ESPN gives Arizona Coyotes ‘C’ grade for trade deadline moves

Mar 26, 2022, 10:13 AM

It should not come as a surprise that the Arizona Coyotes are trying to accumulate assets and build for the future of the franchise.

Monday’s 2022 NHL trade deadline came and went and ESPN’s Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski gave the Yotes a ‘C’ grade for the moves made.

The team added F Jack McBain, F Nick Ritchie, the rights to F Nathan Smith, G Harri Sateri and F Bryan Little while losing F Johan Larsson, D Ilya Lyubushkin, F Riley Nash, G Scott Wedgewood in the process.

It’s the elephant in the room; Arizona did not trade Jakob Chychrun or Phil Kessel.

GM Bill Armstrong said he tried on Kessel, one of the club’s pending UFAs with a $6.8 million AAV on his contract. The size of that hit may have proved unappealing for some teams.

As for Chychrun, Armstrong had a big ask for the top-four defender, and no suitor stepped up with an offer he deemed worthy. Too bad.

The best move Armstrong made was getting Ritchie from Toronto earlier this month in exchange for Lyubushkin. Ritchie was having a terrible season for the Leafs but perked up immediately in the desert sun to score five goals and seven points in his first 11 games. That Ritchie also has another season of reasonable value (at $2.5 million) makes the transaction even sweeter.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Monday to discuss the moves made, and not made.

“You got to get the right pieces,” he explained. “I think that’s the most important thing out of the deal and there’s been a lot of noise about the deal (Kessel that it was going to happen.

“You gotta remember at some point in time, when teams are going for the cup, they’re not going to break apart their team to give you the pieces that you need sometimes in a fair deal.”

ESPN also mentioned the signing of goalie Karel Vejmelka to a three-year extension as a positive for Arizona, noting his .905 save percentage this season.

McBain and Smith were the two names that jumped off the page for the Coyotes.

Armstrong acquired Smith from the Winnipeg Jets developmental system for a fourth-round pick, while taking on the contract of Little, who hasn’t played since 2019-20 season. Smith notched 49 points this collegiate season with Minnesota State-Mankato.

McBain was acquired this summer in a trade that saw the Coyotes send a second-round pick to the Minnesota Wild. He also appeared for Canada in the 2022 Olympics.

Arizona signed McBain to a two-year entry-level contract on Wednesday.

In other moves, the Coyotes traded injured forward Johan Larsson to the Washington Capitals for a 2023 third-round pick and signed goalie Harri Sateri off waivers.

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