It has been widely reported that cost-cutting measures are expected in Arizona as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Accordingly, several veterans have seen their names bandied about in trade speculation in recent weeks. One of those is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and his $5MM price tag. However, the veteran is unwilling to waive his no-move clause, reports Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider (Twitter link) which means he’ll be staying in the desert barring a change of heart.
While the 33-year-old isn’t known for his offensive prowess – the last time he scored multiple goals in a season was 2016-17 – he has been a steadying presence in his own end for most of his career and can still more than hold his own in a checking role. The Coyotes have used Hjalmarsson at times with Oliver Ekman-Larsson to allow the latter to get more involved offensively, a role that other teams could conceivably have tried to fit him into.
However, merely staying in the lineup has been tricky in his three years with the Coyotes as Hjalmarsson has missed considerable time in two of those three seasons including a fractured fibula that cost him 43 games this season. That won’t help his value come next year on the open market but as far as a one-year investment goes, there would have been some interest in him for 2020-21.
Now, Arizona will have to turn their focus to shed payroll on other players. Veterans Derek Stepan, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, and Michael Grabner will each be entering the final year of their contracts next season and could free up some money in the short term while Phil Kessel has two years left with the team on the hook for a $6.8MM price tag. If they are trying to save money, one or more of these players may be on the move before too long.