Arizona Coyotes 2018 draft pick Jan Jeník remains without a contract for next season and is reportedly seeking a trade to continue his career in North America, according to a report from PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan.
The Coyotes issued Jeník a qualifying offer before the June deadline and retained his exclusive signing rights as a restricted free agent, but Morgan says he doesn’t appear close to signing with Arizona. The 22-year-old winger was the Coyotes’ 65th overall pick in 2018 and has three years of pro experience under his belt, mainly with AHL Tucson.
He’s put up strong offensive totals on a weak Roadrunners team over the past two seasons, even finishing second on the team in scoring with 17 goals, 30 assists and 47 points in 51 games during the 2021-22 campaign. After more solid play with 23 points in 30 games for Tucson this season, though, he didn’t receive much of an NHL chance – only two games at the major-league level in 2022-23 and just 17 overall over the past three seasons.
Arizona drafted Jeník directly out of the 1. Liga, Czechia’s second-tier pro league behind the Extraliga and not at all a traditional stomping ground for draft-eligible prospects. It was after the 2018 draft that Jeník established some decent stock as a prospect, coming to North America and scoring 86 points in 54 games across two seasons with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He looked well on his way to solidifying himself as a potential top-five prospect in the organization, but without much of any NHL experience to show for it and a crowded forward corps next season, it makes sense he’s looking for other opportunities.
He may not get the trade he desires anytime soon, though, as Morgan reports the Coyotes “seem content to let Jeník sit,” given he has very little leverage as an RFA. He’s got a few options moving forward if the Coyotes don’t move him – he can sit out and hope the team folds before December 1, the deadline by which he needs to sign to play in the NHL this season; he can sign in Europe; or he can hope another team signs him to an offer sheet which Arizona opts not to match. Teams do not need to send compensation for signing offer sheets worth less than $1.416MM per season.
It doesn’t seem likely a team would issue an offer sheet of any significance, though, as despite his wishes, few believe Jeník is ready for a full-time NHL role as things stand. Arizona will likely match any offer he realistically receives and send him back to Tucson to start next season.