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Coyotes might let their UFAs walk, Vrbata included

Jun 28, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes could be a different-looking team beyond their name change in the 2014-15 season.

After two straight seasons missing the postseason, it sounds like the team is willing to allow most – if not all – of their unrestricted free agents to walk. That much was made clear by reporters including the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan.

It’s not too surprising to ponder the former-Phoenix-Coyotes letting David Moss, Paul Bissonnette and Jeff Halpern go. The most noteworthy potential losses would be forward Radim Vrbata, defenseman Derek Morris and goalie Thomas Greiss.

Morris and Greiss might be as good as gone. McLellan reports that Greiss, 28, is drawing considerable interest from around the NHL.

Vrbata might be the most interesting factor of them all. Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan reports that the 33-year-old could possibly return, although he might also price himself out of Arizona.

Vrbata scored 20 goals and 51 points with the ‘Yotes last season. A relatively weak free agent market could indeed make the underrated winger overpaid just like that, but there’s also the notion that his best work comes in the desert.

(For more on Vrbata’s value, consider this from Morgan.)

Aside from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mike Smith, there aren’t many Coyotes locked up beyond the 2015-16 season. It seems like the franchise is valuing flexibility over certainty when it comes to contracts, which could mean some key departures come July.

  1. lowenni - Jun 28, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    If I were them I would try and resign Vrbata, even if the price is a little hefty, as opposed to making runs at big free agents. It’s just not a very attractive place to play yet and I don’t see Vanek, Stastny, or Moulson wanting to sign there. Vrbata has been playing on very affordable contracts the past few seasons for them so it’s fair for him to ask for a raise. Pay him for another season or two and then see what happens. With Ribeiro bought out and all those other UFA’s walking they have the cap space, and unless there’s some big trade in the works, no one is going to replace his production.

  2. i1theinternet - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    there’s an NHL team in Arizona? still?!!

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:34 AM

      It’s been there longer than it was in Winnipeg. Get over it.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:01 AM

        OK, let’s do the math. Starting in 1972, the Jets spent 24 seasons in Winnipeg, and have spent 17 seasons in Phoenix. Oh, I’m not one of those thinking they are about to leave anytime soon. Like you say, I’m over it, but I see no reason to exaggerate. Perhaps you are only looking at their NHL years, but their fans loved them from when they were born.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        OK, let’s do some math. by the way, we’re talking about NHL teams not WHA teams, So, the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 were in the NHL from 79 to 96, 17 years. They’ve been in Arizona from 96 to present. 18 years.

        18 > 17

    • 2dimesandanickelback - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:56 AM

      Yeah, and despite there being only a handful of rinks in the state their fans, although limited, are still more die hard than half the teams in the league. There is no such thing as a bandwagon yotes fan, and the games are fun to attend in the desert. This all coming from someone who is a misplaced fan of another team…

    • holeecowman - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      yup they have been there longer than the penguins fan base which was established 2005.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        No, Cow, I distinctly remember the Pens not only having quite a few fans when they first hit the ice in 1967, but even more when they won consecutive Stanley Cups almost 25 years ago. And FWIW, many Pens fans have seen them win as many Cups as the Kings, Ducks, Panthers, Sharks, Canucks, Senators, Capitals and Blues combined.

  3. luz56 - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    New owners are doing their best to make it work….2016 we will know if it’s going to be QC, Kitchener or Seattle.. Would like to see it work but there’s now corporate support here… Everything going to the other big three sports

    • desertfan - Jun 29, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      Anywhere but the Communist State of QC.

  4. 34defense2014 - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    It’s a shame they might move! The other 3 Sports are boring compared to Hockey!! I love the NFL! But one game to become Campions? I respect Basketball and my Son loves it! To much scoring and not physical enough!! Baseball is just to slow and boring!! Man throws ball, man hits ball with stick, man catches ball?! Ugh!! At least in the NHL you can Hit, fight, pass, shoot, score, fast skating, and occasionally a hard hit? Though Checking is a dying art form these days!! The new rules are making the NHL soft as well! At least every once in a while you do see a nice clean hard hit!! Also as much as I love Football!! The rules are making that Sport soft too!! Can’t hit the QB? Can’t hit Wideouts? At this rate why bother rushing the passer or playing Corner? Give me back 90’s Hockey! 80’s and 90’s Football please!!!

  5. phxyotes - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    The only way they stay in AZ is if they put a competitive team on the ice. AZ is a notorious bandwagon state. If the team sucks the seats will be empty. Took the Cardinals 20 years to figure this out, now they sell out every game.

    • smaktalker - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:38 AM

      Thats partially true, but isn’t every team like that ? People are not going to pay good money to watch their team loe game after game. Eventually Maloney will be gone. I know everyone touts him as one of the best GM’s. But even with all the turmail he could have done better in getting players .All he has ever went after wee 3rd and 4th line player sand has beens. Hopefully now that he has some $ he can get actual players to play here. Despite what people say about the team it really depends on what you spend. Look at NY Isles and Edmonton. Both those two teams are perennial losers but cause thay have $ they still get better players

      • phxyotes - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        I dunno man the Cubs have sucked as long as I’ve been alive and some how they still sellout games.

