DAB Trade Series: Arizona Coyotes

For today’s DAB trade series, we’re going to go down to the land of rattlesnakes, cactuses (or is it cacti?), and blown Mariano Rivera saves (I’m not over the 2001 World Series) in Phoenix, Arizona to look at the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are coming off their strongest season in recent memory but fell just short of the playoffs. With the Western Conference wide open, they were in the fight right up until the end when the Colorado Avalanche took the spot, leaving the desert once again without playoff hockey.

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on March 3, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.

The Coyotes are a bit like the Devils in their current place. Both teams made it much further than expected in the 2012 playoffs, only to fall into lengthy playoff droughts starting the immediate season after. Eventually, both teams entered rebuilds, which are starting to pay off. The coyotes haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012, but are inching closer. Since their rebuild is still a work in progress, it’ll make the more valuable younger assets harder to pluck away that if we were trying to trade from a well-established team.

Why Oliver Ekman-Larsson isn’t Included

There isn’t a team in the NHL that wouldn’t want Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and the Devils would love to have him. He’s like a younger, less injured, version of Erik Karlsson. Unfortunately, there was no way a trade was going to happen.

Ekman-Larsson was the pillar of the Coyotes rebuild and everything they rebuilt was done around him. As their current franchise player, it would take a king’s ransom to get them to even consider Larsson. Even if the Devils offered next year’s first round pick, it probably wouldn’t be good enough.

Getting Ekman-Larsson would have to be part of a blockbuster trade, almost like the Vatanen for Henrique trade was last season. What everyone is so quick to forget is that Anaheim was in a position to deal Vatanen, the Coyotes aren’t in a position to deal Ekman-Larsson. Anaheim had a ton of young defenseman that made Vatanen expendable, and Henrique was a hefty, but fair price. Arizona has no replacement for Ekman-Larsson lined up, so unless we’re talking a franchise altering deal, it was never going to happen.

Adam Henrique and the Devils look to avoid 10 straight losses tonight as they face Arizona. – Getty Images

Kevin Connauton

If you’ve been following my trade articles, you’ve probably noticed a pattern. We start by looking at right-handed, big-bodied defenseman, a roster spot the Devils surely lack. Even though the Coyotes are a good defensive team, by looking at potential one player trades, the pickings are a little slim, so instead of a righthanded defenseman, let’s look at the left-handed Kevin Connauton.

Connauton showed a ton of promise as a defender, coming off a 21-point year with a +3 rating after playing 70 games in 2017-18. He cooled off a little bit this season, only playing in 50 games and 8 points after an injury. Last offseason, he signed a two-year contract extension with Arizona, so if the Devils trade him, they’re only trading into one year at a $1.375 million annual value.

Although he’s shown bits and pieces of a scoring touch, it’s his big body presence that sells Connauton. He stands at 6-foo-2 and 205 pounds to be an intimidating force on the ice. At age 29, he’s also old enough that the Coyotes might not mind parting with him, but not too old for Shero to write off the idea.

Connauton was a previous late third-round pick, but the fact he matured into a consistent NHL caliber player upped his value a bit. With the coyotes rebuild finally begin to pay off, they might be in the mood for more assets instead of draft picks. If Arizona wants a defenseman in return, Connor Carrick plus a pick or two as part of a package would seem fit, but Arizona still needs a lot of help on offense. Maybe Pavel Zacha would get them interested in at least a discussion.

Conor Garland

Coming off his first year in the NHL, Garland played in 47 games to score 18 points, with 13 goals and five assists. Not headturning numbers, but he is only 23 and coming off his first professional NHL season. He was demoted back to the AHL, where he scored 25 points in 21 games, so there’s a decent amount of offensive upside.

The Devils should be interested in him because Garland is a right-winger. Considering how thin they are at that position, especially in the absence of Kyle Palmieri, having the young 23-year-old would move him past the likes of Kurtis Gabriel, Drew Stafford, and perhaps even Stefan Noesen. It wouldn’t be a gamechanging addition, but it would make the bottom six look much better.

Even though he was a late-round pick, his young age might give the Coyotes some hesitation in dealing him. Then again, his history of spending more time in the AHL than the NHL at age 23 might help the case to move him if someone’s willing to give something up. It all depends on how sold the Coyotes are in him, and him playing in the AHL while the big club was making a playoff push doesn’t seem like much. A thirdround pick might be overpaying, but a pay off pick might be deemed too little by Arizona. If Jersey can get him for a fourth, Garland should move to the sunny shores of Jersey.

Christian Fischer

Fisher is here for most of the same reasons Garland is: he’s a right winger with decent offensive upside, and the Devils need depth at that position. With 18 points in 71 games this season, don’t expect him to be the next Palmieri. Once again, he looks like more a replacement for Kurtis Gabriel, or the aging Drew Stafford, than Palmieri.

Fischer has been playing at the NHL level since 2017, after spending most of the prior season in the AHL and a short stint of games with the big league in Arizona. Unfortunately for Arizona, his best season in a Coyotes sweater came in 2017-18 when he had 33 points in 79 games, almost playing the full season. In slightly less games this season, he scored only 18 points.

Call it a sophomore slump, but those still aren’t numbers that should make the Coyotes say “keep this future superstar!” Unfortunately for the Devils, he was drafted with the second pick in the second round, almost a first round pick. He and Garland are of similar age and production, but the Coyotes spent so much more to get one. Arizona will want a second-round pick for him, but that seems like too much. Also realizing Arizona’s current state, in the home stretch of a rebuild, they’d want a player like Blake Coleman from the Devils in return. That might be too much to part with.

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