Arizona Coyotes Off-Season Free Agent Recap

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John Chayka and the Coyotes brain trust have been busy.  They’ve made some interesting trades and they have signed some of their own players to contract extensions and dipped into the not-so-free UFA market.  

Today, I’ll go through the free UFA signings and contract extensions chronologically and give my thoughts on them. 

Signings:

May 28: 

Mario Kempe

Pos:  W   Shot:  L
DOB: Sept. 19, 1988   Born: Kramfors, Sweden
Height: 6′   Weight: 185
Drafted: 2007 by Philadelphia   Rnd: 5th  Overall: 122 
2017-18: NHL –  GP: 18  G: 2   A: 2  Pts: 4  PIM: 4  
2017-18: AHL – GP: 47  G: 18  A: 19 Pts: 37 PIM: 22

The Coyotes have signed forward Mario Kempe to a one-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $700,000 in the NHL and $300,000 in the AHL.  

Analysis:

This is a low-level signing as it pertains to the NHL roster.  Kempe is a depth/fill-in option for the Coyotes.  His real worth is down in Tucson with the Roadrunners.

Final Thought:

There is nothing here to get to excited or too upset about.

This contract gets: 👍

June 27:

Kevin Cannauton

Pos: D   Shot:  L
DOB:
Feb. 23, 1990   Born: Edmonton , Alberta
Height: 
6′ 2″   Weight: 205
Drafted:
2009 by Vancouver   Rnd: 3rd  Overall: 83
2017-18:  GP:
73  G: 11  A: 10  Pts: 21  PIM: 20  Plus/Minus:  +3

The Arizona Coyotes have signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a two-year contract with an AAV of $1,375,000 per season.  He will receive $1,250,000 in his first year and $1,500,000 in year two.  

Analysis:

I was very surprised when the Coyotes claimed him off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets a couple of years ago but I really didn’t know much about him.  I was looking for holes in his game to see why Columbus gave up on him but I was pleasantly surprised by his overall game.  He is decent offensively and he’s solid in his own end AND he competes very hard.  He is a bottom of the lineup defenceman that can play up in the lineup on a temporary basis and adds nice depth to the Coyotes blueline.  

Final Thought:

This is a decent signing and the contract has the right amount of term. 

This contract gets: 👍

July 1: 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Pos: D   Shot:  L
DOB:
Jul. 21, 1991   Born: Karlskrona, Sweden
Height: 
6′ 2″   Weight: 200
Drafted:
2009 by Arizona   Rnd: 1st  Overall: 6th
2017-18:  GP:
82  G: 14  A: 28  Pts: 42  PIM: 44  Plus/Minus:  -28

The Coyotes have signed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension that kicks in the 2019-20 season.  This contract carries an AAV of $8,250,000 per season.

Analysis:

Signing OEL was a no-brainer.  When he is playing his best he is elite and can carry a team.  OEL has been one of my favorite Coyotes players since he arrived in the desert so it pains to say that he hasn’t been elite for a couple of years now.  His offensive numbers are down and he’s been a disaster in his own end.  The Coyotes brain-trust are obviously gambling that he returns to the OEL from the 2015-16 season and as the team gets stronger he can take the team off his back.  This is a lot of money and a lot of term for Ekman-Larsson. 

Final Thought:

Do I like the player?  Yes.  Am I glad he resigned a long-term deal?  Yes.  Do I like this contract?  No. 

This contract gets: 👎

July 1: 

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Pos: D   Shot:  L
DOB:
Jun. 6, 1987   Born: Eksjo, Sweden
Height: 
6′ 3″   Weight: 200
Drafted:
2005 by Chicago  Rnd: 4th  Overall: 108
2017-18:  GP:
48  G: 1  A: 8  Pts: 9  PIM: 18  Plus/Minus:  -3

Defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson has signed a two-year contract extension that starts in 2019-20.  Hjalmarsson’s new deal will carry an AAV of $5,000,000 and take him through the 2020-21 season. 

Analysis:

Niklas Hjalmarsson is a solid defenceman that Coyotes’ fans never really got to see last season due to injuries.  GM John Chayka called him elite but I’m not sure he was ever elite but he was a key part of Chicago’s Stanley Cup winning bluelines.  There is no doubt the Coyotes are paying for his experience and his past performance.  I don’t mind this signing but I’m not sure what the rush in extending him was?  I’m always a little weary of extending players coming off a season with injuries.

Final Thought:

This is a good signing.  Hjalmarsson’s experience is much needed in a young Coyotes locker-room. 

This contract gets: 👍

Michael Grabner

Pos: F   Shot:  L
DOB:
Oct.5, 1987   Born: Villach, Austria
Height: 
6′ 1″ Weight: 190
Drafted:
2006 by Vancouver  Rnd: 1st  Overall: 14th
2017-18:  GP:
80  G: 27  A: 9  Pts: 36  PIM: 18  Plus/Minus:  -3

The Yotes signed forward Michael Grabner to a three-year contract with an AAV of $3,350,000 per season.

Analysis:

This was a sneaky nice signing by John Chayka.  The 30-year-old Grabner is still an elite skater that can kill penalties and can score if he is used in the right spot in the line-up.  This is another good veteran signing to help mentor an extremely young forward group.

Final Thought:

Fair AAV.  Good term.  I really like this acquisition and so will the PK unit.  I’m sure former Rangers Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta put in a good word for Michael Grabner.

This contract gets:👍

July 3:

Brad Richardson 

Pos: C   Shot:  L
DOB:
Feb.4, 1985   Born: Belleville, ONT
Height: 
6′  Weight: 190
Drafted:
2003 by Colorado  Rnd: 5th  Overall: 163rd
2017-18:  GP:
76  G: 3  A: 12  Pts: 15  PIM: 45  Plus/Minus:  -24

Brad Richardson signed a two-year contract extension.   His new deal is for an AAV of $1,250,000 per season.

Analysis:

This was a comfort signing for the Arizona Coyotes and Brad Richardson took an $800,000 a year haircut to return to the valley.  Richardson is a decent penalty killer and has a very good compete level.  He is a solid fourth line player that doesn’t hurt the team.

Final Thought:

No harm, no foul here.  Richie can still contribute and keep a seat warm for the next wave of Coyotes prospects.

This contract gets:👍

 

Tucson Roadrunner signings

July 3:

The Arizona Coyotes also announced that they have signed defenseman Dakota Mermis to a one-year, two-way contract.

July 14:

The Arizona Coyotes have signed forwards Michael Bunting, Laurent Dauphin, Hudson Fasching, and defenseman Trevor Murphy to one-year, two-way contracts.  These are basically Tucson Roadrunner signings but Hudson Fasching might get a little longer look during Coyotes training camp.

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