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Initial Recation: Hjalmarsson and Saad/Panarin trades 

The host city for this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Chicago, made a gigantic splash early on in the day. 

Shortly after the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs, general manager Stan Bowman promised change. Clearly unhappy with being swept out in the first round, change is exactly what Stan Bowman brought. 

The first move he made was trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. Although initially believed to be a salary cap move, the Blackhawks wound up only saving approximately $300,000. 

Trading Hjalmarsson was surely a difficult endeavor for Bowman. The Swede has been one of the most underrated defensemen in the league for quite some time now. 

Connor Murphy is a formidable NHL player but he is not at the caliber of Hjalmarsson, at least not yet. To be fair, Murphy is younger and carries more of a certainty with his cost (signed for five more years at $3.85 million). Hjalmarsson only has two more seasons left on his current deal before he hits unrestricted free agency. 

Dauphin, once considered a top prospect, has fallen off a bit, but he still holds the capability of being an NHL regular. Whether he plays in Chicago or Rockford next season remains to be seen. 

However, with no disrespect towards Murphy or Dauphin, this is a great trade for Arizona. Hjalmarsson will serve as a good mentor and experienced winner on a young Coyotes squad. Plus, obviously, he is a fantastic defender. 

The Blackhawks were not done yet though. A few moments later, rumblings from Elliott Friedman indicated a swap involving Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin was in the air. With a few extra moving parts, the deal did eventually go through. 

The final result was Columbus getting Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago getting Brandon Saad (back) and Anton Forsberg. Low picks were also swapped. 

It is hard to get a read on this trade. Panarin and Kane had chemistry, but you could put almost anyone on Kane’s line and they will click given Kane’s skill set. 

The overarching theme here, I believe, is that the Hawks were looking for someone to play with Jonathan Toews. He and Saad were dominant in the few years they were together. After consecutive disappointing years by Toews, maybe this will give him the boost he needs. 

As for Panarin, he was just set to begin a new deal with Chicago. He is set to earn $6 million for the next two years before hitting unrestricted free agency. 

This is a trade that will be looked at in hindsight after seeing how Saad and Panarin perform on their (technically) new teams. 

As for the other pieces, Motte will likely slot in the bottom six for Columbus. Forsberg will have the chance to compete for a backup spot in Chicago. 

Stay tuned for more draft coverage. 

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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Predicting Protected Lists: Arizona Coyotes 

Unlike the Ducks, the Coyotes are in a solid spot in terms of expansion. GM John Chayka does not have the best forward group, and therefore Arizona might have a few spots open up front to acquire and protect players via trade. 

The only player on the Coyotes with a no-movement clause is Alex Goligoski. Despite a first disappointing season in Arizona, he would have likely been protected regardless so the clause is not an issue. 

In terms of other defensemen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is easily protected. Connor Murphy, a young and promising defenseman who recently captained the United States at Worlds, is likely to be protected as well. 

Due to their weakness up front, the Coyotes could wind up protecting four defensemen for the expansion draft. The other defensive protection spot could go to one of two of Luke Schenn or Kevin Connauton. If I had to make a guess, I would say Schenn gets the nod. 

Because in this scenario the Coyotes are protecting four defensemen, they only have four forward spots to use. They have a few unrestricted free agents (like Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata), so they are not issues. 

They have a few restricted free agents to worry about, but no one of huge significance that they might lose. 

The Arizona Coyotes expansion draft protection list could wind up looking like this:

Forwards: Anthony Duclair, Jamie McGinn, Tobias Rieder, Jordan Martinook

Defense: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Connor Murphy, Alex Goligoski, Luke Schenn

Goalie: Mike Smith 

In terms of players the Coyotes could lose, Louis Domingue, Kevin Connauton, and Brad Richardson are possible bets. 
Should they acquire another forward or two to protect, the Coyotes would switch to the 7-3-1 protection scenario instead of 8-1. 

Next team: Boston Bruins

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Report: Tobias Rieder considering KHL move 

Tobias Rieder, a current restricted free agent of the Arizona Coyotes, may be spending next season overseas.  Read the rest of this entry

No shortage of trade interest in Arizona’s Boedker 

It is widely believed that Arizona forward Mikkel Boedker will be traded before or at the February 29th NHL trade deadline. The Austrian native has 37 points including 13 goals in 56 games this year. 

Boedker, 26, has been with the Coyotes organization ever since he was drafted eighth overall in the 2008 NHL entry draft. Of the players in that draft, Boedker ranks tenth in points, behind Stamkos, Karlsson, Eberle, Doughty, Stepan, Bailey, Pietrangelo, Ennis and Carlson. Boedker has played all 439 of his career games with the club. 

Boedker is reportedly (via Bob McKenzie) looking for a five or six year deal at or north of 5.5 million per season. Although Boedker is currently the highest scoring forward on the team, Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, and Tobias Rieder amongst others are right there knocking on the door and will need more ice time in the near future. Not to mention, they’ll all need new deals smack in the middle of Boedker’s wanted five or six years. 

Boedker’s scoring touch and speed could help a lot of teams for a playoff run. Pittsburgh and Chicago have been the rumored interested, but more teams likely have silently expressed interest or will express interest in the next ten days leading up to the trade deadline. 

The Rangers could be one team that may take a crack at him. With a closing window, they should try to get the Cup within the next two to three years and Boedker would help their cause this year. 

Montreal would be a team I’d usually expect, but it is highly unlikely, barring a good run, that they make the playoffs. That takes them out of this sweepstakes. 

Another good fit could be the Florida Panthers, but a lot of forwards would look nice there. 

The list goes on and on, because Mikkel Boedker will be a nice asset in play at the trade deadline. Not every team will be willing to or able to cough up what Arizona wants, but there will be no shortage of inquiries. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles