Plummeting down the standings and likely to be a seller leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, Arizona kicked off what could be a youth movement by recalling Henrik Samuelsson from AHL Portland on Wednesday.
Samuelsson, 21, was the club’s first-round pick (27th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He’s scored 10 goals and 25 points in 50 games with the Pirates this season — his first in the AHL — this coming after a stellar junior career in which he led WHL Edmonton to a Memorial Cup.
Samuelsson will join a Coyotes’ forward group that already includes two 22-year-olds in Lucas Lessio and Tobias Rieder. On defense, Arizona is currently carrying the likes of 21-year-old Connor Murphy and two 23-year-olds in Brandon Gormley and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
In late January, Coyotes GM Don Maloney said the club might also give 19-year-old Max Domi — the team’s first-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — his big-league debut this season, once he was done playing with OHL London.
All of this points to the likelihood of an Antoine Vermette trade happening in the not-too-distant future. Other vets like Martin Erat, Zbynek Michalek, David Moss and Keith Yandle could also be on the move.
The Arizona Coyotes are experiencing leadership problems this season — just ask them.
Or, read the following quotes from AZCentral:
“Our inconsistency has probably been the most glaring weakness and that pretty much falls directly on us leaders in the room.” — Shane Doan
“I think the leadership has obviously got to step up — that’s the guys we count on every night and that’s the guys we need to step up right now because it’s a bad situation.” — Martin Hanzal
“(The veterans) have to do their job. They can’t just be a nice guy off the ice. They have to actually do the job and be respected on the ice.” — Dave Tippett
It’s clear something’s been wrong in Arizona through the first half of the season (and you could replace “something” with “lots of things.”) Mike Smith has been a nightmare in goal, the players have seemingly abandoned Tippett’s defensive approach and GM Don Maloney’s already played his shake-it-up card when, in the hours following an ugly loss to L.A. in December, he waived Kyle Chipchura, traded Rob Klinkhammer and sent David Schlemko to the minors.
But those were all peripheral moves that affected fringe guys, not core ones. With these recent quotes about leadership issues and underachieving veterans, you have to wonder what’s next.
Antoine Vermette, as we’ve documented thoroughly, could be on the move. Keith Yandle has been on the block for ages and could be again as we draw closer to the March trade deadline, and the Coyotes went out of their way to address Doan rumors via Twitter last week (which many saw as a “you doth protest too much” moment.)
Other veterans could be on the block as well. Martin Erat, David Moss and Zbynek Michalek are all on the wrong side of 30 and UFAs at season’s end; next year, Doan and Yandle are up. With Arizona sitting 13th in the Western Conference and primed to miss the playoffs for a third straight year, the question has to be asked: Is now the time to break up the core?
Following the Coyotes 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, GM Don Maloney went into the Arizona dressing room, which he rarely does post-game, to have conversation with his players.
According to hockey insider Bob McKenzie, Maloney threatened his players, who currently have limited no-trade clauses, and told them he would seek trades.
Maloney then followed up with the player’s agents seeking a list of teams they would be willing to waive their no-trade clause for.
Players who have reportedly garnered interest from other teams include Keith Yandle, Antoine Vermette, Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal.
Per CapGkeek, players with some form of a no-trade clause in their contract include David Moss, Martin Erat, Zbynek Michalek and Mike Smith.
At that point in the schedule, Arizona had won just one of six games. The Coyotes split a recent trip to Alberta winning in Edmonton and then losing again to the Flames.
Arizona plays host to the L.A. Kings tonight.