Like most general managers around the league, John Chayka is playing the waiting game with the NHL’s March 1 trade deadline still two weeks away.
“The real key in this whole thing is teams that are looking for rental players are looking to minimize cap impact,” the Coyotes GM said Tuesday. “Some of these guys make $15,000 to $20,000 a day so the closer you get to the deadline the less the cap impact.”
While Colorado, Arizona, Detroit, Carolina and Buffalo may have given up the playoff ghost this season, more than two-thirds of the league’s teams are either in playoff position or within striking distance.
“There’s a large enough group of teams that feel they have the ability to win,” Chayka said. “That’s what will set the price for rental players.”
As Arizona Sports previously reported multiple times, the Coyotes have not held substantive contract talks with either center Martin Hanzal or defenseman Michael Stone since the summer, making them the two most likely players to be dealt.
“Martin Hanzal is as good as they come when it comes to a matchup center against other teams’ top lines,” Chayka said. “He plays that hard, heavy game that is playoff hockey and he’s been excellent for us lately. Teams that want to win Stanley Cups, they want Martin Hanzal in their lineup.”
Right wing Radim Vrbata would likely only be moved if a team was willing to wow the Coyotes with a deal for the proven scorer. A mid-round pick likely won’t entice the Coyotes.
“It’s pretty simple,” Chayka said. “He’s our leading scorer, he’s a right shot and we don’t have a lot of right shots on our team. He offers a lot of value to our club.”
Chayka said there has been “no discussion whatsoever” of Shane Doan waiving his no-move clause to facilitate a trade.
Chayka did not address particular trade rumors with any of his players, noting that there is a lot of chatter right now that may be off base, but he identified the center position, right wing and a young goaltender as roster holes the team would like to fill in any deals.
TOILING IN TUCSON
Anthony Duclair has never experienced a scoring drought of this magnitude in his life. In 50 games split between the Coyotes and Tucson Roadrunners, the 21-year-old right wing had four goals before the Roadrunners’ game on Tuesday night in San Jose.
“It’s been an awful year for myself and I take full responsibility for that,” he said by phone Tuesday. “The chances are there but the puck is not going in for me right now. Confidence is a big factor and when the puck isn’t going in, confidence goes down a bit.”
Since the Coyotes assigned Duclair to Tucson on Jan. 19, he has one goal and five assists in nine games, but he says he has been working on his “200-foot game” and Chayka said he is making progress overall.
“The last three to four games, they have been excellent,” Chayka said, lumping Duclair in with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, who was also re-assigned. “It’s a tough thing, balancing getting sent down to the minors with working on the things you need to improve. It has taken him a little bit to get back up and running.
“He just has to earn that recall. He’s as talented a player as we have in the organization. It’s about doing it consistently and we need him to drive some of his own offense and not be as reliant on other players to do some of those other things.”
Duclair knows his name has surfaced in trade talks but it is unlikely he will be moved unless another team wows the Coyotes with an offer — an improbable occurrence given Duclair’s struggles this season.
“I already talked to John and Tip (coach Dave Tippett) about it and I made it very clear I want to stay in Arizona and be a Coyote,” Duclair said. “It’s just me being in a bad slump, having one bad year, but they are not giving up on me and I appreciate that.”
— As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, the Coyotes will honor 12 players from the original 1996-97 team on Saturday when they play the San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes played their first home game in the Valley on Oct. 10, 1996 vs. San Jose. Among the players participating in the ceremonial puck drop on Feb. 18 are: Shane Doan, Keith Tkachuk, Teppo Numminen, Dallas Drake, Mike Gartner, Cliff Ronning, Nikolai Khabibulin, Craig Janney, Kris King, Oleg Tverdovsky, Jim McKenzie and Mike Stapleton. Jeremy Roenick cannot attend due to work commitments with NBC.