Coyotes’ Deadline Moves Signal Rebuild Still On Track

The 2022-23 NHL deadline has come and gone, and oh boy, was it busy. Between the All-Star break and the deadline, teams completed 65 deals in all, far higher than the usual amount. The Arizona Coyotes were one of those few teams who made quite the moves ahead of the deadline, signaling their rebuild is very much still on track.

Jakob Chychrun Ottawa Senators
Jakob Chychrun, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In all, the Coyotes moved Dysin Mayo, Cam Dineen, Jakob Chychrun, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nick Ritchie, Nick Bjugstad, Vili Saarijarvi, Jon Gillies, and Troy Stecher for a hefty slew of draft picks. In return, Arizona also acquired the contracts of Jakub Voráček, Patrick Kane (25% retained), and Shea Weber, as well as Michael Kesselring, Connor Mackey, and Brett Ritchie. General manager Bill Armstrong remained active until the very last moment, stockpiling the Coyotes’ future with a total of eight draft picks scattered between 2023-2026.

Breaking Down the Coyotes Moves

Perhaps the biggest deal for the Coyotes ahead of the deadline was the move involving Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators in return for a 2023 conditional first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-round pick via Washington, and a 2026 second-round pick. Perhaps Armstrong’s biggest deal of the season, the Chychrun saga finally came to an end almost two years after originally requesting a trade. While the Coyotes failed to acquire a prospect in return in the deal, Armstrong believes he made the best deal possible that will give the organization the possibility of two first-round picks in the top 12-15 in this year’s draft, which is expected to be loaded with talent.

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Armstrong’s day didn’t start there, making two minor moves days before the deadline. The first of which involved Mayo to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2023 fifth-round pick and defenseman Shea Weber’s contract, as well as a 2025 third-round pick in a three-team deal with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers for Patrick Kane (25% retained), that saw defenseman Saarijarvi moved to Chicago.

The Coyotes made four additional deals leading up to last Friday. The first included defenseman Gostisbehere to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2026 third-round pick, and the second involved Bjugstad and Dineen to Edmonton for Kesselring and a 2023 third-round pick. The Coyotes retained 50 percent of Bjugstad’s contract in the deal. The Coyotes also added Brett Ritchie and Mackey for the Calgary Flames in return for Nick Ritchie and Stecher, the first-ever brother-for-brother swap in league history. The final deal involved goaltender Gillies to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Voráček’s contract and a 2023 sixth-round pick.

Who the Coyotes Hung Onto

Despite trading what seemed like a slew of key players, as well as taking on $26.9 million of dead contracts from other teams, the Coyotes hung onto a few pieces for now that many deemed likely trade candidates, including Nick Schmaltz, Karel Vejmelka, and Connor Ingram. PHNX Sports Arizona chapter chair and credentialed writer Craig Morgan reported on Armstrong’s decision to keep Vejmelka and Schmaltz.

While time will only tell what the Coyotes decide to do with their core, Armstrong made it very clear that rebuild is still very much on, and he will look to this core to help usher in the next era of Coyotes hockey. Despite what outsiders have to say, the Coyotes accomplished what they set out to do at the trade deadline, leading many to wonder where the Coyotes’ rebuild currently stands.

Final Thoughts On the Rebuild

At the end of the day, the Coyotes made quite the noise with the deals they completed and stockpiled their future with a few prospects and a plethora of draft capital. The Coyotes’ current rebuild window puts them two to three years out of being potential competitors in the Central Division. Media outlets give the Coyotes an overall C grade for all of their moves. While the Coyotes failed to garner more prospects in their respective deals, they’ve set themselves up to draft well for the next couple of seasons.

Shayne Gostisbehere Carolina Hurricanes
Shayne Gostisbehere, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The organization is in the midst of a lengthy rebuild, the first true rebuild they’ve ever gone through. The team is going to lose a lot of games, and the next few seasons will look a bit rough. Nevertheless, the future of the organization is still very much bright. Prospects Josh Doan, Conor Geekie, Dylan Guenther, Logan Cooley, and whoever the team selects in the first round this season lead the next of hockey in the desert. Add the potential of a new arena and entertainment district in Tempe, which awaits a vote in the next two months, along with an owner willing to spend money to make hockey work in Arizona, and you get a team with a promising future. Hang tight Coyotes fans, times may seem risky, but the inevitable reward is on the horizon.

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