On Tuesday night, Arizona rookie left winger Lawson Crouse played in his ninth NHL game, the limit before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in. Craig Morgan of AZ Sports reports (via Twitter) that Crouse will remain with the team and continue to play, thereby officially making his contract start.
In those nine games, Crouse has a goal along with a -4 rating, four penalty minutes, and 11 shots on goal while averaging 10:41 per night in a bottom six role. He also has 21 hits, tied for the second highest among Arizona forwards.
The next key deadline is the 39 game plateau. If Crouse is on the active roster for that many games (which includes ones spent as healthy scratches), he will accrue one year towards unrestricted free agency. Basically, if he’s on the active roster for a 40th game, he’ll be eligible to become a UFA at age 26 instead of 27.
More than likely, the next decision regarding Crouse’s future will be made in mid-December which is just before the start of the World Junior Hockey Championships. If the Coyotes to decide to loan him for that tournament, it would suggest that they’d be leaning towards sending back to junior later on this season before he gets to that 40 game threshold.
In the meantime, once Crouse plays in his next game, it will trigger the condition on the 2018 second round pick from the August trade with Florida that also saw the Coyotes take on Dave Bolland’s contract. Since Crouse is burning the first year of his contract, the Panthers will receive Arizona’s second round pick in 2018; if he didn’t, that pick would have become a 2018 third rounder.
[Related: Coyotes Depth Chart]