The Arizona Coyotes are currently in fifth place in the West Division. However, the team remains six points out of a playoff spot with the Los Angeles Kings one point behind them, making their chances of a playoff spot challenging, at best. Throw in the expectation that the Coyotes could soon undergo a rebuild with 11 unrestricted free agents currently on their roster and taxi squad and the team could find themselves sellers at the trade deadline.
Not coincidentally, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported late Saturday on the Headlines segment during Hockey Night in Canada, that the Coyotes have received significant inquiries about forward Conor Garland, who has been one of the bright spots on the team.
“I’m hearing Arizona’s been asked about him,” Friedman said. “And it’s not something I think they really want to do, but if the offer is big enough that it allows them to restock, I think they’re going to at least consider it.”
The 25-year-old Garland is no longer a prospect, but has emerged as one of the team’s top players. He currently leads the team with 25 points and is tied for second in goals behind Clayton Keller (10) with nine. Garland will be a restricted free agent this season with arbitration right and will receive a significant raise from his current $775K contract.
Garland broke out in a midseason callup during the 2018-19 season when he jumped into the league and tallied 13 goals in 47 games. He followed that up with a solid season last year, scoring 22 goals and 39 points in 68 games. However, Garland has been even more impressive this year, not too far off from being a point-per-game player, something that all teams could use to bolster their lineups, plus offer long-term firepower considering his age.
Friedman notes that the Coyotes would prefer not to trade Garland, but the young forward could bring in quite a return from teams looking to boost their scoring. On top of that, while many salary-capped teams have limited options to trade for with little to no wiggle-room under the salary cap, Garland would be a cheap option for any team, making his trade value significantly higher than many other trade deadline options.
There is a strong belief that many players in Arizona are trade deadline options, including a large contingent of defenders, including Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Jordan Oesterle and Ilya Lyubushkin (all UFAs). However, if Arizona put Garland on the market, it could be one of the team’s biggest returns.