The NHL trade deadline expires Wednesday at 1:00 PM MST time, and there is a lot of speculation about what the Phoenix Coyotes will do.
The impetus for that speculation is the team’s lackluster play. The Coyotes are just 9-15-6 in their last 30 games and have earned just one point in three contests since returning from the Olympic break.
Yet, Phoenix is just three points behind Dallas for the final Western Conference Wild Card spot with 21 games left. A trade could be just what the doctor ordered for a franchise hoping to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a one-year absence.
“There is no question that Don Maloney, our GM, and his staff are working the phones and seeing what’s going on, but I think the reality is, you have 25 teams that are in the situation we’re in, which is we’re either in a playoff spot or close to one, so when you only have five sellers and 25 buyers, it makes for an interesting trade deadline period,” Coyotes’ president, CEO and co-owner Anthony LeBlanc told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday.
Heading into Tuesday night’s action, only the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are more than 10 points out of a Wild Card spot.
But the glut of teams looking for help won’t prevent the Coyotes from making a deal if a player who would fill a need should become available.
“I think we’ve been pretty open that one of the things we’re looking for is another forward in the mix, especially a left winger to play with (Martin) Hanzal and (Radim) Vrbata,” LeBlanc said. “I think we’ve constantly been looking and I spent some time talking to (Maloney) yesterday and I think there might be some interesting things.
“But at the end of the day, we’re also very content — I mean, we’re frustrated like all the fans are. We’re very frustrated with how, in particular, the last few games have gone since the Olympic break. But when we look at our team, our opinion hasn’t changed from the beginning of the year, we’re somewhat mystified at why we’re having the inconsistency we’re having.”
About that inconsistency, LeBlanc shared his theory on why the Coyotes have fallen in the standings since mid-December.
“I think it’s been a collection, almost a comedy of errors at times,” he said. “If you talk to (goalie) Mike Smith, he’ll tell you there are times that he hasn’t made the saves he probably should have or would have on a regular day.
“I don’t think our offense has been clicking like it should. When you look at the first 20 games of the season, and then you look at where we are now — and there’s no question we had a lot of what we like to refer to as ‘puck luck’ in the first 20 or so games — there was just a lot more consistency and quite frankly — and I’m not going to sit here and try to excuses because I think we have a good team, a playoff team — but certainly we haven’t played our best or strongest since the Olympic break.”