Meet the Sellers: Arizona Coyotes

Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The Arizona Coyotes probably shouldn’t be in the Phoenix area anymore, but Gary Bettman’s love child has survived playing in the desert in a university stadium. The same cannot be said for their chances of making the playoffs in 2023-24, as they now sit 10 points out of a playoff spot, a spot which they held on January 3.
This is a series called Meet the Sellers. As the Edmonton Oilers are in a “Stanley Cup or Bust” year, we’re going to look at the teams who have no other aspirations this season other than adding some prospects and picks and jockeying for a better position in the 2024 Draft Lottery.
Before heading down to the desert, let’s look at some of Edmonton’s needs. We’ll be ranking them from the most needed to the least needed.
Second-pairing right-shot defenceman: Cody Ceci isn’t a bad defender by any stretch, but he’s better suited to the third pairing, while the Oilers need a second-pairing right-shot defenceman to play alongside Darnell Nurse.
Second-line winger: There have been times during the season when the Oilers go on cold stretches for scoring, including during the 16-game win streak. Leon Draisaitl needs a top six scoring winger to play alongside him, think Jake Gunetzel.
Right-shot defenceman depth: Last season, the Oilers had Jason Demers in the American Hockey League as a backup plan if a right-shot defenceman got injured. Thankfully, the Oilers remained relatively healthy that season and have barely missed any games from their defence this season, but they don’t have a veteran right-shot defenceman in the minors this year.
Competent backup goaltender: Stuart Skinner has played a lot this season, as he’s played in nearly three-quarters of Edmonton’s games so far. To keep him fresh for the playoffs, the Oilers may look to add a “1B” netminder. It is worth mentioning that Calvin Pickard has done well this season, posting a .910 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average in 10 games.
Third-line centre: The least important of Edmonton’s needs is a third-line centre, as Ryan McLeod has played well so far this season, scoring nine goals and 19 points with strong defensive play. The only reason why they’d need a third-line centre is if they plan on playing McLeod with Draisaitl.

Who could the Arizona Coyotes sell:

Despite the rough season, the Coyotes have a young core with one of the best farm systems in the league, even with Logan Cooley graduating. It features Conor Geekie, Dmitry Simashev and others, and with support from the city, they could very well be a playoff team in the near future.
However, that future is not the 2023-24 season, so let’s take a look at who they could trade at the March 8 trade deadline. We won’t be mentioning players who are all but retired but are still under contract. The three players that fit that category are Jakub Voráček, Bryan Little, and Shea Weber.
Jason Zucker is a left-shot left wing who is just a season removed from scoring 27 goals and 48 points, his second-best season in his 13-year career. This season, he has just eight goals and 22 points, on pace for 13 goals and 36 points. The 32-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and has a cap hit of $5.3 million, so the Coyotes will have to retain some of that salary.
Alexander Kerfoot has eight goals and 30 points this season and is on pace for 12 goals and 46 points, the latter would be his second best total. The 29-year-old centre has a cap hit of $3.5 million until the end of the 2024-25 season and also has a 10-team no-trade list. With the Coyotes hoping to be good after this season, they may elect to keep Kerfoot, as he has the fourth-most points on the team.
Nick Bjugstad was acquired by the Oilers at last season’s deadline, as the Oilers sent Michael Kesselring and a third-round pick in 2023 for the Coyotes to retain 50% of Bjugstad’s contract. The Oilers also received defenceman prospect Cam Dineen, but losing Kesselring is a tough one. Anyway, the 31-year-old right-shot centre re-signed with the Coyotes and carries a cap hit of $2.1 million until the end of the 2024-25 season.
Matt Dumba once had a 14-goal, 50-point season and followed that up with 12 goals and 22 points in 32 games in 2018-19, but his season ended early due to a torn pectoral muscle when fighting Matthew Tkachuk. After scoring double-digit goals in the prior four seasons, Dumba has yet to hit that plateau again but has put up a 27-point season in 2021-22. Last season, it seemed as if the Wild were going to trade him, but he stayed with the team and eventually left them to join the Coyotes. This season, the right-shot defenceman has just three goals and six points in 49 games. Dumba has a cap hit of $3.9 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Troy Stecher is currently on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury and could be back before the trade deadline. The right-shot defenceman has been around the league in his eight-year career, playing for teams like Vancouver, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Calgary, and two tenures with the Coyotes. This season, he has a goal and five points, far off his rookie season where he scored three goals and had a career-high 24 points. Adding the 29-year-old makes sense, as he has a cap hit of $1.1 million and could be useful depth for the Oilers on the right side of their defence.
Karel Vejmelka is a 27-year-old netminder who is having a tough season, posting an .896 save percentage and a 3.38 goals-against average in 24 games played. Last season, he played 50 games for the Coyotes and posted a  .900 save percentage and a 3.41 goals-against average, along with three shutouts. Vejmelka has a cap hit of $2.725 million until the end of the 2024-25 season.

Previously in the series…

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