Arizona Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong has been operating the phones for the second straight day.
He started with a cap move, acquiring injured forward Jakub Voráček and a 2023 sixth-round pick for goaltender Jon Gillies, but that wasn’t all. The Coyotes next sent Nick Bjugstad and Cam Dineen to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2023 third-round pick and defenseman Michael Kesselring, with the Coyotes retaining 50% of Bjugstad’s contract.
News: We have acquired a 2023 third-round draft choice and defenseman Michael Kesselring from the Edmonton Oilers.https://t.co/eQujmdweS7— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 2, 2023
Bjugstad was a great pickup by General Manager Bill Armstrong this past off-season. After two disappointing seasons in Minnesota, the veteran forward signed a $900,000 one-year deal with the Coyotes, the same as his last season in Minnesota.
After a slow start, it looked like Bjugstad would be just another replacement player. But during the Coyotes’ annual Dads Trip, he really came alive. He ultimately finished his time in the desert with 13 goals and 10 assists in 59 games, the same number of goals he had in two seasons with Minnesota.
Along with the pick, the Coyotes acquired much needed defensive prospect. With Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere out, the Coyotes will need to restock their blue line, and they have an intriguing addition in Kesselring.
Kesselring was drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers and has had an interesting path to professional hockey. He split the 2018-19 season between the Des Moines Buccaneers and Fargo Force in the USHL and played 54 games with Northeastern University in the NCAA.
Kesselring made his professional debut with the Bakersfield Condors during the 2020-21 season, and it took a bit of time for him to adjust to the new pace. But this year, the 6’4” defenseman’s offense exploded, and his 13 goals in 49 games is tied for second in goals scored by AHL defensemen.
General Manager Bill Armstrong got a strong prospect in Kesselring, one The Athletics’ Allan Mitchell noted is one of the Oilers’ top prospects going into this year’s trade deadline. Mitchell wrote:
Kesselring is an unusual player, his skating style looks awkward but his actual speed is good. He was a raw talent when arriving in pro but has improved greatly over his Bakersfield seasons. . . He is a feisty player who agitates opponents and draws penalties.
While some people, myself included, were disappointed by the return for Jakob Chychrun, Kesselring gives the Coyotes a solid prospect and a player to watch for the rest of the Roadrunners’ season.