That’s a wrap on the preseason! The Arizona Coyotes finished their exhibition slate an impressive 5-1, and though the wins obviously don’t impact anything from a regular season perspective, it was certainly encouraging to see the team piece together quality shifts, considering the new-look roster, coaches, and systems.
Let’s dive in!
Phil Kessel Trade Rumors Heating Up
It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in The Valley: Kessel wants to play for a contender. TSN insider Darren Dreger mentioned earlier this week that the 34-year-old hopes to finish out the final year of his contract with a team that has a realistic shot at a championship. His current deal, an eight-year, $64 million contract, was signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013.
Adding to that, the winger is reportedly not in the Coyotes’ future plans.
“He wants a fresh start, he wants to earn a new contract somewhere in the National Hockey League,” Dreger said on his Insider Trading Podcast earlier this week. “He’s got some no-trade protection, he wants to go to a competitive, if not a contending team, if you will.”
There’s no sign that any sort of trade is imminent, and teams probably would like to see that Kessel’s recent foot injury is nothing that will derail the former fifth-overall draft pick’s season. It should be noted that he’s reached legendary ironman status, appearing in 900 straight games, which places him fifth all-time in the NHL for consecutive games played.
Will The Coyotes Play at ASU’s New Arena Next Year?
Though the team’s interest and recent arena proposal in Tempe has been well-documented over the last month, there’s been absolutely no update on where the Coyotes can potentially call home beginning next season. The city of Glendale indicated the team’s lease would not be renewed following this season, and though there’s been plenty of speculation of temporary homes, including Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Arizona State’s new arena, or even a return-trip to Gila River Arena, nothing finite has been determined.
Interestingly enough, while the team continues to pursue the Tempe arena deal, the temporary home that may be the front-runner is Arizona State’s new 5,000 seat arena. Though it’s pure speculation, Arizona President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez recently told the Phoenix Business Journal that the Sun Devils’ new arena will be “complementary” to the team’s plans. (from ‘Arizona Coyotes forge ahead on new arena in Tempe; team confident interim solution will emerge’, Phoenix Business Journal, 10/4/2021)
It would be somewhat of a full-circle moment for the Coyotes if that does indeed turn into their temporary home, considering they were in talks with the school back in 2016 for a joint-effort arena. Though the deal ultimately fell through, the two organizations have frequently partnered together since.
Arizona State is playing its last season at Oceanside Arena, and though the arena is slated to be completed in December 2022, it seems the plan is the team will be able to use it heading into the fall of 2022. (from ‘ASU multi-purpose arena reaches topping out stage with final beam placement’, azcentral.com 9/29/2021).
Coyotes Sign Galchenyuk to One-Year Deal
Arizona is welcoming back a familiar face after agreeing to a one-year, $750,000 deal with the 27-year-old Galchenyuk, who was drafted third overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
The center enjoyed one of his most successful NHL seasons from a points perspective with the Coyotes in 2018-19, when he posted 19 goals and 22 assists. He was previously on a professional tryout in training camp, and has a lot of upside on a team that needs veteran leadership during a from-the-ground-up rebuild.
It’s been a little while since Galchenyuk has been productive, after putting up just 13 points in 34 games with both the Ottawa Senators and Maple Leafs last season. That was a slight decline from 2019-20, when he notched a combined 24 points in 59 games spent between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild.
Galchenyuk finished the preseason with one assist in three games.
Up Next For the Coyotes
Arizona has wrapped up its preseason, and will kick off the regular season next Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They then travel to Buffalo for a Saturday (Oct. 16) matchup against the Sabres before their home opener on Monday, Oct. 18 against the St. Louis Blues.
In Case You Missed It
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.