With the trade deadline just over four weeks away, every NHL team is considering what to do to improve themselves.
Should the Arizona Coyotes be included in that group?
Coyotes' President of Hockey Operations/GM John Chayka told the Arizona Republic recently, he's looking to improve his team both short-term and long-term, but doesn't feel the need to wait until the Feb. 25 deadline to make deals.
"I don't think we're really looking to be a deadline team in the sense that we need to make moves at the deadline. Obviously you can't make those type of moves after that, but we're trying to improve our group in both the short term and the long term then we're goin to do that. We're always having discussions and I'm not going to delay those discussions just because there's a deadline in place."
"If we can do something now that improves our group in both ways, I'd definitely be looking to do that."
Pretty standard stuff for any GM to be stating, but what comes into any decision is do they really NEED to make any changes?
Injuries have decimated the team
After it was revealed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson had another one of those deadly lower-body injuries in the game in Ottawa last night, it seems he will not be able to play tonight in Montreal.
"It's tough. You can't replace a guy like Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He's the heartbeat of our team; he's our leader. But I think the five of us (remaining defensemen) on the bench just dug in nad wanted to get this win and get out of here." - Coyotes' defenseman Jordan Oesterle.
So, let's review... no Christian Dvorak, Antti Raanta, Jason Demers, Michael Grabner, Nick Schmaltz, Brad Richardson, and most recently Ekman-Larsson.
Niklas Hjalmarsson also left the game last night due to a facial injury and it's uncertain what his status will be for the game tonight against Max Domi and the Montreal Canadiens.
Will injuries have a decision factor to what Chayka intends to do as far as changes to his roster?
The thing is even if you look optimistically that Dvorak, Grabner and Richardson could be back by near the trade deadline, the team could still use some additional help.
Who could be traded?
According to Richard Morin of The Republic, Richard Panik, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, newly acquired Jordan Weal and defenseman Jordan Oesterle could all be options for Chayka to make some deals to improve the team.
Goligoski, 33, has a $5.475 million cap hit and also possesses a full no-move clause. So, he would need to agree to any deal.
Hjalmarsson, 31, is signed to a $4.1 million pact this season and a $5 million cap hit the next two seasons.
Defensemen are always an attractive trade bait and contending teams looking towards the playoffs could always use another veteran on their blue line.
Panik, 27, is a fairly good offensive performer with nine goals, nine assists in 45 games. Some teams who could have interest in obtaining the winger include the Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, and the Minnesota Wild.
Panik holds a $2.8 million salary cap hit so he could be on the move if the Coyotes got something in return which would help them more than Panik has.
Obviously the Arizona team needs offense
Scoring just 2.67 goals a game ranks them 28th in the NHL and the only way they have been able to be relevant to qualify for the playoffs is due to their defense, goaltending and penalty kill.
They have a 2.86 goals against average which ranks them tied for eighth in the league.
Darcy Kuemper has stepped up recently to lead his team towards their unlikely (due to injuries) surge towards the playoffs. He has evened his record to 11-11-4 with a GAA of 2.63 and a save percentage of .914.
The penalty kill is the BEST in the league with an amazing 87.4 percent success ratio. They also have 12 shorthanded goals, second to the Calgary Flames who have 15 shorties.
So, who can they get to help with their shortcomings?
That is what GM John Chayka will be working on, and he may not wait until near the deadline to do it.
Yet, does he really want to break up the chemistry which has been showing in their last eight games?
That's why he gets the big bucks...
What moves do you feel the Arizona Coyotes should make to improve their team and replace all the injured players?