What this means for the Coyotes
This is a home run of a deal for the Arizona Coyotes and new General Manager Bill Armstrong, who has quite the task when it comes to turning this beleaguered franchise around.
However, Armstrong is off to a good start by getting back a much-needed Second Round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft for an aging forward in Derek Stepan who has regressed offensively somewhat over the last two years.
Yes, Stepan was a leader and a well-respected presence in that Coyotes locker room, but they have other players who can fill that leadership void, including Phil Kessel, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The Coyotes will also have to find a replacement for Stepan on the second-line, but the veteran’s departure should just open the doors for Barrett Hayton to take on a much-bigger role with the team and really fulfil his lofty potential.
No, parting ways with Stepan was the right price to pay for the Coyotes in order to start re-stocking an assets pool that has been significantly depleted.
After being found guilty of violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy, the Arizona Coyotes had to forfeit a Second Round pick in 2020 and a 2021 First Round selection, while the franchise also cut all ties with Mitchell Miller, their top pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (111th overall) after the defenseman was revealed to have once bullied a Black classmate, Isaiah Meyers-Crothers, who was also developmentally disabled.
So, by trading an aging center who was in the final year of his six-year, $39,000,000 contract, the Coyotes have recouped a crucial draft pick that can be used to help start bolstering a farm system that lacks any real talented gems or elite game-changers currently.
The other significant part of this deal for Arizona is the fact that they have now cleared some vital cap space.
Although the majority of Stepan’s $6.5 million cap hit in 2020-21 was already paid through a signing bonus, the Coyotes are now back under the flat cap of $81.5 million and have around just over $3 million in cap space according to CapFriendly, a situation that will only get better once Marian Hossa‘s contract is off the books after the 2020-21 season.
So, while there is a hell of a lot of work still to be done by Bill Armstrong, the Arizona Coyotes are all of a sudden in a much better position when it comes to both cap space and draft capital, all because of dealing Derek Stepan to the Ottawa Senators.