The Phoenix Coyotes' braintrust could put together a deal to obtain additional scoring that would help the team reach the postseason for the second consecutive season.
For my money, I feel that a number of teams will be in the position to be sellers. A team could help the Coyotes by dealing them a forward who can amass points, in the process dumping salary and contracts that could hamper its own ability to make moves in the offseason.
But if you are Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, you are probably looking for guys who not only can score points, but who also fit into head coach Dave Tippett's style of play. While Tippett would love an Alex Ovechkin—and wouldn't necessarily care what his plus/minus rating is if he scores goals like Ovechkin can do—the Ovechkins of the world are not out there to be had during this shortened season.
Here is a list of five guys the Coyotes could explore bringing in to provide depth and some additional scoring. Cost, potential availability and style of play were the three determining factors in placing these men on the list.
Remember that this list is for this season and does not guarantee that these players will be here after this season. They are listed in order of who would be the biggest and most valuable addition, in the author's opinion.
Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly is a restricted free agent and the Coyotes might have to pony up some serious cash to sign him to an offer sheet.
O'Reilly is a restricted free agent and is the longest shot of the players listed.
He has not come to an agreement with the Colorado Avalanche, and the Coyotes would have to sign him to an offer sheet that Colorado would have a chance to match—which, by all accounts, it would.
O'Reilly played in Russia with the KHL's Magnitogorsk Metallurg during the NHL lockout. When his contract could not be agreed upon with the Avalanche, he stayed in Russia and ended up hurting his ankle. Subsequently, he voided his contract and returned to Denver to seek treatment and rehabilitation. The injury is not believed to be serious.
Colorado and O'Reilly continue to negotiate, and the latest rumors indicate that Colorado has given him two separate offers to consider: two years, $7 million or five years, $17 million. Both are in the range of $3.5 million per year for a 22-year-old center that scored 18 goals and collected 37 assists for 55 points for the Avs last season.
If the Coyotes can dangle one of their NHL-ready defensemen (Michael Stone, David Schlemko, David Rundblad) and a prized prospect/draft picks, maybe they can pry the rights to O'Reilly away from the Avs, especially if the contract negotiations are prolonged and become bitter.
O'Reilly would automatically make the 'Yotes a better team and strengthen the depth of the team down the middle of the ice.
The Florida Panthers' Stephen Weiss could be looking for a new place to play at the trading deadline.
Weiss is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and if Florida finds itself out of the playoff hunt, he could make a tempting target for a Coyotes team that will need to score some goals in the NHL playoffs.
Weiss is a playmaking center who could fit in on any of the first three lines. Antoine Vermette, Martin Hanzal and Weiss would make for a nice trio of centers who could fill up a scoresheet.
The 29-year-old Weiss is coming off of a nice year for Florida in 2012, compiling 20 goals and 37 assists for 57 points and a plus-five rating. His power-play production is another factor that could make him extremely attractive to the Desert Dogs, as special teams play will be of vital importance down the stretch.
In 2013, the 5'9", 191-pound center has one goal and two assists for the Panthers while racking up a minus-five rating in his six games this season.
Brian Stubits of CBSSports.com feels that if Florida is out of the playoff race, Weiss' contract situation could force the franchise's hand and it could deal him before he would leave at the end of the season.
When you consider that his cap number for the season is $3.1 million (CapGeek.com) and that Phoenix would pay his salary on a prorated basis from the time they acquire him for the remainder of the season, it makes sense that the Coyotes might be able to make this happen.
The New York Islanders' Brad Boyes could be a bargain addition to the Coyotes as they look to make a run in the West.
If the Coyotes are looking for a bargain that could potentially turn out to be a huge boost to the offense, they should look no further than the New York Islanders' Brad Boyes.
Boyes was one of the up-and-coming young studs back in 2008-09, when he put up 72 points for the St. Louis Blues. He was viewed as a can't-miss player on the verge of stardom—and then mediocrity hit.
Boyes put up back-to-back years of 42 ('09-'10) and 55 ('10-'11) points, which many felt was a great letdown based on the promise that he had shown. In 2011, he was dealt from St. Louis to Buffalo and posted a 23-point season in 2012 that found him looking for work.
The 30-year-old Boyes signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Islanders for this season and has gotten off to a good start. He has three goals and four assists for seven points in his first 10 games.
A confident Boyes is a guy that the Coyotes should look at acquiring. When the Islanders are out of it, and, yes, it's a when, the 6'0", 195-pound center will be an affordable option for the cash-strapped squad in the desert to pursue.
Calgary Flames forward Lee Stempniak could be a useful addition to help the Coyotes bolster their scoring attack.
A blast from the past, Calgary Flames wing Lee Stempniak could come into the Coyotes' dressing room and fit right back in seamlessly. Stempniak scores goals in bunches when he gets hot and that is what the Desert Dogs need out of a mid-season acquisition.
Stempniak played for the Desert Dogs from 2009-11, amassing 33 goals and 23 assists for 56 points in two solid seasons for Phoenix.
He knows the system that Dave Tippett runs, Calgary will probably be out of the playoff hunt, and he is relatively affordable ($2.5 million a season through next season). Those are the three very important reasons why Stempniak could be a valuable add-on as the season progresses.
This season, he has scored five goals and added two assists for seven points in nine games. Three of those goals came on the power play, where his sniping ability could help the Coyotes on special teams.
He is a minus-20 over his career, but during his time in Phoenix, he showed that he can play defensively responsible hockey, playing at a plus-14 during his time in the desert.
Former Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo could be an interesting addition to the Coyotes at the deadline this season.
Cheechoo is a name that many have forgotten about, since his days as a marksman with the San Jose Sharks are well in the past. The 6'0", 200-pound winger currently plies his trade with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, and his NHL cap hit would only be $600,000 (CapGeek.com).
The 32-year-old Cheechoo is the cautionary tale of a guy who had it all and lost it. He once scored 56 goals in an NHL season and captured the "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer (2005-06). He followed that up with another solid season (37 goals) in 2006-07 before seeing his goal-scoring touch slowly start to vanish. In 2008-09, he scored just 12 goals and was promptly traded to Ottawa, where he only scored five times in 2009-10 before the Senators bought out his contract.
For the last three seasons, he has played in the AHL and last season finally got back to scoring goals (25) for the Peoria Rivermen. This season, he is playing in Oklahoma City with the Barons and is off to good start with them, scoring 12 points in only seven games.
The Coyotes could take a flier on him and hope that they strike gold with the former NHL All-Star.