In 34 games this season, Conor Garland has 26 points. The Arizona Coyotes‘ winger is giving fans in the desert something to howl about. The problem is, others are noticing Garland’s play as well. With the trade deadline fast approaching, playoff-bound clubs would love to add a young talent like Garland. But should Arizona part with their rising star? The answer is ‘no’.
Garland has already proven he is not a one-hit-wonder. Last season, he found the net 22 times in 68 contests. This season, he’s taken things to another level, percentage-wise. Garland’s points per game ratio and skating minutes have both gone up. It’s no wonder why teams like the Boston Bruins have been rumored to have big-time interest.
One could see the logic in exploring a trade. The return on Garland could be huge. But this would only make sense on paper. It would only make sense if Garland played for ‘Team X’ or ‘Team Y’. The fact that he is a Coyote is exactly why he must stay. ‘Yotes fans are sick of the rebuilding process. They love Garland and they want him back.
Considering his production, Garland has been a steal thus far. He’s only 25 and he only costs $775,000 against the salary cap. He will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Why trade for potential stars when it looks like the Coyotes already have one in Garland?
Things Are Looking Up
Not only is Garland poised to be a long-term star, he’s paying dividends now. The Coyotes are very much alive in the race for the West Division’s final playoff spot. A Coyotes squad with Conor Garland clearly has a better chance at the postseason than a roster without him. The Arizona fan base has gone through so much turmoil over the years. Any chance at a Cup run is welcomed. Dumping one of your top guys in the middle of a playoff race for unknown commodities would understandably not be received very well.
Now, could a team wow Arizona brass with an offer they can’t refuse? Sure. But that is extremely unlikely. A team interested in making a serious play for Garland is likely already a contender looking to put their club over the top. If they gave back top players to Arizona, the trade would do nothing more than create a talent stalemate. The sweetest deals would likely be chock full of draft choices and future considerations. Again, the ‘Yotes would get the unknown for a young man who is already getting things done.
If the Coyotes grab that final divisional playoff spot, are they likely to make a serious Cup run? Probably not. But remember, this is the NHL. We’ve seen it so many times before from lower-seeded clubs. Get in the playoffs, get your goalie hot, and the sky’s the limit. Never give up on a potential playoff run especially when you are a franchise not known for postseason success.
As long as Garland is in the top six in the Coyotes’ rotation, there’s no reason to expect his production to dip. In fact, his output should increase. Perhaps if Arizona is looking to be active at the deadline and if they are still indeed in the playoff hunt, they should trade for pieces to build around Garland rather than lose him.
Choose Wisely When Making a Deal
Arizona could entertain the idea of trading one of their goaltenders. They could use draft selections and prospects, plus it would help in a small market to dump some salary. Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta have both been battling injuries, so it may be difficult to trade either player because of their respective health issues. Arizona likely wants to keep Kuemper long-term. If Raanta was in full playing shape, he could have possibly brought back something worthwhile.
Other Coyotes that could theoretically be on the move include Niklas Hjalmarsson and Alex Goligoski, although both players could be tricky to send packing due to trade clauses.
In the end, there are two things Arizona general manager Bill Armstrong should remember when thinking of making a deal. One, don’t make a trade for trading’s sake. Sure, this roster isn’t packed with Armstrong’s hand-picked guys, but that doesn’t mean you dump players who will help you now and in the future. And two, if and when the Coyotes do pull the trigger on a transaction, make sure the player you’re shipping off is not named Conor Garland.