Arizona Coyotes: Free Agents To Pursue For Next Season

Arizona Coyotes Salary Cap/Free Agents To Pursue

With $34.7 million in cap space, which by the way is the LARGEST in the entire NHL, every knowledgeable NHL fan knows not every team will go to the max on the salary cap. Team like: Vancouver ($3.206M), Philadelphia ($4.546M), Tampa Bay ($4.785M) L.A. Kings ($4.886M), Chicago ($5.541M) will be facing some tough decisions regarding contracts for next season.

That is why these cap heavy teams may want to make some trades, or not sign some free agents to get them under the cap. The Arizona Coyotes could take advantage of this situation. They still need to sign Mikkel Boedker who was paid $2.55M for two years, and will be seeking a raise to maybe double that amount. John Moore, obtained in the N.Y. Rangers trade for Keith Yandle will also be due a raise in order to sign him.

Needs Of Team

The Arizona Coyotes needs are multi-faceted. Their offense was 29th in the league, with a paltry 2.07 goals a game. Their defense was not much better, finishing 28th, allowing 3.32 goals a game.

On offense:

They need a veteran center (gee… then why did they trade Vermette), and that is even if Max Domi does make the starting roster… which I feel he will.

They really need to figure out what to do with Mark Arcobello (who performed well), Lauri Korpikorski (who did not perform well), Dave Moss (I wouldn’t keep him), Martin Erat (let him go, PLEASE), Tye Mc Ginn (adequate, but if someone else comes along he may be expendable), Craig Cunningham (see McGinn explanation), B.J Crombeen (don’t need him, don’t want him).

So, if they let Moss, Erat, Cunningham, Crombeen go, they will have at least four openings on the forward lines.

Free agents available:

  • Brad Richards from Chicago (love to see him in a Coyotes uniform) He is showing his worth in the Western Conference Finals by scoring two goals and six assists in fourteen games. He’s big, he’s tough, and the Coyotes NEED him. Sure, he’s also 35, but the guy knows how to win, and how to step it up in the playoffs. Derek Roy from Edmonton (32 points in 72 games, not bad…)
  • Nashville’s Mike Fisher ($4.2M for a 35 yr. old injury prone player? Ahh.. NO.. but he is married to country music star Carrie Underwood, lots of country music fans here in Arizona, but she may want to stay in Music City)
  • Shawn Matthias from Vancouver (only 27, had 21 goals in 96 games, yeah he could work).

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My personal choice would be Matt Beleskey from San Jose. He’s young (27), and had 22 goals last season. He was paid an economic $1.35M, and could fit nicely in the Coyotes lineup.

On defense:

  • Francois Beauchemin (6′ 1″/207 lbs) from Anaheim has 24 points in 64 games, but is aging at 35 (on July 1st) and a bit pricey at $3.5M. Still, good option to consider.

Adam McQuaid from Boston certainly has the size a 6′ 5″/209 lbs, and had seven points in 63 games, so you know he is a stay at home blue-liner. When you have an Oliver Ekman-Larsson leading your team in scoring, you don’t need another D-man to compete with him…besides OEL keeps improving year to year. How do you spell SUPERSTAR ?

In the goal:

  • Philadelphia’s Ray Emery is out there. At 32 (33 in Sept) he may have played his best hockey in the past. He appeared in 31 games, with a 10 W, 11 L, 7 OT with a .894 SV%, and a 3.06 GAA. Close to Mike Smith’s .904 SV%, and 3.16 GAA. I don’t two aging goalies is the way to go, so I vote for using Louis Domingue or Mike Visentin from the AHL instead. That way they can be groomed to take Smith’s place, which may be sooner or later depending on his performance.
  • Viktor Fasth from Edmonton would be another choice. He has played 63 games, with 26 W, 26 L, 7 OT. He has had 4 shutouts, and a SV% of .904, and a GAA of 2.79. And that while playing most of the games with Edmonton, not known for their defensive prowess.

Final Choices

I’d like to see the Arizona Coyotes sign forwards Brad Richards, Shawn Matthias, Matt Beleskey, and Adam McQuaid on defense. If they decide to not go with Domingue or Visentin as Smith’s backup, I’d settle for Viktor Fasth.

With these additions/subractions the Arizona Coyotes hopefully will become a more competitive team. Along with the salary cap space they have, other teams such as the Penguins have made it known that they want to make a deal to move into the first round of the Draft next month. The Coyotes are guaranteed at least a late round (around 27 or so) pick they got from Chicago for the Vermette trade. Let’s see who the Penguins would give up to move up… food for thought.