With the trade deadline approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that have a good chance to be dealt by February 26th.
With another dismal season in the desert, the Arizona Coyotes will once again attempt to unload their veteran players with the hopes of picking up some draft picks and opening roster spots so the team can promote some of their young talent in the minors. While the team may want to hold onto some of their offseason trade acquisitions a bit longer like Derek Stepan or Niklas Hjalmarsson, there are others such as defenseman Jason Demers, who the team will likely shop in hopes of finding a taker.
One reason Arizona was able to get Demers for such a cheap price (for Jamie McGinn) was that the Coyotes were willing to eat his contract. The 29-year-old defenseman still has three years remaining on the five-year, $22.5MM ($4.45MM AAV) deal he signed in 2016 with the Florida Panthers. However, the Panthers will retain $563K for each of the next four years, which brings his salary down to just under $4MM per year.
While the Coyotes had high hopes that with the addition of Demers and Hjalmarsson to go with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski and second-year defenseman Jakob Chychrun, the team’s defense and new goaltender Antti Raanta might stabilize their defense. That hasn’t happened, although Demers has played well with the Coyotes and been a consistent defensive presence all season. While his offensive numbers have been modest at best (three goals this year compared to nine last year), he has played well defensively and is averaging a solid 21:06 of ice time.
50 GP, 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points, -11 rating, 29 PIM, 21:46 ATOI, 51.1 CF%
While Demers is no rental player, the team has to hope a team is willing to take on three more years of his contract for a trade to work. Even if they were willing to retain some of his salary, finding a taker might be challenging. While the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown interest in Demers in previous years and might be looking for a defenseman, the likelihood they would be willing to take on his contract for three more years when their cap situation ready to explode at that time suggests they aren’t a great match. Perhaps a team with ample cap space such as the San Jose Sharks, the Colorado Avalanche or even the Winnipeg Jets might be willing to take on that contract. The New York Islanders also could use some defense, but would likely have to send some salary back to make a deal work.
Likelihood of a Trade
Arizona is likely more than willing, but again, it all comes down to whether any team wants to take on the three years remaining on his salary and how much Arizona might be willing to retain. Demers isn’t that high priced, but the defenseman is hardly that great player that will change a team’s playoff fortunes around. Yet, he is a solid, respectable defenseman who might make a solid pickup to a team’s defensive rotation.