Coyotes Lose Pitlick, Acquire Korenar, Gostisbere, Ladd, Picks

Although general manager Ron Francis and the Seattle Kraken were the stars of the show over the course of the expansion draft period, which began with the submission of protected lists on Saturday morning and concluded with the draft itself on Wednesday evening, the Arizona Coyotes and their GM Bill Armstrong were busy as well during the event.

2021 NHL Expansion Draft Seattle Kraken
Seattle Kraken draft picks (L-R) Jordan Eberle, Chris Driedger, Chris Tanev, Jamie Oleksiak, Haydn Fleury and Mark Giordano following the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, July 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

The ‘Yotes made three trades in the past week, losing a key player while acquiring multiple draft picks, a goaltending prospect, an offensive defenseman, and a two-time Stanley Cup champion forward. Let’s dive right into it:

Hill Shipped to San Jose

In their first transaction, the Coyotes traded a player that most had expected to end up with the Kraken:

Arizona Coyotes receive:

  • G Josef Korenar
  • 2022 second-round pick

San Jose Sharks receive:

  • G Adin Hill
  • 2022 seventh-round pick

In dealing Hill, the ‘Yotes moved arguably their most attractive expansion draft target. The prevailing opinion among hockey publications prior to the trade was that Hill would be Seattle’s selection, so, rather than losing him for free, the club smartly flipped the 25-year-old goalie for a badly-needed draft pick and a young prospect in Korenar.

Josef Korenar AHL All-Stars
Josef Korenar, seen here during the 2019 AHL All-Star Game. (Danny Baxter/AHL)

The 23-year-old from the Czech Republic didn’t look out of place in 2020-21 as a rookie with the Sharks, posting an .899 save percentage and a 3.17 goals-against average on a club that was two goals shy of being the league’s worst defensive team. Korenar’s best game of the season came on May 5, when he stopped 30 of 32 shots against the Colorado Avalanche, in what was the Avs’ only loss from April 30 through June 2. He’ll likely be Arizona’s No. 3 goaltender to start the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get between 10 and 20 starts in the NHL in 2021-22. The organization, as of this writing, has no other NHL-caliber goalies under contract, and starter Darcy Kuemper has only one year left on his deal. He could be traded at the deadline if the Coyotes can’t get him re-signed, so the opportunity is there for Korenar to have a big role in Arizona this season.

Losing Hill is a tough pill to swallow, especially as he was arguably the club’s best goaltender in 2020-21, but, considering Arizona was days away from potentially losing him for free to Seattle, getting a second-rounder plus another netminder back for him is a win in my book.

Ladd, Picks Acquired for Free

In their other trade on July 17, the Coyotes made a deal in which they didn’t give anything up:

Arizona Coyotes receive:

  • LW Andrew Ladd
  • 2021 second-round pick (No. 60 overall)
  • Conditional 2022 second-round pick
  • Conditional 2023 third-round pick

New York Islanders receive:

  • Future considerations (a nice way of saying ‘nothing’)

This trade is an interesting one. Ladd, a two-time Stanley Cup champion who has two years left on a deal with an average annual value of $5.5 million, didn’t play in the NHL last year, and has only been on the ice for 30 NHL games in the past three combined seasons. This is a salary dump by the Islanders more than anything, as is evidenced by the fact that the Coyotes gave nothing up in this trade, but both Armstrong and Ladd have indicated that this trade isn’t for a contract – it’s for a player. Ladd feels like he can still contribute, while Armstrong believes the veteran can help build the culture in Arizona under new head coach Andre Tourigny.

Islanders left wing Andrew Ladd
Andrew Ladd is nearing the end of his career, but he believes he can still play and help the Coyotes on the ice. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

No matter if Ladd contributes or not, this one is already a victory for Arizona – picking up two draft picks, and possibly a third, is a massive coup for a Coyotes organization that badly needs to restock the prospect pipeline in this weekend’s entry draft. When it comes to the conditional picks, one is guaranteed to be transferred to Arizona, while the other is up in the air. The Coyotes will receive the better of New York’s second-rounders in 2022 – the Islanders own two picks in this round at the moment, so this conditional pick will be settled when next year’s draft order is announced. For the 2023 third-round pick, it comes down to Ladd’s availability. If he plays a game for the ‘Yotes in 2022-23, this pick will be transferred.

Ideally, Ladd enjoys two healthy seasons in Arizona as he winds down his career and the Coyotes receive all three draft picks from this trade. In the worst-case scenario, the 35-year-old never plays a game, ends up on long-term injured reserve, as Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Pronger, and Dave Bolland did before him, and the Coyotes get two draft picks out of it.

Not a bad deal in either scenario.

Gostisbehere, 2022 Picks Acquired for Nothing

In a similar trade to the one we saw for Ladd, the Coyotes acquired another prominent player for free from an Eastern Conference team on July 22:

Arizona Coyotes receive:

  • D Shayne Gostisbehere
  • 2022 second-round pick
  • 2022 seventh-round pick

Philadelphia Flyers receive:

  • Future considerations (a nice way of saying ‘nothing’)

In comparison with Ladd, Gostisbehere is a player who definitely will be playing in 2021-22. He’s lost a bit of luster since lighting up the league as a young player, but he’s still a productive offensive defenseman who should help the Coyotes this year.

As a rookie in 2015-16, Gostisbehere collected 46 points in 64 games from the blue line in Philadelphia, which was good enough to earn him a second-place finish in Calder Trophy voting that year, behind winner Artemi Panarin. He experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in 2016-17, with just 39 points over 76 games, but he bounced back in a big way in 2017-18, collecting 65 points in 78 games en route to a 10th-place finish in voting for the Norris Trophy.

