Off the Ice: Should the Phoenix Coyotes make a move for a left wing?

Mar 1, 2014, 7:50 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2014, 7:49 pm

Let’s talk trades, shall we?

As it stands, the Phoenix Coyotes are a bubble team this season at best. I’m not bashing the team, but being realistic. They’re not giving their defense the leads it needs, and they are finding ways to let points slip through their fingers. It’s simple.

So, where’s the problem? As I see it, there are two. The first is the hole left by Rostislav Klesla, who wasn’t the same player after a big preseason hit by Los Angeles Kings forward Jordan Nolan. Phoenix has missed his stay-at-home presence on the blue line since he was sent down to the American Hockey League. But they shouldn’t move for a heavy D-man unless an incredible deal makes itself available. They have plenty of youth coming up.

The second (and the most glaring) is the lack of a top-six left wing to skate with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal. They’ve needed one since Ray Whitney departed the Valley in free agency two years ago. This is the fix the Coyotes need now.

If they want to make the playoffs, general manager Don Maloney needs to get on the phone and make a few trades. There aren’t a lot of options out there, but he’s been known to work miracles. Of course, he has to be cautious about buying too high. The last thing he wants to do is to cost the new ownership unnecessary money for no reward.

In the slideshow below are my top trade targets for the Coyotes along with the likelihood they put on a Phoenix sweater this season. Keep in mind, these are deals I think would benefit the team and make an impact. I don’t want to see the team throw another Band-Aid player in the left wing slot.

Martin St. Louis, RW, Tampa Bay LightningLikelihood: No way, no howI couldn't talk trades without mentioning Marty, who is reportedly ready to leave Tampa Bay. His $5 million contract is well-deserved, but he has a full no-trade clause. At 38, something tells me he's ready to move to perennial contender who's ready to offer him a sweet deal that will set him up for life. And who can blame him? Marty's earned it. (AP Photo) Jussi Jokinen, LW, Pittsburgh PenguinsLikelihood: Off-seasonThe Pens are currently one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup. There is no way they give up Jokinen, who is putting in time on the power play and has 43 points this season. However, he's only making $3 million this season. He doesn't bring a heavy style of play, which helps the Vrbata-Hanzal line, but his skill is up there. The Coyotes should take a look at him when free agency opens. (AP Photo) Ryan Callahan, RW, New York RangersLikelihood: Not good, but temptingStick with me on this one. Callahan is looking for a Dustin Brown-esque contract after this season. He wants to get paid and New York is not likely to give it to him. But Callahan can help a team make the playoffs. He'd be a rental, but he would bring the combination of an aggressive forecheck with skill that the Vrbata-Hanzal line would benefit from. Don't see this happening as the Rangers will want too much, but he'd be a great fit. (AP Photo) Ales Hemsky, RW, Edmonton OilersLikelihood: DecentIf the Coyotes are willing to deal, Hemsky may be had from Edmonton. He's only posted 24 points this season, but may be able to flourish on the Hanzal-Vrbata line. The problem? His $5 million salary. He certainly hasn't produced at the same level of other NHL forwards with similar contracts. If the Oilers are willing to hold a little salary, Hemsky could actually make sense. (AP Photo) Tomas Fleischmann, LW, Florida PanthersLikelihood: Steal for PhoenixIf Maloney could wrangle it, Fleischmann could be a steal for Phoenix. His no-trade clause, $4.5 million salary and 24 points could be off-putting, but let's break that down. No one wants to play for the Panther (sorry), the salary is doable if Florida is given a good enough deal and 24 points is nothing to frown at, considering the Panthers aren't exactly a stellar team. Of all the options, I think Fleischmann is the best fit for Phoenix. (AP Photo) Matt Moulson, LW, Buffalo Sabres
Likelihood: Possible
Moulson has long been in the rumor mill. The Sabres are terrible and are clearly looking to stockpile both picks and young talent. The Coyotes could be willing to offer both, though I wouldn't buy too high on Moulson. His $3.9 million salary is certainly palatable, but he's a UFA after this season. Also, his 26 points aren't exactly tearing up the NHL. That being said, he's being openly shopped and is one of the better rental LWs available. (AP Photo) Ray Whitney, LW, Dallas StarsLikelihood: Not good
Could the Wizard make a return to the desert? While I think the respect for Whitney is there, I'm not convinced he's ready to don a Coyotes sweater again. After all, Phoenix refused to offer him a multi-year deal after a huge season and he left for Dallas. Factor in his $4.5 million expiring contract, his age (41) and the fact that Dallas is close to Phoenix in the standings, I don't see Whitney coming back. (AP Photo) Thomas Vanek, LW, New York IslandersLikelihood: Waste of assetsVanek is a damn talented winger. He can pass, shoot and positions himself well. He'd fit in well with the Coyotes. But he'd be a wast of assets. It's no secret he wants to test the market. He'll make money, but my bet is he ends up in Minnesota with his pal, Jason Pominville. He'd be a great rental for a team that's already in the playoffs, but his time in Phoenix would be short. (AP Photo)

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Off the Ice: Should the Phoenix Coyotes make a move for a left wing?