Monday, 7:53 pm: As expected, after acquiring him, the Arizona Coyotes have signed forward Jack McBain to an entry-level contract. The contract is for two years and carries a cap hit of $884K. What is most notable about this contract is that it begins this year, perhaps giving the Coyotes a chance to give McBain an NHL look this year. The 22-year-old just finished his fourth season at Boston College and was set to be granted free agency this summer if he did not sign. One wrinkle to this story, however, is that McBain is currently injured and is in a walking boot, reports Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports. Once healed, McBain can begin to work his way back and into an NHL lineup for the first time in his career.
Monday, 10:45 am: The deal has now been made official. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong had the following statement about his new center:
We are very pleased to acquire Jack McBain. He is a big, strong, highly-skilled center who had a tremendous season with Boston College. We are thrilled to have him join our organization.
Sunday: The Arizona Coyotes have acquired the rights to prospect center Jack McBain from the Minnesota Wild. They are acquiring the Vancouver Canucks’ 2022 second-round pick from the Coyotes in return, and McBain is expected to sign an entry-level contract with Arizona shortly. The trade was first reported by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. McBain’s name was first entered into the trade deadline conversation by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and has been floating in deadline rumors ever since. McBain had made it clear that he would not be signing in Minnesota, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Wild and GM Bill Guerin were asking for a second-round pick from any interested party in return for McBain’s rights. They have gotten their asking price with this trade, as Arizona cashes in one pick from its impressive stockpile to acquire a player who many believe is ready to step into the NHL as soon as he signs his contract.
For the Wild, this trade represents Guerin being able to take advantage of McBain’s development as a college prospect to recoup some value from his rights. As mentioned above, McBain had communicated to the Wild that he would be signing his entry-level contract elsewhere, and from that point, it became imperative for Guerin to gain something from holding McBain’s rights. In previous trades, such as Zach Hyman to Toronto in 2015, a low-value pick is all the rights-holding team can get in return, given that their leverage is low due to their player’s pending free agency. But more recently, as we saw with Adam Fox’s trade to the New York Rangers in 2019, teams have become more willing to part with valuable assets to acquire the rights to sign an NCAA prospect. So while Guerin and Wild fans may be disappointed that McBain chose not to sign in Minnesota, being able to get a second-round pick in exchange for a prospect’s soon-to-be expired rights is a good bit of business.
This trade is also good business for Arizona and GM Bill Armstrong. The Coyotes have built their team around a bold, scorched-earth plan to stockpile as much long-term value as possible. They have traded significant, in-their-prime, team-controlled players such as Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak, and have also weaponized their enviable amount of cap space to take on other teams’ unwanted contracts for draft pick compensation. The result of their efforts has been a stable of upcoming draft picks larger than any other franchise in the NHL. For the 2022 draft, before this trade, the Coyotes were set to have three first-round picks and five second-round picks. Now, they still have three first-rounders and four second-rounders. Second-round picks are assets that the team currently has an abundance of, but what they are lacking is quality talent at the center position. By trading for him, it is clear that Arizona believes McBain is exactly that, and through this trade, the Coyotes are subtracting from a position of strength to add to a position of pretty severe weakness. The Coyotes’ top four players down the middle are currently Travis Boyd, Riley Nash, Christian Fischer, and Barrett Hayton. Only Boyd is under contract for next season. By acquiring McBain, who had 33 points in 24 games this past season for Boston College, the Coyotes add a high-upside prospect who is ready to step in and bolster their lineup immediately. He might not have the tools to become a do-it-all star first-line center, but regardless of what role he ends up settling into his acquisition by the Coyotes is a shrewd move from Armstrong to help diversify the team’s immediate and long-term outlook down the middle.
It’s not often that a trade can truly please the fanbases of both teams involved, and given McBain’s reluctance to sign in Minnesota there still could be bitterness from that side. But that being said, this looks like a trade where both sides, given their respective situations, seem to come away on top.