The rebuild is fully underway, and the Arizona Coyotes have already acquired some genuinely top talent that should help them for years to come. Matias Maccelli, Dylan Guenther, and even J.J. Moser are now a part of the NHL roster, and they still have the likes of Logan Cooley to come.
The 2023 Draft boasts plenty of talent that could go a long way to making the Coyotes a force in the future, and it may be worth the team considering acquiring more draft capital this year to help maintain the trajectory they hope to be on.
To do so will require offloading a number of roster players that could help other teams in return for futures that contenders may not be so concerned with, especially if their window to win is now.
Here are a few trade candidates that Arizona Coyotes have that could very well be moved by the time the deadline arrives.
This is, of course, the most obvious candidate on the entire list. Chychrun is well known for wanting to play for a contender, and it has long been known that the Coyotes are willing to part ways with their top defenseman in return for a serious haul that will help the rebuild continue positively.
His trade value was lower entering the season due to his lengthy injury, but since he has returned, it has felt like the Chychrun of old, and the hopes for landing multiple assets will surely have grown for the team.
Chychrun is currently fourth in the team in total points with 23 (five goals, 18 assists) through 30 games - a full 16 short of the team’s total games played due to his injury. His offensive touch is back, he has already outscored his 21 points in 47 games from last season, and he is currently on pace for a 51-point season in 66 games if he were to play the rest of the stretch.
He’s playing big minutes, averaging over 23 a night, and is a legitimate top-four pairing defenseman in the NHL. He will have several suitors by the deadline, and he is the player most likely to get the Coyotes the best return.
The Coyotes entered the 2021-22 season needing bodies between the pipes. The aim was to land a top-three pick and Karel Vejmelka, who had played his entire career in his home nation of Czechia, was the ideal candidate to bring over to the NHL to fill that role.
The team was hammered throughout the year, but the Coyotes rewarded Vejmelka with a contract extension to keep his NHL dreams going. While the team continues to sit close to the bottom of the standings, Vejmelka has been one of the primary reasons why they do not currently occupy the basement outright.
His stats have improved slightly from last season to this, with his goals-against average improving from 3.67 to 3.36 and his save percentage growing from .898 to .902. He has also been slightly better at saving goals above average; last season saw him sit at -14.8, but this season he is at -3.9.
On a contender, Vejmelka could be a truly reliable backup and would be able to genuinely demonstrate what he is capable of with a complete team around him. With goalies always important for playoff-bound teams, expect some interest in him by the deadline.
For some contending teams, depth scoring is an issue, and Nick Bjugstad could be a relatively cheap option for them to consider. He currently sits third on the Coyotes in goals with 11 (20 points total), while he has predominantly been playing a middle-six, defensive forward role.
He has started in the offensive zone just 37.4% of the time this season, yet he has a career-high 13.9% shooting percentage on 79 shots. He’s on pace for 20 goals this year, plays center, takes face-offs, and throws hits (93 so far this season).
He could be the ideal bottom-six addition for a contender needing someone to do a range of things, especially defensively, while also contributing on offense. He might not net the Coyotes a big haul, but an early-to-mid-round draft pick could be enough for general manager Bill Armstrong to work with.
Gostisbehere has been excellent since the Philadelphia Flyers effectively gave him to the Coyotes for nothing. He has played top-four minutes, had a 51-point (14 goals, 37 assists) season last year, and is currently second on the team in points with 28 through 46 games.
He is a versatile offensive defenseman, currently on pace to hit 50 points again this year, and he will surely be an attractive proposition for a number of playoff-bound teams. He will likely cost teams quite a lot to acquire, as he has so clearly enjoyed his time playing in the desert, but if the appropriate offer is on the table, the Coyotes could relinquish him and give him a chance at chasing a cup.
There would always be a lingering hope that he could want to return in the summer once his playoff run is finished, especially considering the potential the team is beginning to show under head coach André Tourigny and with most of their top young prospects still to come.
No matter what, though, the Arizona Coyotes look set to have a busy trade deadline ahead of them, and perhaps even more players could be available if the price is right.