Soderberg had a career-high with 23 goals in 2018-19. That would be his first 20-goal season of his career and he turns 34 in October. His cap hit for 2019-20 is $4.75M and then he’ll be a free agent while Connauton has one more year at $1.375M until he also hits free agency.
What Colorado gets
More than anything, this has to be seen as a move to clear cap space. Now, they didn’t really need to clear cap space as they had about $36M to spare before this move and about $40M now. They have only Mikko Rantanen as a significant RFA/UFA to sign, then a bunch of smaller signings like J.T. Compher and Alex Kerfoot. What that indicates to me is that something big is coming down the pipe, be it free agency or via trade. Maybe it’s both!
Connauton does serve as depth, with the team having Ian Cole and Erik Johnson both on the mend from surgery. Cole, specifically, is a left-shot defenceman who can be replaced by Connauton if necessary. Other than that, there isn’t much fantasy value change for anyone involved.
What Arizona gets
It seems like the Coyotes already had a glut of bottom-6 centres and this only adds to it. Assuming some order of Stepan/Schmaltz is the 1-2 combo at the top, Brad Richardson and Christian Dvorak figure to be the 3-4 combo at the bottom. That doesn’t include the ability for Nick Cousins (pending RFA) to play the middle, or Alex Galchenyuk, or Mario Kempe (though I assume he doesn’t really figure in). Having centres able to play the wing isn’t an issue, the issue with Arizona is scoring. That’s part of the reason this deal doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The other is that Soderberg, as mentioned, will turn 34 in October and has one year left on his current deal. That is the type of player a team with Cup aspirations looks to and asks themselves if he’s the missing third-line centre they need for a one-year run. But Arizona is a ways from a Cup contender and this isn’t their year to make a big push. Maybe he helps them to the playoffs and that’s the entire goal here. In reality, they didn’t give up much to make it happen so in that sense, it’s fine.
Soderberg, by the way, is a very capable third-line centre. He drives the play, is adequate defensively, and draws penalties. This is a fine pick-up for the Coyotes to make, even if it’s just for a one-year playoff push.
Something I wonder: maybe this pushes Schmaltz to the wing? He’s played there before in Chicago and he is atrocious on faceoffs. They could then run Stepan-Soderberg-Dvorak-Richardson down the middle while bolstering their wing depth at the same time. That would make a lot of sense to me.
Who this helps
Who this hurts
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