The Arizona Coyotes have helped relieve a tight cap situation in New York. They’ve acquired defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the New York Rangers, along with a 2025 second-round pick and conditional 2026 second-round pick, in exchange for Ty Emberson.
From New York’s perspective, the motives behind this move are clear. With the signing of Vincent Trocheck at a $5.625MM cap hit, the Rangers desperately needed to clear cap space in order to have enough room to ink their two important restricted free agents: Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil. Nemeth’s $2.5MM cap hit was a major barrier to their ability to get those deals done, so they’ve decided to pay a pretty hefty price in order to clear his deal off their books. The Rangers have paid the Coyotes a 2025 second-round pick and a 2026 second-rounder (that the Coyotes can choose to make a 2024 third-rounder) in exchange for defenseman Ty Emberson and the Coyotes taking on Nemeth’s deal.
Nemeth never quite worked out in New York, and quickly lost the trust of coach Gerard Gallant, who scratched him for the entirety of the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Final. Nemeth’s defense-first game was more ineffective than it had been in the past, and his envisioned role sheltering fellow Swede Nils Lundqvist never materialized as Lundqvist was quickly passed on the Rangers’ depth chart by Braden Schneider.
In Arizona, Nemeth will have a chance to play in a lower-pressure environment than in New York. As recently as 2021, Nemeth was viewed as valuable enough for a team to part with a mid-round pick to acquire him, so perhaps he can improve his play well enough in Arizona to become a tradeable asset once again, especially if Arizona is willing to retain half of his salary.
For the Coyotes, acquiring Nemeth gives them two valuable draft picks for cap space they were unlikely to use otherwise. GM Bill Armstrong has spoken about his desire to “build” drafts well in advance, adding picks not only for the next two seasons but the drafts in the future, where picks can typically be had for a discounted rate. He adds two second-rounders (or a second-rounder and a third-rounder) here, although he does have to surrender Emberson, who was a top-75 pick at the 2018 draft.
In Emberson, the Rangers are getting a defenseman who just played his first full professional season since signing out of the University of Wisconsin. Emberson played 58 games and scored 11 points. Emberson is a defense-first prospect who got time on both of the AHL Tucson Roadrunners’ special teams units, including a solid amount of time on their penalty kill. The Rangers will likely have Emberson in Hartford next season and will see if he can develop into an NHLer down the line.
Overall, it’s an expensive price for GM Chris Drury to pay for such a recent mistake, and losing two valuable future picks could end up biting the Rangers if they want to be as aggressive at the 2023, 2024, or 2025 trade deadlines as they were this past spring. That being said, even though it’s an expensive price to pay, it’s a move they really needed to make.