The Arizona Coyotes placed David Schlemko on waivers Friday
Well… there’s that roster move we were all looking for.
As someone who’s been trying to follow the league as a whole (and figure out what teams would be willing to offer up something pretty for a piece of the Coyotes), this isn’t the biggest shock that fans could have received.
Never my favorite member of the Coyotes, I liked David Schlemko on the penalty kill this pre-season when he was paired with Michael Stone; the game last night showed that clearly that success couldn’t translate to regular season games against full NHL rosters, and the 27-year-old blue liner is probably headed elsewhere.
Trade talks really popped up when the Coyotes recalled Brandon Gormley from the Portland Pirates, since he and Connor Murphy were the only two blue liners who were still on two-way contracts. Everyone thought that Zbynek Michalek would be the one to go- but despite his play Thursday night against the Calgary Flames strongly fueling that theory, it looks like the team has ultimately decided that the rate of return isn’t worth it, and chose to get rid of a bottom-pairing guy instead.
As someone who mildly enjoys watching Chris Summers play and definitely wants to see Brandon Gormley do big things, I don’t mind this. The team would have been stuck between a rock and a hard place had they opted to move Michalek (which they still could, but don’t expect it in the immediate future); Michael Stone will be able to take his place alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson soon enough, but there’s still time to see that happen later in the season or next year.
Of course, with Schlemko headed down to the minors, what will this mean for the team?
He’s not a very high-return yielding player, but it’s possible that a team with zero defensive depth could look to pick him up. He could also get snagged by a team with little cap space in the event that they have to do a salary dump — he’s got NHL experience (if somewhat limited), and he could make a nice bottom-pairing guy for a team that can’t afford anyone better or pricier.
Some things to consider when looking at Schlemko:
- his contract expires at the end of this season, so he could be a nice low-risk pickup for a team that still needs to shed more salary (but doesn’t have a whole lot to work with in the meantime). The Los Angeles Kings are the first team that comes to mind for me, with Slava Voynov still suspended.
- he could stay on the Portland Pirates, which would give the Coyotes an extra skater for the remainder of the season.
- As a pending UFA, his waiver status makes it pretty clear that the Coyotes won’t be re-signing him next year. If this doesn’t put some pep in Brandon Gormley’s step (aka, if his performance doesn’t improve), expect Gormley to be moved as well. It’s entirely likely that the Coyotes see some significant roster changes either mid-season or next summer.
Bonus Thoughts: apparently, Toronto Maple Leafs fan want Schlemko. Well then.
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