Coyotes, Avs Swap Brandon Gormley and Stefan Elliott

In a late night move, the Arizona Coyotes have acquired defenseman Stefan Elliott in exchange for defenseman Brandon Gormley, who will be heading to the Colorado Avalanche.

On the surface it looks like a “change of scenery” move.

Part of the deal may be that Stefan Elliott has seen his stock dwindle in Colorado, moving from a guy playing 39 games in 2011-12, to 18 the year after that, then one and then just five last year. All the while, he’s improved at the AHL level, posting 19 goals and 21 assists in 64 games last season.

He was a RFA without a deal in Colorado and AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan reports that ‘Yotes GM Don Maloney has confirmed that the team already has a deal in place for a one-year, two-way contract with Elliott, which still needs to be signed.

While it isn’t certain, the pieces are there to indicate that Elliott maybe wanted — or needed — a change of scenery, particularly with him possessing a similar skill set to Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, who has overtaken him on the team’s depth chart in a big way. It’s tough to house too many free-wheeling offensive-minded defensemen in this mold on a single team.

On the other side, Gormley was a top prospect coming out of major junior, praised for being a very smart player and he hasn’t been able to deliver on that potential at the pro level. He was a 2010 1st round pick (13th overall) and plays a two-way game a little better than Elliott, though he doesn’t have the same offensive upside that Elliott may possess.

Gormley played 27 games for Arizona last season, scoring two goals and two assists. He also grabbed 23 games with the Portland Pirates of the AHL and posted three goals and seven assists.

ESPN’s Corey Pronman offered an assessment of Gormley’s transition from a top prospect to a player who hasn’t had much of an impact at the NHL level in his first three pro seasons:

[Gormley, a] former not just good, but elite prospect, has seen his stock plummet since turning pro… Gormley’s strength as a U20 was his hockey sense, and his ability to control a game at both ends. As a pro, he’s struggled with the physicality as well as the speed of the game, often getting exposed with outside speed, but also decision making unlike his Junior incarnation.

He’s an example of many that have happened and many more to come, of the extreme variance in prospect development, and why you need to constantly re-evaluate players year to year… Maybe he can turn things around and elevate himself, crazier things have happened.

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