The Arizona Coyotes have set themselves up well for their rebuild, and the next step in progressing said rebuild will be to have a significant impact at this year’s trade deadline - both as a seller and a buyer.
The Coyotes are regularly considered in hypothetical scenarios for many teams around the league, and there are three key targets the team should try to achieve by the time March 21st rolls around.
Acquire 2023 Picks
The 2022 Draft is stacked with plenty of talent, and the Coyotes are set to benefit from their previous dealings with EIGHT selections in the first two rounds - giving themselves a genuine pool of prospects that could develop into serious NHL players over the next few years.
Stocking up on picks should be a priority for general manager Bill Armstrong, but with the team already looking set with this year’s draft class, it would be a logical move to acquire more picks in the 2023 Draft to continue the rebuild progress beyond this year.
While the Coyotes are stacked in the first two rounds this year, next year sees them hold just one pick in each - presenting the perfect opportunity for Armstrong to land other assets and add to a prospect pool that will have been replenished substantially in 2022.
Offload Expiring Veterans
While the Coyotes should be looking to acquire assets that help them in the long-term, they should also be looking to do this by cashing in on veterans on expiring contracts this year - with one name seemingly the most obvious choice to send to a contender in exchange for draft capital.
Phil Kessel could be a valuable addition to many playoff-bound teams, where he can use his many years of goal-scoring proficiency to get some teams over the edge while seeing Armstrong earn a pick or two (depending on value) in return.
Meanwhile, lower-end players such as Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Nash could be cheap sells to contenders looking to bolster depth at a low cost.
The Coyotes are focused on the future, so players set to become UFAs in the summer should be fair game in the trade market, while the team could even retain on some contracts to improve their value and generate greater interest from teams.
Take On Contracts For Next Season
While offloading players set to become free agents in the summer, the Coyotes could still help out teams across the league by taking on some unpleasant contracts that run through to the end of the 2022/23 season.
Before making any deals, the Coyotes has just over $6.7 million in cap space to work with and could take a couple of contracts off the hands of some cap-needy teams - something they did expertly during the summer.
The team has very few players under contract next season, so while they would be aiding teams this year to earn additional assets, they would also be addressing a short-term issue of their own by having players under contract for another year.
Building a team from scratch through free agency can take time and can be a challenge for a rebuilding team, so having a few more players set to stick around while also gaining more draft capital is a scenario Armstrong should be exploring thoroughly.