The Arizona Coyotes are hoping to jump into the free agent market this summer, using their remaining cap space to improve the team for the 2019-20 season. They also however are exploring ways to open up roster spots as Craig Morgan of The Athletic (subscription required) examines in his latest article. Morgan notes that final decisions have not been made on whether the Coyotes will extend qualifying offers to Lawson Crouse, Nick Cousins and Josh Archibald while the team is also expected to move on from Kevin Connauton to fix their log jam on defense. One name that has also drawn plenty of interest according to Morgan is Christian Dvorak, including from the Minnesota Wild.
The Coyotes “aren’t shopping” Dvorak, but his name coming up in trade talks is certainly interesting. The 23-year old center is about to start a six-year extension that carries a $4.45MM cap hit and is coming off an injury-riddled season that saw him play just 20 games. Even before the disappointing 2018-19, Dvorak’s contract was a curious one given that he hadn’t scored more than 15 goals or 37 points in each of his first two seasons in the league. While he was certainly a piece that the Coyotes wanted to keep in the fold moving forward, the six-year term was a surprising one for a player that hadn’t shown a huge offensive upside to that point.
While Morgan notes that the offers have not yet been strong enough to pry Dvorak out of Arizona, it is interesting that the Wild would be involved given their recent shopping of Jason Zucker. Minnesota’s search for youth brought about deals that sent Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund packing, something that Dvorak would also represent for GM Paul Fenton. It is not clear if the Coyotes have any interest in Zucker at this point, or if the Wild are still set on trading him. Fenton recently told reporters including Michael Russo of The Athletic that he would only move the speedy forward if “the right thing” came along.
Even if the Wild don’t circle back on Dvorak, it will be interesting to see if the Coyotes entertain offers on a player who was once considered part of the core.