Arizona Coyotes – Believe it or not, ARZ is not that far away from being a contender in the west. The addition of players such as Domi and Duclair (what a trade for ARZ) and the outstanding play of OE Larsson give this team a reasonable core lead by a one of a kind defenseman. Most of their worst AB players are in fact free agents this off season so ARZ has another opportunity to rid themselves of players like Antoine Vermette (for good this time, -16.42 AB, among the worst in the NHL and they actually got this guy back?), as well as their not-ready-for-prime-time defensemen like Stone and Dahlbeck (who together cost the Yotes 28 goals this year). To put this in perspective, if these abysmally low AB players are replaced by net zero players, ARZ would have made the playoffs and may have won a series according to our metric. Even two more home dates in Arizona would have been helpful at providing at least some relief to one of the NHLs least profitable franchises.
Update – 6/17/16 – We see that ARZ has traded a fifth round pick to Dallas so that it can negotiate a contract with defenseman Alex Goligoski. On the surface, Goligoski appears to be a major improvement over most of the ARZ blue line. However, when we drill down through his numbers, he performed reasonably well…..on Dallas (a decent mistake minimizing team) as to what he would have on ARZ…..and when that performance is adjusted for his massive 23+ minute time on ice, his AB numbers approximate what ARZ already has. At best, his signing would improve ARZ by seven goals (roughly 7 points in the standings).
We recognize ARZ has a whopping 18mm remaining until it gets to the salary floor, much less the cap (and Shane Doan’s $4.5mm salary may be saved due to his UFA status). Signing Goligoski would erode about $5-6mm of that for the next few years (never mind that players over 30 begin to decline in production at age 29 generally). Are 7 points in the standings (which would have given ARZ 85 for the year, and thus two points from the last playoff spot) worth $6mm? Maybe.
However, since ARZ only has 2 (!!) D men under contract right now, they have to fill the positions and the salary floor situation somehow. Since Goligoski is among the “best” free agent defensemen available this off-season, the move makes “sense.” A positive possible scenario for ARZ would be a defense corp of OEL, Connauton, Michalek and Murphy. Throw Goligoski in the mix and add three replacement mistake minimizers for Dahlbeck, Stone and Grossman) and all of a sudden ARZ resembles a playoff contender. Throw in the loss of Doan and ARZ can enviably bolster their team through subtraction as much as it can by adding players like Goligoski.