Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Around the NHL: Coyotes pursue land in Mesa; Leafs sign Jones; Flyers and Hurricanes make trade
By Mike Gould6 months ago
Wednesday was a surprisingly busy day around the National Hockey League, particularly given that we’re squarely in the middle of the off-season. August ain’t exactly high time for NHL news.
But quite a lot ended up going down on Wednesday, from the east coast to the west. We saw signings, a trade, and even another piece of news in the never-ending Arizona Coyotes arena saga. What more could you want?
We’ll start our news roundup down in the desert.
Coyotes set their sights on Mesa
After being turned down by Tempe voters in the spring, the Arizona Coyotes have shifted their sights to the neighbouring municipality of Mesa in an attempt to build a new arena and entertainment district.
“We can confirm that Coyotes Owner, Chairman & Governor Alex Meruelo has executed a Letter of Intent to purchase a parcel of land located in Mesa, Arizona to be the potential site for a sports arena and entertainment district for the Club,” the Coyotes said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Coyotes remain committed to building the first privately funded sports facility in Arizona history and ensuring the Valley as the Club’s permanent home.
“In addition to this property in Mesa, the Club will continue to explore other potential sites in the East Valley.”
The Coyotes shared this statement shortly after Arizona Sports first reported about their pursuit of the land in northwest Mesa on Tuesday evening.
According to PHNX Sports‘ Craig Morgan, the Coyotes are still considering sites in Scottsdale and Phoenix to establish backup plans in case one option proves itself to be unworkable.
The Coyotes currently play at the 4,600-seat Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. They previously occupied Gila River Arena (now Desert Diamond Arena) in the city of Glendale, AZ between 2003 and 2021; before that, they shared an arena in downtown Phoenix with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
A site in Mesa would put the Coyotes in close proximity to a large base of potential fans in Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, and Gilbert, as well as the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community. While negotiations appear to still be in preliminary stages, we could see something clearer on the Coyotes’ situation — for better or for worse — by around the midway mark of the 2023–24 season.
Leafs add Martin Jones in net
The Toronto Maple Leafs now have a lot of goalies.
Count ’em: Ilya Samsonov, Joseph Woll, Matt Murray, and now Martin Jones are all under contract with the Leafs for the 2023–24 season. Of them, only Woll is signed beyond next year. The other three can become unrestricted free agents in 2024.
Murray, 29, will likely spend much (if not all) of the upcoming season on long-term injured reserve after being plagued by injuries in recent seasons. It’s unclear whether he’ll ever play in the NHL again.
Enter Jones, a 33-year-old vet who won 27 games for the Seattle Kraken in 2022–23 despite posting an underwhelming .887 save percentage. He’ll earn $875,000 on his one-year pact with the Leafs.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for the Leafs to enter training camp with three NHL-calibre goalies and break with just two after losing one on the waiver wire.
Jones appears to be much more likely to hit waivers than Woll. Could we see a Curtis McElhinney redux this year? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Either way, Brad Treliving continues to be busy after taking over as general manager in Toronto earlier this off-season. In addition to Jones, he’s brought in Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Ryan Reaves, and John Klingberg, although he hasn’t extended head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Flyers, Hurricanes “complete” DeAngelo deal
Don’t call it a quid pro quo, but the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes swung a deal that raised some eyebrows around the NHL on Wednesday.
Early in the morning, the two clubs announced that they had consummated a seemingly minor trade. But there might just be more to it than initially meets the eye.
The Flyers received the rights to forward prospect Massimo Rizzo and a fifth-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft. Rizzo, who turned 22 earlier this summer, just scored 17 goals and 46 points in 38 games as a sophomore at the University of Denver. He looks pretty good.
In return, the Hurricanes received David Kase, a 26-year-old winger who hasn’t played in North America at all in the last two seasons. But when Kase was in the Flyers’ system, he scored 51 points in 110 AHL games and appeared in just seven NHL contests.
On top of that, Kase is less than a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent altogether at age 27. But the Hurricanes gave up a draft pick on top of Rizzo to get him. What gives?
Well … you might remember that the Flyers and Hurricanes had been talking about a trade involving defenceman Tony DeAngelo earlier this off-season. The NHL stepped in and nixed the deal, so the Flyers ended up buying out DeAngelo’s contract — allowing him to join the Hurricanes in a more roundabout way.
It sure sounds like Rizzo would’ve been part of that DeAngelo trade. Now, in effect, he was. The two teams seemingly just bent the league’s various player movement mechanisms to their will to make the whole thing work in the end.
It’s undoubtedly still a little strange but, hey, the league approved this trade, so it looks like it’s all good. DeAngelo is a Hurricane (again) and Rizzo’s rights belong to the Flyers. A DeAngelo-for-Rizzo deal looks a lot better than what the Flyers and Hurricanes announced today.
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