• Vintage Hockey League
  • Day 112Game 662
    COYOTES4
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s19 - Offseason Primer [WB1]

2021-07-28

Glendale, AZ - As the rest of the league prepares for tomorrow night’s entry draft, the Phoenix Coyotes by way of having ZERO picks will continue to scour the free agent list in hopes of narrowing down potential targets for Saturday morning’s kick off to free agency.

That being said, early indications are that the Yotes aren’t expected to be big players in the open market.  Paired with the slight increase to the salary cap, Phoenix is estimated to have roughly $12-million in available cap space should they decide to spend. 

As it stands, it appears as though the backup goaltender position along with a seventh defender spot are open for in-camp battles.  Some throughout the organization feel as though sophomore Semyon Varlamov has the mental make-up and skill to handle the 18-20 starts required to be Roberto Luongo’s back up.  Varlamov, 20, looked sharp in his debut last season, but one game is a lot different than 20.  Conversely, Pascal Leclaire has pro experience- albeit only 21 starts – and at 26-years-old expectedly has a little more maturity to his game with 147 AHL starts to his name.   

To date, Phoenix has a total of five pro-ready defenders in Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Kevin Bieksa, Jeff Finger and Shane Hnidy.  It’s expected that if the Coyotes go for anything of substance in the free agent market, it’ll be for a bonafide blueliner to round out their top-4.

Opportunities Abound

With the threat of the supplemental draft weighing heavily on the mind of GM Chris Baker, it appears as though the club will look to fill vacancies in the roster via “in-house” promotions rather than over-spending in the circus that is free agency.  Listed below are Scottsdale Hatters graduates expected to get regular shifts with the Coyotes this season.

Kyle Wellwood, 27 – Close to a point per game player in the AHL, Wellwood looks to make good on an exceptional opportunity to be the club’s new 2nd-line centerman.  Being the final cut last season after an impressive eight points in four preseason games, he’ll be given a lot more rope this time around.

Dustin Penner, 26 – Age and skill makes him an attractive piece for any bottom feeder looking to snag a serviceable player at a reasonable ticket signed long-term.  It’s because of this that he’ll likely see time on the bottom-6 with the big club.

David Moss, 27 – Having played close to 400 AHL games, Moss has bided his time for an opportunity to present itself.  Look for him to be another 1/3 of the Yotes new-look 4th line with Penner and veteran Kris Draper.

Brian Sutherby, 26 – Depth piece expected to facilitate a 4th-line role.

Paul Gaustad, 26 – Depth piece expected to facilitate a 4th-line role along with limited time on the penalty-kill