Arizona Coyotes: Decisions to be made on impending free agents

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 12: Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in action during a regular season game Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 12: Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in action during a regular season game Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Arizona Coyotes have ten important impending free agents this summer, giving the organisation some interesting decisions to make.

With the Arizona Coyotes firmly in the playoff race, all eyes will be on what moves they make at the trade deadline – but there could be even more difficult decisions to make by the summer.

Rick Tocchet has ten players currently on his roster, or on injured reserve, that are set to become free agents this off-season, with four of those being unrestricted.

With the Coyotes finally trending in the right direction, they could be in for a busy summer – looking to add players that can help them continue on the path they currently find themselves on.

This could mean, however, that some players are let go or traded in order to help the team take the next step towards getting back to playoff relevance on a consistent basis.

So what should they do with all of their impending free agents?


The biggest name on the Arizona Coyotes’ UFA list is Richard Panik, with the Czech winger contributing 19 goals and 43 total points since arriving from the Chicago Blackhawks last season.

The 28-year-old has been quite inconsistent since joining the Coyotes but has still been a valuable contributor in front of the net at times.

Panik appears to be the most logical player that John Chayka looks to move at the trade deadline, offering a contender a veteran goalscoring presence in return for pieces that can help the Coyotes progress in their own way.

Jordan Weal is another interesting free agent for the Arizona Coyotes, having joined the team fairly recently to provide extra depth at centre with so many players suffering injuries.

Weal has done a decent job filling in as a fourth line centre for the Coyotes, averaging just 10:59 since arriving from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Weal isn’t likely to find himself stick around with the team beyond this season, however, with a fully healthy roster also potentially having the likes of Barrett Hayton making the step up – leaving the North Vancouver native effectively surplus to requirements.

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Mario Kempe is another player that could be joining Weal in free agency this summer, with the 30-year-old Swedish centre making just 56 regular season appearances over the past two seasons – regularly filling a spot on the bottom line with only 11:20 on average in ice time.

With 12 total points (five goals, seven assists) in his brief NHL career, Kempe would be fairly easy to replace in the summer and isn’t likely to be kept around unless it’s for another cheap contract, like the one he is currently playing on.

The last UFA that the Arizona Coyotes will need to make a decision on is goaltender Calvin Pickard – who has played sparingly for the club this season.

Pickard is 0-3-0 in his three appearances with the Coyotes, sporting a 3.41 goal against average and a save percentage of just .902.

The Coyotes’ waiver wire acquisition isn’t likely to command a good price at the trade deadline, so it is more than likely that he will remain with the team for the rest of the season – but that could be the end of the road for him.

With Antti Raanta returning next season, Darcy Kuemper a solid backup option and Adin Hill looking like a legitimate NHL player in the near future, Pickard will be the odd man out and will become a free agent without much fanfare this summer.


The Arizona Coyotes’ restricted free agents have a number of players that the team should lock up immediately, with many more of them showing real potential and being key players on the current roster.

Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland should be the first two players that the Arizona Coyotes consider offering contracts to, with both looking exceptionally good in their brief spells with the team.

Schmaltz’ injury was a huge disappointment for the team, having traded Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome for him, and he will be a crucial piece to Tocchet’s team next season.

Garland, meanwhile, has appeared almost out of nowhere with 12 goals and 15 total points in 35 regular season games after taking some time to truly develop his game in juniors and then the minors.

Both of these players are must-signs, no questions asked.

Next, however, comes a player that has been a workhorse for this team but could find himself as the seventh or eighth guy in a stacked blueline next season.

Ilya Lyubushkin has used his 6-foot-2, 201lbs frame to block 54 shots and throw an impressive 126 hits at the time of writing.

He’s averaged 13:47 on the ice and has four assists in 35 regular season appearances. He has been a valuable piece to this team, but next season could be difficult to fit him into the line-up if the Coyotes’ core stays healthy.

He does deserve a new deal, however, and would be a valuable player if he can be fitted into the line-up as needed.

Nick Cousins, Lawson Crouse and Josh Archibald are all bottom-nine guys that will more than likely find themselves offered deals this summer, helping to keep the core of the Coyotes locked up.

The Arizona Coyotes will have around $11.7 million to spend this summer unless deals are made that change their cap situation, and the majority of their free agents should come relatively cheaply.

Locking up most of these guys will benefit the team, but it should not come at the long-term detriment, especially if the team can lure a decent free agent to the desert.

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What do you think Coyotes fans? Which free agents should they part ways with and which do you think should be snapped up immediately? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!