As we approach a month left of the 2020-21 season and nine days before the NHL Trade Deadline we take a look at the Arizona Coyotes who currently sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division with a record of 17-15-5 for 39 points. Given their record now and their remaining schedule ahead, should the Coyotes be buyers or sellers at this year’s deadline? Who could they look to move? Who could they add?
It’s no stranger to anyone in Arizona that when it comes to goaltending, the Coyotes can’t ever seem to catch a break. Originally acquired during the 2016-17 offseason from the New York Rangers, Raanta quickly gave the Coyotes hope that the days of inconsistent goaltending from the tandem of Mike Smith and Louis Domingue were over and the team had finally found themselves a legit backup goaltender waiting to be a starter.
What no expected though was the fact that what originally looked to be a steal of a trade for the Coyotes would end up turning into a nightmare and would ultimately lead the team to make a trade for Darcy Kuemper to take over the starting role.
After being acquired by Arizona, Raanta looked to finally have his shot at being a starting goalie. An injury before the start of the 2017-18 season would keep the Finish netminder out of action and send the Coyotes on a 13-game losing streak with the crease being split between Domingue and Adin Hill. Raanta would eventually return though and play 47 games going 21-17-6 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
This would ultimately not be enough to help Arizona make the playoffs. Not only that but Raanta would never fully be able to overcome the injury bug and has yet to play a full NHL season with the Coyotes to this day, which led t0 Kuemper being acquired and taking the starting role.
As of last night though there is belief Raanta may return from injury during the team’s current road trip. While Raanta has at times proven he can be a good goalie, he ultimately can’t seem to stay off the injured reserve list and with Kuemper looking to be done for possibly the rest of the season, it would be wise for the Coyotes to try and move Raanta at the deadline for a draft pick or possibly a minor-league goalie.
While it will be hard for general manager Bill Armstrong to find someone to take Raanta off his hands especially with his contract expiring at the end of the season, he would be wise to ask around. Hill has slowly grown his game and has turned in some very good numbers in his short NHL career that makes him a viable and good option to backup Kuemper once he returns and going forward.
The next player on my list I feel like the Coyotes need to move is Goligoski. While the veteran has been a productive top-six defenseman for Arizona in the past, registering over thirty points in three of his first four seasons with the Coyotes, he ultimately is falling off and his play is dwindling with age. Registering only seven points so far in 37 games this season, the 35-year-old defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Armstrong would be wise to move Goligoski at the deadline if possible as the Coyotes have a lot of young and skilled defense talent like Kyle Capobianco, Victor Soderstrom, and Jordan Gross waiting in the ranks for a chance at a top-six role in the lineup permanently.
While the return price for Goligoski probably won’t be much, the team needs to recoup and obtain as many draft picks as possible to account for the loss of picks from the Taylor Hall trade and the John Chayka scandal. I could see the left-handed defenseman be moved to a cup contender for some solid defensive depth.
One final player in my option I think the Coyotes could look to move for some pieces and picks would be forward Fischer. The young 23-year-old Chicago native hasn’t been the flashiest player since arriving in the desert and making his appearance during the 2016-17 season, but he has provided some grit and grind which has made him a very attractive fourth-line player.
Fischer has been a very limited forward during his time in the league, averaging around 13 points a season with his best campaign coming in 2017-18 when he racked up a career-high 33 points in 79 games. Despite a brief glimpse of hope, Fischer has ultimately served as either a healthy scratch most nights or a fourth-line role.
Fischer has some upside though. Despite having two points and being scoreless in 33 games this season Fischer has developed into a very gritty fourth-line player for head coach Rick Tocchet. This has been especially important for a Coyotes team this season which lacks size and aggressiveness. If Arizona were looking to move him for some picks and prospects, now would be the time to do it as he is proving that he can grow into a very effective bottom-six role guy.
While losing Fischer would be hard for the fan base as he is a very likable guy, the Coyotes need to look towards acquiring more physicality if they want to avoid being knocked around the ice and I think he, at the same time, could benefit from a new change of scenery.
The two biggest areas the Coyotes need to target at the trade deadline in my opinion if they want to make a push and get into the playoffs would be to acquire a defenseman and an enforcer to protect the younger guys. A defenseman that comes to mind that I think the Coyotes should target is Dunn. The 24-year-old left-handed defenseman who signed a small one-year deal before the season began would be a good addition to the Coyotes, and it’s worth taking a shot to acquire him from the St. Louis Blues.
Dunn is a very effective fifth defenseman who’s still young and learning but who also has a lot of upside. He’s registered 12 points in 33 games and it’s clear the relationship between Dunn and the Blues isn’t on the best of terms. It’s worth Armstrong’s time to inquire about him as he would be a great addition to slot in and replace Goligoski on the lineup.
It could take a lot to acquire Dunn’s services and it’s not worth it to give a bunch of pieces and picks up which the Coyotes are lacking right now if he doesn’t end up signing long term in Arizona. It is worth it though to try and see what it could take to acquire him if he would indeed sign long-term, but it’s a stretch.
Another young defenseman that stands out to me that would be a huge pickup for Arizona would be the Carolina Hurricanes’ Bean. While it’s unlikely this trade will happen, it’s worth taking a shot as his potential is very high and he is easily a top four defenseman already.
Bean is back in the NHL this season with the Canes after having not appeared in an NHL game since the 2018-19 season. In 25 games this season the 22-year-old defenseman has one goal and 10 assists for 11 points. He’s shown tons of improvement and would have an immediate impact on the Coyotes roster.
While it’s likely the Hurricanes don’t wish to move Bean, it’s worth taking a shot. He would be a great young defenseman who would pair up nicely next to Jakob Chychrun on that top defensive pairing. If I were Armstrong, I would be calling Carolina at least to see what it would take to get him.
A final player I think the Coyotes should look to acquire at the deadline would be the Calgary Flames’ Bennett. The 6’1 center isn’t a Milan Lucic or Zack Kassian but he brings a level of physicality the Coyotes are very much lacking.
Bennett has registered eight points and 17 penalty minutes in 35 games so far this season. While he’s never lived up to the expectations Calgary believed he would, he’s turned into quite a physical presence that the Coyotes could use to protect their smaller guys like Clayton Keller and especially Conor Garland.
It’s no secret that Coyotes fans like myself are frustrated with the lack of size and response to their teammates getting bullied on the ice. While guys like Johan Larsson, John Hayden, and Lawson Crouse have taken it upon themselves to bring justice when their guys go down, the Coyotes could benefit from going after another physical player that can still provide some offense. Bennett fits this mold and the Coyotes need to try and go after him at the deadline.
What do you think though? The Coyotes currently have an easier road to the end of the season than say the Blues, but all it takes is for the Coyotes to go cold and St. Louis and Los Angeles to get hot for the Coyotes to fall out of the playoff race. The Coyotes’ current remaining road trip schedule could make or break their season, and these next eight days will decide if the Coyotes are all in or if they’ll be sellers. Let us know what you think below.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC but currently resides in Charleston, SC. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 16 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans has been covering the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays for The Puck Authority during the current hockey season. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.