Coyotes offseason primer: Free agents, trade options and draft picks galore
While the NHL playoffs continue to run its course, teams not in the hunt for the Stanley Cup have turned their attention to the offseason.
For the Arizona Coyotes, it could be another offseason filled with transactions after the team finished the 2021-22 season with a 25-50-7 record.
General manager Bill Armstrong will have no shortage of resources available this offseason, as the Coyotes are projected to have upwards of $33 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.
With the NHL free agency signing period beginning on July 13, let’s break down some of the key decisions the Coyotes will have to make this summer:
Unrestricted free agents
The Coyotes have a number of skaters set to be unrestricted free agents come July 13, with the group headlined by forward Phil Kessel.
Kessel, 34, has spent the last three seasons of his 16-year NHL career in Arizona and notched 52 points in 2021-22. The forward is just one goal away from 400 on his career.
At this stage of his career, Kessel could be looking to join another contender in pursuit of a Stanley Cup, which he won twice during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kessel just finished the last year of his eight-year, $8 million per year contract that he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013.
Though the Coyotes have cap space, the franchise might not be willing to offer Kessel that money given his age.
Arizona has a handful of other skaters who are UFAs, mostly being veteran forwards as well as 35-year-old defenseman Anton Stralman.
Forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and Bokondji Imama are all set to be unrestricted free agents.
Restricted free agents
While the players above have unrestricted rights and could go wherever they choose in free agency, the Coyotes also have five players who will be restricted free agents come July 13.
The group is headlined by forwards Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer, both of whom could be in line for a raise with Arizona.
Should a team make an offer for either Crouse or Fischer, the Coyotes will be able to match any deal. Being restricted free agents, the Coyotes could also trade either player to a new team.
Both forwards are also eligible for arbitration, which allows a third party to determine a fair contract term and length if necessary.
21-year-old forward Barrett Hayton is also an RFA and a player the Coyotes will look to keep around for the long haul.
On the blue line, young defensemen Cam Dineen (23) and Kyle Capobianco (24) are set to be RFAs also eligible for arbitration.
The Coyotes have certainly been trade-active in previous offseasons and that could be the case once again this summer.
Trade rumors and speculation have long been surrounding 24-year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who still has three years left on his current contract.
At just a $4.6 million cap hit, many teams could be calling Armstrong to inquire on Chychrun. It won’t come cheap though, as Armstrong will likely want multiple draft picks and a top-prospect in exchange.
After scoring 14 goals and registering 51 points in his first season in Arizona, fellow defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could also gain some traction from other teams.
Gostisbehere is set to be an unrestricted free agent after next season.
With Crouse being a restricted free agent, he’s one the Coyotes could look to move for more capital after scoring 20 goals this past season.
Armstrong and co. will have a big decision to make with Crouse, as they could trade him for a number of assets, or keep him around to be a key player in the turnaround.
The Coyotes will pick No. 3 overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft on July 7 after receiving the selection at the May 10 NHL Draft Lottery.
Arizona will also pick two more times during the first round, owning the selections of the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche.
The Coyotes are still waiting to see where those picks will fall, with both the Hurricanes and Avalanche looking to advance to their respective conference finals.
It won’t stop there for the Coyotes, however, having four picks in the draft’s second round.