The Arizona Coyotes have $33.2 million of cap space that will allow them to make some significant moves while in the midst of a rebuild. General manager Bill Armstrong has stockpiled seven draft picks in just the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL Draft. Whether he uses those picks or trades them may make the difference between the rebuild getting accelerated or prolonged.
Building for the Future From the Draft
Armstrong is no stranger to the concept that to build a winner, one must draft with the best of them. He and his skilled staff are doing just that as you read this. It appears that Armstrong will have picks #3, #27 (from Carolina), and # 32 (from Colorado) in the first round. In the next round, he will have #36 (from Philadelphia), #43 (from San Jose), and #45 (from the New York Islanders), besides their own second-rounder. That leaves Armstrong with some excellent leverage in making deals. If a team wants to move up in either of the first two rounds, they can give Armstrong a call.
Arizona Coyotes Cap Space Advantage
The beauty of having excessive salary cap space is the flexibility of doing different things to achieve your goals of improving your team. This is where Armstrong can shine and help the Coyotes organization come into its own. They can actually take over other teams’ contracts with the excessive cap space. A player like Petr Mrazek of the Toronto Maple Leafs comes to mind. He carries a $3.8 million contract through 2023-24 and the Leafs are always low on cap space with three forwards holding $33.5 million or 41 percent of their total cap space. Ridding themselves of Mrazek’s contract would do them well in trying to find room to re-sign four unrestricted and four restricted free agents on their roster.
The Leafs have just $7.8 million in cap space. It just so happens that the Coyotes also need another goalie to complement Karel Vejmelka. Not only does signing players like this assist in the Yotes getting a return for doing so, but it also brings them up to the salary cap basement.
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Some Current Roster Players Will be Re-signed
Players like Barrett Hayton, Lawson Crouse, and Christian Fischer will more than likely be inked to new deals. According to dobberhockey.com, Hayton should collect a $1.064 million deal, while Crouse should be able to gather a $3.652 deal for one year. Crouse will hopefully either be traded since his trade value is at its highest or get a long-term deal. He really increased his value this past season with 20 goals and 34 points in 65 games. He’s big (6′-4″, 220 pounds) and led the team in hits with 181. He is the exact prototype player that Armstrong is fond of having on his roster. Tough to play against, and brings it every game. They will more than likely re-sign him and why not?
Hayton has progressed, while at a slower pace than expected. He had 10 goals, and 24 points in 60 games. With the Yotes liking his potential, he really needs to step it up if he does get a new contract. He can be a second-line center and there are hopes that if the Coyotes strike gold and can draft Connor Bedard, he will be their first-line center, hands down.
Of course, for the Arizona club to even think about winning the Bedard sweepstakes, they will need lots of lottery luck, which has escaped them for years. Perhaps this will be their luck finally turning around.
Young Prospects Are Making Strides
Players like Nathan Smith, Jack McBain, Jan Jenik, Matias Maccelli, and Dylan Guenther are the future of this team. If Armstrong can build on the youth prospect pool, the Coyotes will be a team to reckon with. If Armstrong takes the Colorado Avalanche as an example of what can be done in a rebuild, then nothing but good fortune will follow this team.
With the prospects of a possible new arena in Tempe taking hold, there’s plenty to look forward to if you follow this team. They are on a journey, and with the leadership of Bill Armstrong, they are on their way.
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