In this week’s 31 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two hosts enter into discussion over Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi and where his future may lie. Domi has been involved in trade speculation for more than a year, and after his second consecutive season with fewer than 10 goals, that isn’t expected to end anytime soon. Friedman links Domi to the Pittsburgh Penguins this time around:
One of the things that I heard just around the Cup Final is that I think the Penguins have interest in him. There was a point last year where I thought he was going to get traded. His name was out there. I believe there are teams with interest, I believe Montreal for example had some interest in Max Domi. I think Pittsburgh is going through some changes, and Domi is one of the guys they’re really interested in.
The venerable insider goes on to note that Penguins’ owner Mario Lemieux and Tie Domi, Max’ father, are close friends. Though that doesn’t signify anything specific, the fact that Marek admits he’s also heard rumblings about the young Coyotes forward likely points to at least passing interest from Pittsburgh.
Domi, 23, was selected 12th-overall in 2013 but hasn’t become the true top line player many expected him to be. With 45 points in 2017-18 he’s clearly not a negative on the Coyotes roster, but after being a huge goal scoring threat in junior and notching 18 as a rookie he was expected to put up bigger totals as he progressed. That progression has taken him all the way to restricted free agency this summer, where he’ll have a very interesting case to negotiate with the Coyotes.
This season new head coach Rick Tocchet made the decision to move Domi back to center part way through the year, a position he hadn’t played since his first year of junior. Though he found mixed success at the position and eventually was moved back to the wing, the fact that he now has some added versatility to his resume could bring even more suitors out of the bushes. Teams like Pittsburgh may want to take a look at the young forward in the middle, especially if he can continue to be defensively responsible and distribute to his linemates. It’s important to note though that 18 of Domi’s 45 points came in his final 20 games as he was lining up on the wing.
If the Coyotes want to move onto the next wave of forwards, led by Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome, perhaps Domi is a name that they’d be willing to move out. Bringing back some more veteran talent to help the team win in the short term would go along with the moves that Arizona made last offseason, when they acquired Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers.
As a note—speculative as it might be—Tocchet’s close relationship with Phil Kessel has been widely reported, and with the news recently of the Penguins potentially considering a trade for the enigmatic forward, a fit could be found in Arizona. Kessel of course holds a list of just eight teams he can be traded to, and no discussions have been reported between the two sides. If the Penguins are interested in Domi though, they’ll have to pay a steep price. Whether he’s a perfect fit in Arizona or not, he still holds quite a bit of value to the Coyotes.