The past three years haven’t been as successful, though, and are the reason why the Coyotes were able to get this player for free. Gostisbehere’s scoring output was cut nearly in half in 2018-19, as he posted just 37 points in the same 78 games he played the year before. The decline continued in 2019-20, with “Ghost Bear” scoring only 5 goals with 7 assists for 12 points in 41 games. The offensive-minded blueliner rebounded slightly in 2020-21 with 20 points in 41 games, but he was a frequent healthy scratch and was often mentioned in trade rumors due to his production not correlating with his $4.5 million salary.

Shayne Gostisbehere Philadelphia Flyers
A change of scenery could be good for defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers entered this offseason looking to move this player, and they found a trade partner in the Coyotes, who took on Gostisbehere’s full salary in exchange for a second-rounder and a seventh-round choice in 2022. The draft picks give Arizona 10 selections for 2022 – they own four picks in the second round, in addition to a single pick in the six other rounds.

For Gostisbehere, though, a change of scenery could be just what he needs to regain his form – the Philadelphia media is notoriously brutal towards players they deem to be underperforming or overpaid, and playing in a lower-pressure environment could help the 28-year-old once again become a contributor on the blue line.

Protected List Recap

For the expansion draft, there was seemingly endless speculation on who would be protected by their respective NHL clubs, and what side deals (if any) would be made. After months or even years of messing around with the CapFriendly Seattle Expansion Draft Simulator, we finally got the real-life protected lists on Saturday evening.

After going the eight skaters/one goaltender route for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft in 2017, the Coyotes, as expected, went with the seven forwards/three defenseman/one goaltender protection strategy for this edition of league expansion:


  • Phil Kessel
  • Conor Garland
  • Clayton Keller
  • Nick Schmaltz
  • Christian Dvorak
  • Johan Larsson
  • Lawson Crouse


  • Jakob Chychrun
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson
  • Kyle Capobianco


  • Darcy Kuemper

Overall, there weren’t really any surprises here. I had 8 of these 10 players on my protected list for the THW’s Ultimate Mock Expansion Draft, with the lone exceptions being Capobianco and Larsson. I opted to protect Pitlick over Larsson on my list, although it was a toss-up for the final spot between those two and Christian Fischer.

In the other case, I made a trade for Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and protected him over Capobianco. The Coyotes didn’t make any such pre-expansion draft moves in reality, which allowed the club to hold onto Capobianco instead of losing him, as I did in the THW Ultimate Mock Expansion Draft.

Pitlick Lost to Seattle

As was the case in 2017 when the Golden Knights filled out their roster, the Coyotes’ list of unprotected skaters was short on key players, but they still lost an NHLer this time around:

The Kraken will be Pitlick’s fifth NHL organization, and, in the 29-year-old, Seattle will get a player who kills penalties and can contribute a little bit of offense here and there. Pitlick had just 11 points in 38 games in 2020-21, but was still a valuable member of the Coyotes, as he led all of the team’s forwards when it came to shorthanded time on ice per game, at 2:06. Pitlick’s role last season was comparable to past depth players like Brad Richardson, Lauri Korpikoski, Dave Moss, Jordan Martinook, and others – his offensive contributions will be replaceable, but his expertise on the penalty kill unit will be missed in Arizona.

Overall, though, the Coyotes got off easy once again during an expansion draft. They lost Teemu Pulkkinen to Vegas last time around, but he never played another NHL game after being selected by the Golden Knights on June 21, 2017. Pitlick is a better player than Pulkkinen, but he should be easily replaced, either by an in-house player or via a free agent on a one or two-year deal.

In comparison to other teams like the Florida Panthers, who lost two top-six forwards (Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith) in 2017 and a starting goaltender (Chris Driedger) in 2021, the Coyotes should consider themselves lucky.

Looking Ahead to the Entry Draft

After the league handed down punishment for the John Chayka-led prospect fitness testing scandal on August 26, 2020, which resulted in the team losing last year’s second-rounder and this year’s first-round choice, the Coyotes were left with just five selections for the 2021 Entry Draft, and only one in the first three rounds.

Bill Armstrong Arizona Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong made multiple moves prior to the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The outlook was bleak at the time, but Arizona managed to pick up another 2021 second-round pick in the trade that sent veteran Derek Stepan to the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 26, 2020. The Ladd trade on Saturday gave the team another second-round choice, which put them back at the standard seven picks in this weekend’s draft:

  • Second round, No. 37 overall (from Columbus via Ottawa)
  • Second round, No. 43 overall
  • Second round, No. 60 overall (from Colorado via NY Islanders)
  • Fourth round, No. 107 overall
  • Fourth round, No. 122 overall (from Pittsburgh)
  • Fifth round, No. 139 overall
  • Sixth round, No. 171 overall

Considering where the Coyotes were at less than a year ago, the fact that they once again have seven selections, including three top-60 picks, is outstanding. The sting of losing the No. 11 overall pick due to Chayka’s indiscretions is still there, but don’t let the lack of a first-rounder fool you – Arizona will have the opportunity to draft several key players this weekend. In past drafts, they’ve selected players such as Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer, Jordan Martinook in Round 2, and have ended up with guys like Adin Hill, Conor Garland, Jan Jenik and Matias Maccelli in later rounds as well.

The Coyotes are in good shape for the 2021 draft, which starts on Friday, but continue to keep an eye on social media for the latest updates – as we saw with the Gostisbehere trade, expect the unexpected.