‘Yotes Notes: Free Agency

Arizona Coyotes will address their free agency needs this Wednesday (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Arizona Coyotes will address their free agency needs this Wednesday (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Happy Tuesday Coyotes fans! This week’s ‘Yotes Notes focuses on free agency and where the team should focus their efforts (and money) as one of the most exciting days on the hockey calendar kicks off Wednesday July 13, at noon ET.

This past season was the first time the team was honest with the fans about the direction that the team needed to head in. As painful as it was to watch names like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, and every rostered goalie leave town while the team “foolishly” picked up the bad contracts of other team’s aging vets, the team quietly stockpiled draft picks in hopes of hitting it out of the park on future prospects.

To the casual Coyotes fan, or hockey fan from the outside looking in, this seems like business as usual in the desert.

The reality is, the team has been searching for an identity since they arrived in Glendale.

From being owned by the NHL to being passed around from one owner to the next, the team has finally found an ownership group that represents the demographics of the Valley, but also has an honest interest in keeping the team in Arizona. Vegas has proved that Hockey can be successful in the desert if the team puts a good product on the ice.

To the outsider this team looked like a mess on paper. Shades of the movie Major League. Aside from Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Jakob Chychrun, the team rostered a collection of has-beens, no names, and up-and-coming talent. Sadly, the season did not end with the team defying all odds and winning their division. Actually, they did not even come close.

They came in dead last in the Western Conference.

What they did do was unearth some super stars and a nucleus to build a winning team around. Some unexpected successes give this team excitement moving forward. The development of Keller and Schmaltz into legitimate super stars, and the rise of goalie Karel Vejmelka, and defenseman Dysin Mayo into roster studs have this team closer to being a playoff team than perennial bottom feeders.

This time tomorrow many teams should be in the middle of bidding wars for the services of some of the NHL’s elite talent. As a hockey fan, it is fun seeing players chase money and rosters changing.

Many of these players are about to get paid.

The top free agents that should draw the most interest include Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg, Patrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin, and former Coyote goalie Darcy Kuemper.

I hate to burst our collective bubble, but the Coyotes are probably not going to be pursuing any of the aforementioned names, in spite of the fact that the team is loaded with cap space. With the NHL salary cap floor sitting at $61,000,000 (the amount a team must spend on their active roster) and the team’s current total cap $54,381,042, the team must spend money to meet the cap floor (currently sitting at $6,618,958 below the cap floor and about $28 million below the cap ceiling).

How much will they spend is up in the air. I guarantee you this- the team will not come close to the cap ceiling.

Finishing dead last in the Western Conference means that the team has holes at pretty much every position on the roster. Lets take a look at a few (realistic) free agents that the Coyotes should reach out to, that could have a sizable impact on the team next season.