  6. phx7355 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    I sure hope the Coyotes can afford re-signing Vrbata. With Ribeiro now gone (and rightfully so) it would be tough to lose the production of another skilled forward, which is definitely in short supply here in Phoenix.

  7. fiddytucker - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    i1theinternet | Jun 28, 2014, 8:15 PM MST
    there’s an NHL team in Arizona? still?!!

    Way to add intelligent remarks and not trolling garbage………. Oh wait a minute….

  8. rushledger - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:30 AM

    Wow nothing stops the internet trolls who “know” the teams moving in 2016. Stupidity at its finest.

    Anyways the should start letting some of their young guns get a chance at the NHL level they’ve drafter well for a while hoping to see Domi and Samuelson make the team this season.

  9. luz56 - Jun 29, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Rushledger….. Internet troll ??? Once you get a better understanding of what is happening in the desert you’ll understand 2016 …team is bleeding money. Even after a good year to which YES I go to many games the arena wasn’t full most nights… Tickets can be had for as little as 40.00 for a great seat …There is NO corporate support for hockey!!! The team owners are not flush with cash with the NHL and the COG floating cash to purchase and operating funds …

  10. booman4404 - Jun 29, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    The Coyotes need to let all their crap free agents go.I’m sorry but Vrbata is washed up and 51 points is nothing when your leading scorer was Yandle a defenseman with 53.The other 5 free agents need no mention because they suck.Stop all the ridiculous Yandle trade talk!!!Why to create another hole by getting rid of your best player ????The Coyotes should use their 2 compliance buyouts under the old CBA on Erat and Doan.Yes I said Doan….He is washed up turnover prone and not worth 5.5 million a year.Now you just freed up 10 million $ and it costs you nothing against the cap by getting rid off the piece of garbage Erat and the grossly overpaid and under performing Doan.I dont care if he is a fan favorite its a smart business decision.You can’t be stagnant and think fans are going to pay and watch 4 checking lines.Sorry I’m not driving 55 minutes from the East Valley and use my hard earned money on gas ,tickets ,food and drinks to watch that crap.If that’s the route the new ownership wants to keep trying to sell us on with bums like Bissonette,Klinkhammer,Schlemko,Halpern,Korpokoski,Moss, and so on the new ownership already has their bags packed for Quebec in 2019.Time to be bold make some trades like Radko Gudas from Tampa a young defenseman who will hit you in the mouth.In Cole from the Blues another good young defenseman who will do the same.Quit relying on chumps like Stone,Summers and Schlemko.Make offers to some restricted free agents on other teams and force that teams hand like say the Rangers and Derek Stepan and Chris Kreide I’m pretty sure its just draft pick compensation..Sign a Brian Boyle to center your third line but you can use him in crucial situations like penalty kill or defensive zone face offs like Vermette and he is a big physical presence 6-7. 240 I believe.Sign Daniel Winnik a gritty forward who will chip in with some goals not just dump and chase and turn the puck over.Sign Chad Johnson as your backup goalie that you let get away in the first place and should of signed him for cheap instead of the money you gave the injury prone self centered soft goal giving up Mike Smith.Johnson stats this past year 17-4 /2.18 goals against and a .922 save percentage.Make a play for Matt Moulson since the Wild are going to make a run at Vanek.Sign Zybineks brother from Ottawa.Kick the tires on Statsny just to see what he is asking and if he over prices himself move on.Now bring up Domi and Samuelsson and you have an exciting team worth watching and will put fans in the seats and actually make free agents want to come to Arizona to play.I would pay to watch that team.The nay sayers can make their jokes and say this is not a video game and I’m living in fantasy land but I’ll just say remember when the Coyotes added Roenick,,Ronning,Lumme,Gartner,Carney to Tkachuk,Numminen,Drake,Habibulin,Tverdosky oh and called up Doan and Isbister.Yeah that was an exciting team to watch that put the fans in the seats and the Coyotes in the playoffs.

    • phxyotes - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Don’t agree with everything you said, but that was a great and insightful post on the state of the Coyotes.

    • 19to77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      Dude, you just hurled half the roster under the bus, then suggested the solution was to throw offer sheets at RFAs (there’s a reason nobody actually does this) and sign a bunch of grinders that are basically identical. Daniel Winnik? Brian Boyle? You just said “Switch the current batch of 20-25ish point grinders out for some different ones and hope RFA trolling actually works.” Seriously, the roster at the end of your suggested modifications isn’t all that different from the one they have now.

      Also, a team so starved for scoring that their top point-getter notched 53 points is a team that probably shouldn’t be letting their highest-scoring forward walk for absolutely nothing.

  11. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    I expect Greiss to land on a team like Calgary to compete with Ramo. Greiss has shown to have starter potential he’s just been stuck behind bigger names. Let he and Ramo split duties (until Jon Gillies is ready) and the Flames are a better team.

    As for Vrbata, he’s no longer a 30+ goal guy, but put him on a 2nd line with a better supporting cast and he can give you 20-30. In an ideal world he’d be worth about $3-3.5 million; in todays NHL he’ll get between 3.7 and 4.5 IMO.

  12. rupp246 - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    I need to catch my breath just reading that! Glad I’m a Ranger fan.

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