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Coyotes acquiring defenseman Anton Stralman from Panthers?

Pro Hockey Rumors
Pro Hockey Rumors
For the Panthers, getting rid of Anton Stralman’s cap hit is a huge boost, considering their recent acquisition of Sam Reinhart. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman has waived his no-trade clause and will be heading to the Arizona Coyotes, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. Stralman has just one year remaining on his current contract, which carries a $5.5 million cap hit. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Coyotes will also receive prospect Vladislav Kolyachonok, and a 2024 second-round pick. The Panthers will receive a 2023 seventh-round pick in return.

The Coyotes have made move after move this summer to weaponize their cap space, using it to acquire future assets in preparation for a rebuild. Many of their key players remain in the fold, but the Coyotes have taken on bad contracts such as those belonging to Andrew Ladd, Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel. They even received two draft picks to bring in Shayne Gostisbehere, who will likely be asked to play big minutes considering how many vacancies there are on the back end. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was shipped out of town and Niklas Hjalmarsson retired while Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Oesterle, Aaron Ness and Jordan Gross are all pending unrestricted free agents.

That means Stralman would be joining a group that includes only Gostisbehere, Jakob Chychrun and Ilya Lyubushkin on the back end. That’s not a group that should be very imposing, at least not anymore. Stralman (who turns 35 in just a few days) was once the perfect defensive complement to high-end offensive players but has declined rapidly in recent years. His minutes were slashed this season in Florida, where he recorded just nine points in 38 games.

Arizona meanwhile now holds five second-round picks for the 2022 draft and has now added another one for down the road, which should help the Coyotes restock a bereft prospect pipeline. Arizona had traded away top prospects to acquire players such as Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel, while also being stripped of draft picks thanks to scouting violations. GM Bill Armstrong has obviously decided that building that part of the organization back up was a priority this offseason, but it could very well come at the cost of a competitive season.

The Coyotes have just five players signed to one-way contracts for the 2022-23 season (six, if you include Ladd, who has played just five NHL games over the past two years), and have been rumored to be listening even on some of those. Unless Arizona is extremely aggressive in free agency, this appears like it will be quite a lean season for the roster, relying on aging veterans or fringe NHL players to fill several key spots.

For the Panthers, getting rid of Stralman’s cap hit is a huge boost, considering their recent acquisition of Sam Reinhart. Arizona signed RFA Sam Bennett earlier Monday and didn’t have a lot of room left to get the Reinhart deal done. Now, with an extra $5.5 million in room, the Coyotes can not only get Reinhart under contract but could potentially look for further upgrades through free agency. Giving away a prospect and a pick is never easy, but the Panthers are in a win-now mode with their deep, relatively young roster that looks poised to do some damage in the Atlantic Division.

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