The Coyotes are expected to be buyers this summer, looking to add pieces that might be around for a few years. They’ve found one of those players as they have acquired defenseman Sean Durzi from the Kings. Los Angeles receives a 2024 second-round pick (Montreal’s) in return. Arizona GM Bill Armstrong released the following statement about the move:
Sean is a reliable two-way defenseman who has good vision and contributes offensively. He will be a very good addition to our blue line and we look forward to having him on our roster this season.
The 24-year-old had a strong sophomore season in 2022-23, picking up nine goals and 29 assists in 72 games for the Kings while logging just shy of 20 minutes a night. That was good enough to finish second on Los Angeles in scoring by a defenseman behind only Drew Doughty. His production, however, dipped in their opening-round loss to Edmonton as he scored just once while seeing his ATOI drop by nearly four minutes.
Durzi has one year left on his contract with a more than reasonable $1.7MM AAV. On top of that, he has two more seasons of team control after next year, meaning that he will be under Arizona’s control through the 2025-26 campaign. He will immediately become the Coyotes’ top-paid blueliner, a sign of how much change their back end has undergone recently. A right-shot defender, Durzi could be counted on to play on Arizona’s top pairing next season, depending on what else they accomplish in the coming weeks. That should give him a chance to have a bigger role offensively which could set him up quite nicely for a significant raise on his current contract. Getting a player in that role for a future second-rounder is certainly a nice piece of business for Armstrong, especially since they still have eight second-rounders over the next three drafts. Even after the move, Arizona has some work to do to get to the cap floor let alone coming anywhere close to next year’s projected Upper Limit of $83.5MM.
As for the Kings, GM Rob Blake is dealing from a strong spot as Los Angeles has some promising offensive blueliners in their system. Jordan Spence had a dominant year at AHL Ontario with 45 points in 56 games and could be ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL. Meanwhile, Brandt Clarke, who spent the first few months of this past season with the Kings, finished up strong with OHL Barrie and could push for a full-time role in 2023-24. Both players are on entry-level contracts at about half of Durzi’s cost, meaning the move not only lands them what projects to be a decent second-rounder a year from now but also frees up some cap flexibility. With the swap, they now have a little over $9MM in cap space, per CapFriendly, with at least four roster spots to fill including a starting goaltender.
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