Don Maloney made a slight splash on July 1st to push themselves closer to the cap floor. Not counting re-signing Dylan Reese and Craig Cunningham, the Coyotes added five shiny, new hockey players.
Maloney started off almost right at noon with signing Brad Richardson, formerly with Vancouver Canucks. Not too long after there was talk of Steve Downie, Pittsburgh Penguins, signing with the Coyotes. Maloney also signed a backup goalie in Anders Lindback, Buffalo Sabres.
Finally, the big news, which was expected, Zbynek Michalek was back. At this point Maloney made it seem like he was done for the day and was planning to make some trades to get additional players.
But wait… later in the day it was announced the Antoine Vermette was indeed a Coyote again.
Richardson, a forward, was signed from a recommendation from new Assistant GM John Chayka. Richardson was signed to a 3 year contract worth $6,249,999 (per ESPN). Last season with Vancouver he had 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 45 games. My initial reaction may have been, WTF but I am trying to keep an open mind. Richardson will most likely be a bottom six player but his advanced stats must speak to Chayka. I will try to reserve judgement until I see how this signing unfolds.
Downie (right wing), a player most people hate, will add the needed toughness that the Coyotes were missing last season. BJ Crombeen was supposed to be the muscle but he did not seem very interested in that role. Thankfully, Downie is only signed to a one year deal. ESPN tracker did not include a dollar figure for him. Last season, Downie had 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points in 72 games. The biggest concern here is can Downie protect players like Domi and remain disciplined? We don’t need our muscle to be suspended. He ended last season with 238 penalty minutes, the most in the league. I guess you have to be good at something…
Lindback seems to be a questionable choice for a goalie, especially since Sean “Goalie Whisperer” Burke is moving on to bigger and better things. I saw a few Coyotes fans think the Lindbeck signing meant the tank was on, much like when he was traded to Buffalo. In 2014-2015, he played 26 games, won six, lost 16 and had two overtime losses. Lindback’s goals against was 73 with a 3.11 goals against average. His save percentage was .909. Lindback was starting to improve towards the end of the season in Buffalo. He will be another wait and see player. The good news is that Lindback is only signed for 1 year with a cap hit of $875,000. If he sucks, we don’t resign him or ship him at the deadline and bring up Domingue.
Michalek, a fan favorite, came back for his millionth time with the Coyotes. He is like a boomerang, he keeps leaving but finds his way back. I think all sides are ok with this. Z knew why he was traded and wanted to come back. Maloney would not have resigned him if he didn’t want Z back. Everyone is happy. Z will provide the much-needed shot blocking. With both Z and Boyd Gordon back (yay!), our goalies should see much fewer shots. Z is signed to a two-year deal and the value is unknown. We need to give him extra padding to make sure he stays injury free and plays every game. We need his stability on the blue line. Z will also be a good influence on the younger guys. He is hardworking and leaves everything on the ice. I think I speak for all Coyotes fans when I say welcome home Z!
And lastly, Vermette came back after winning the Cup with Chicago. He signed for two years and $3,750,000 (ESPN). He also got the NMC that Maloney does not like to give out. I guess he really wants to be here too. Vermette had 13 goals and 25 assists last season for 38 points in 82 games. But where he really shined was the final two rounds of the playoffs where he netted three game winning goals for the Blackhawks. The Coyotes have also increased their chances in the faceoff circles between Vermette, Gordon and Hanzal (if he stays healthy). I feel like we have three of the best faceoff masters in the league. I am glad to see Vermette back on the team; he has quite a few positives and can fill a top center role on the Coyotes.
Hockey in the desert must not be too bad if players keep wanting to come back. Most also ask for NMC or NTC, which indicates that they must like something about Arizona. Hopefully the recent signings and bringing in the young guns will need to a Cup in a few years. We deserve it after all we have been through.
Through signings the Coyotes have added approximately $12,749,999 in cap hit. Free agency wasn’t as big of a splash as some fans wanted but between the Coyotes talk and the weaker free agency I didn’t expect a ton. I wanted a top line center and am happy to see Vermette back to fill that role (for now).
A quick glance at the Coyotes roster and this is where we are sitting. Defense looks pretty set if we are rolling with 7. I would expect Gormley is trade bait, otherwise he and Grossman will most likely rotate in and out of the press box. We have five centers and are pretty set there. Vitale and Chipchura would probably take turns on the fourth line unless one is traded. Right wing is sitting at four, but we need to fill in some gaps on the left wing. Some of which will most likely be filled by Domi and Duclair. Even with Domi and Duclair there is still a vacancy at left wing. I would think a possible trade may be in order.
Per the Coyotes website (which did not include Vermette but I figure he will stick with center)
Maybe in a later post I can play with what lines might look like. I think this article is plenty long and I thank you if you made it to the end!