Coyotes GM John Chayka: ‘It just made sense to move’ Michael Stone
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes never closed the book on re-signing defenseman Michael Stone, but the one-year, $4 million deal they gave him last summer, coming off ACL and MCL surgery in the spring, was definitely a prove-it contract.
In the end, Stone couldn’t prove enough to the Coyotes to keep him a part of their future.
The Coyotes traded Stone to Calgary on Monday for a third-round draft pick in 2017 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2018, reuniting him with Flames GM Brad Treliving, who was Arizona’s assistant GM from 2003 to 2014. The fifth-round pick is conditional on Calgary re-signing Stone. The Coyotes will retain half of Stone’s prorated salary ($544,444).
“One of the reasons why we did the one-year deal is we just wanted to see how he would come back and play,” said Chayka of Stone, who has one goal and nine points in 45 games. “I think he’d be the first one to say he didn’t play his best this year but at the same time, where we’re at with our team in our life cycle, he’s a pending UFA. It just made sense to move him to a good situation.
“I think Calgary’s a perfect situation for him. Brad knows him well, knows what he can do and will put him in a good situation to be successful. He’s got some roots up there; played junior up there. His wife’s got some roots up there, too. For all those reasons, it’s good for him and that’s important to me, too.”
Treliving said the Flames were looking for help immediately as they try to secure a playoff spot. Entering Monday’s games, Calgary was in the final Western Conference wild-card spot, one point ahead of Winnipeg and two points ahead of Los Angeles.
“In a perfect world, we thought we’d like to add somebody on the right side to give us some depth and at the end of the day, we felt the price was manageable,” Treliving said. “We have five games to go [before the trade deadline] so if you can get ahead it — does it help you in those five games? If he can help us and we can pick up some points in this time, let’s do it. No question that was a factor. We are in the thick of it.”
With the Flames traveling on Monday to Nashville, Treliving hadn’t spoken with coach Glen Gulutzan since the trade, but Treliving envisions Stone, a right-handed shot, playing either with T.J. Brodie on the team’s second pairing or with Matt Bartkowski on the third pairing.
“T.J has some tempo to him so that could be a good fit. Whether it’s him or Bartkowski, we feel there’s a style fit,” Treliving said. “We have some left-side guys who can skate and when Stony is at his best he’s playing with a partner who can skate and retrieve pucks so he can stabilize.”
Stone, 26, was the Coyotes’ third-round pick (69th overall) in 2008. He played 324 games with the Coyotes, recording 96 points on 24 goals and 72 assists. He had his best season last year when he scored six goals and added 30 assists.
While he refused to call the injury a factor in his production this season, he did openly wonder if things might have been different had he not suffered the injury.
“It’s possible it would be different. I had a pretty good season up until that point,” said Stone, who was injured on March 26 against Philadelphia. “But that obviously helped me get the deal I’ve got right now, too. It’s a bit frustrating how I’ve played this season and not building on what I did last year. I know I’m capable of doing that, though.”
Chayka said the Coyotes evaluated the market for Stone and when Treliving “stepped up,” there was no need to wait until the trade deadline to make the deal. Chayka said the team also wanted to give greater opportunities to other players, including Jakob Chychrun, who scored Monday against Anaheim, Kevin Connauton, who has only played 17 games this season, and right-hander Anthony DeAngelo, who is playing with Tucson of the AHL but will likely be recalled soon.
Chayka was asked if he was surprised that Stone wouldn’t be a part of the team’s future, given his production last season before the injury.
“Last year, in February if you’d have said to me that with the [acquired first-round] Rangers pick we’d be able to turn it into Jakob Chychrun and he’d be ready to play, yeah I would have been surprised,” Chayka said. “I thought he’d be playing for the Sarnia Sting (OHL) this year. The fact that he’s up playing with us and playing quite well, that part is surprising to me.
“We were able to get Anthony DeAngelo for a second-round pick as well; a right shot defenseman so I think the landscape has just shifted since a year ago.”