hayton and Victor Söderström are also coming back and may see more time in the NHL. However, GM Bill Armstrong may not want to rush either player, especially Söderström, into the roster of a rebuilding team.

Christian Dvorak and Phil Kessel have both been in trade rumors. However, it seems like talks may have quieted down a bit on both fronts.

Tribute

There is one player who does not fall under any of the previous categories. After 14 seasons, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has officially retired from the NHL. He will go down as a prime example of a defensive defenseman. He leaves the league, and possibly the game of hockey, with three Stanley Cups and a silver Olympic medal for Sweden. Although he is just 34, his focus is now on his family.