News and notes around the NHL:
- With the recent signings of Connor Murphy and Michael Stone, the Arizona Coyotes now have eight defensemen signed to NHL deals—and that’s not even including top draft prospect Jake Chychrun, whom the Coyotes moved up for in the 2016 NHL Draft. As Craig Morgan of AZSports writes, the backlog of NHL-ready defensemen poses both problem and prosperity for the team. It creates a logjam of defensemen and little opportunity for prospects like Chychrun to get playing time, but it also gives them expendable pieces to upgrade other areas. The Coyotes may have to look elsewhere for offensive help if they cannot re-sign RFA Tobias Rieder before the season starts. Trading from a position of strength to obtain a forward kills two birds with one stone. Take a look at Arizona’s depth chart at Roster Resource.
- UFA Sam Gagner is close to signing a deal with an NHL team, according to his agent. Gagner last played for the Philadelphia Flyers where he scored 8G and 8A in 53 games. The Canadian center held much promise as a member of the Edmonton Oilers from 2007-2014, including netting eight points in one game, but never fulfilled the potential scouts thought he had. Gagner will probably take a one-year “prove it” deal to try and revitalize his career.
- RFA Tyson Barrie completed his arbitration hearing today, and the arbitrator will issue her decision within 48 hours. Because Colorado offered a $4MM contract, and Barrie offered a $6MM contract, the arbitrator’s decision will most likely meet the threshold ($3.9MM) to open up Colorado’s walk-away rights. If Colorado chooses to invoke those rights, they will be stuck with the arbitrator’s decision for one year before Barrie becomes a free agent. When a team elects a two-year term decision for any player-elected salary arbitration, using walk away rights reduces the arbitrator’s decision down to one year, and then the player becomes a UFA.