This is the first trade deadline for Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka and it hasn’t exactly been the most fun. After dealing Michael Stone to the Calgary Flames earlier in the week, the 27-year-old GM sent Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
“Today has not been an easy day,” Chayka said candidly on a conference call with reporters. “It’s kind of miserable, to be honest. And right now I’m just trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
The bad situation is the Coyotes sitting at 29th, and according to Chayka, he has no choice but to continue to prep for the future. That vision continued with the Hanzal and White trade.
The Coyotes sent fourth round pick in 2017 to Minnesota along with Hanzal and White. In return Arizona gets a 2017 first round draft choice, a 2018 second round draft choice and a 2019 conditional fourth round draft choice plus prospect Grayson Downing, who was assigned to the Tucson Roadrunners.
The team is keeping 50-percent of the $3.1-million Hanzal makes. As for the 2019 fourth round conditional pick it’s a little more complicated.
“If [Minnesota] wins a round this year, this year’s playoffs, it’s a third [round pick in 2019],” said Chayka. “If they win two rounds it becomes a second [round pick in 2019].
“The complexity of it a little bit is [Hanzal] has to play 50-percent or greater of the games in the round that they win. So, if he doesn’t play 50-percent or greater it doesn’t count. If he does it, it doesn’t really matter what round it’s in it just improves the pick by one round.”
As Wysh asked earlier, did the Wild overpay to get Hanzal? From Chayka’s point of view, Minnesota was ready and willing to give up a lot more in picks than current players or prospects.
“Minnesota was a unique team to deal with. They have a great team that they’re trying to win a Cup with,” said Chayka. “They don’t want to take anyone off their roster. They also have a great group of young prospects.
“They were willing to pay a bit of an excess in terms of a picks side of things … We just felt that the tradeoff at the end of the day … with the picks, with the expansion draft this summer, with future drafts coming up and kind of projecting our roster out that we felt that this was the best deal for our club.
“It’s all about alternatives: to have preferences and when you get down to the deals you make a decision. My decision was that this was the best value for our organization now and into the future. I think there’s some events that allow us to turn these picks into players eventually, and our amateur staff has done a phenomenal job. I’m putting my eggs in their basket.”
Stockpiling picks is something we see a lot of when there is a particularly deep draft class coming up. That’s not how Chayka sees it though.
“I don’t buy it in terms of a ‘weak draft.,’ said Chayka. “In fact, I think’ weak draft’ means less consensus. I think it means maybe less star power or perceived star power at the top of the draft board.
“At the same time, even in these drafts where you go back and look historically where there are perceived to be poor drafts there’s always players that play; there’s quite a few players that play. Like I said, this move for … my amateur staff to continue to accrue high end players … our [amateur scouts] will find the good players regardless of the perceived strength of the draft.”
He also expanded on his reason for adding the conditional draft pick that gives a fascinating look into his thought process.
“Conditions [on draft picks] are put in place to share risk,” said Chayka. “We’re looking to maximize our return.
“We believe strongly that with Martin [on the team], Minnesota has a chance to do some things that could be pretty special and we want to share in some of that upside. So we share in the risk, we share in the upside. And I think it’s a creative way to bridge the gap and get a deal done. Chuck [Fletcher] was willing to find a way to make that work, and it was a good part of the deal for us.”
Congratulations Wild fans! John Chayka just jumped on the bandwagon to cheer on the success of the team.
With Hanzal off the books, the focus naturally turns to Coyotes captain Shane Doan.
In an intermission interview during Sunday’s game, Doan expressed what appeared to be confusion about the decision to trade Hanzal:
“Well, it’s really hard. Obviously he’s a huge part of our team and someone that you get to play with for 10 years and you appreciate and you understand how valuable and how … um you can’t really replace him and the fact that we just continue to uh … seem to go … I don’t know. It’s hard to understand exactly, I mean you understand people’s hands are tied and you just don’t get it,” Doan said.
When posed the question on Doan’s comments Chayka said, “I think less confusion, more frustration, and I share that with Shane. It’s a miserable feeling to be a seller at the deadline. It’s something I never want to to do again as a manager. Not fun. It’s not enjoyable.
“I love Martin Hanzal being an Arizona Coyote. I love what he brings to the table. I love everything he does. He’s a big six-foot-six centerman, but at the same time he’s a 30-year-old pending UFA.
“We have a good, young nucleus we’re trying to build here. I felt I did the right thing for the organization to move a player for future assets and move forward through this summer. I think Shane’s response is one of frustration that I share with him. I think I did the right thing and that’s all I can do.”
This could only lead to one final question: will Chayka move Doan before the 3:00 p.m. EST deadline on Wednesday?
“[Doan’s] got a full no movement clause,” said Chayka. “I’ve had discussions with Shane. He’s suggested to me he signed here to be a Coyote, he’s only ever played here, that’s where he wants to finish his career.
“Having said that, would I guess that and have we talked about (a trade)? You know, there’s some bits and thoughts towards what would a better opportunity look like with his last year, the potential last year of his career, to take a run at a Stanley Cup. I think that’s natural for him to have some of those thoughts. He hasn’t come to me and said: ‘Look I want to pursue other opportunities.’ And that’s where we’re at today.
Maybe it’s a Freudian slip, but Chayka corrects himself somewhat after saying it’s Doan’s ‘last year.’
It should be noted earlier in the interview, Chayka laughed while admitting – albeit on a separate topic – that ‘sometimes I’m not always the most truthful in my discussions with the media’ because everyone (i.e. other GMs) read his quotes.
(Bend the truth when talking to reporters? WHAAA??)
One thing we know for sure: Doan had not yet asked for a trade following his intermission comments because Chayka was on the call while the Coyotes were still playing.
Chayka was coy about being done making moves.
“I’ve only got a few days here. I’m open to adding, subtracting, lateral moves whatever it takes to make our team better and continue to grow.”