January 2, 2018 | 11:58am ET
COYOTES OPEN FOR BUSINESS?
Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenceman
As the weeks inch closer to the late-February trade deadline, trade speculation surrounding the Arizona Coyotes will undoubtedly pick up.
While a number of teams are interested in defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes GM John Chayka has said repeatedly that he does not plan on trading the star blueliner.
That likely won’t keep teams from inquiring, though, and the right offer may be enough to persuade Chayka to pull the trigger, as his club currently has the best odds of drafting first-overall in the June 22 NHL Draft.
However, such a trade may actually be better suited for the off-season, around the time of the draft in Dallas.
Aside from Ekman-Larsson, though, the Arizona Republic reports the Coyotes have several other veteran players who could command serious interest.
The paper lists currently-injured defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forwards Brad Richardson and Tobias Rieder as three players the Coyotes could move by the Feb. 26 deadline.
Richardson and Rieder are in the final year of their respective contracts, though Richardson can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, while Rieder can become a restricted free agent.
Hjalmarsson, acquired in the off-season from the Chicago Blackhawks, has one-year left on his deal after this season and comes with a $4.1 million salary cap hit. He does, however, own a 10-team trade list as part of his contract and will have a say in where he ends up, if dealt, again.
While he shoots left, he does spend time playing on the right side, and several teams are looking for just that, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have also been linked to Ekman-Larsson.
The Coyotes have also been shopping forward Anthony Duclair, who is set to become an RFA this summer.
It’s believed the Coyotes prefer to package Duclair in a larger deal for a young, impact player, though a trade is not believed to be imminent.