Yesterday, I looked at the unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) the Coyotes have heading into the offseason. Today, we will look at a small group of restricted free agents (RFA’s) the Coyotes have and some of the factors that could go into the decision to re-sign them long term, keep them until their contract runs out or retain them if another team tries to sign them away.
Restricted Free Agents- Age- Current Salary- (courtesy of CapGeek.com)
Gilbert Brule- 25 yrs. old-$1.85 million- Tough call on the young, physical forward. He spent a good portion of the season in the minors retooling his game. When he was called up, he provided a spark for this Coyote team during its most successful spell during the regular season. He is a prototypical, 4th line grinder who does have some offensive skills (5G-9A-14P in 33 games). If you look at comparable cap figures though, Viktor Stalberg for the Blackhawks and Matt Read for the Flyers had 40+ points and they made the same amount of money and are nearly the same age as Brule. Brule has shown flashes of 3rd line potential, but hasn’t been able to be consistent enough to get large chunks of minutes in the NHL.
Verdict- While I like Gilbert Brule, more production is needed for his type of salary. He only cost the Coyotes $925,000 this year with his pro-rated 2-way contract. If we can chase off teams who want to sign him for more than his contract is worth right now, great. But if teams come with outrageous offers ($2.5 million and above) you have to let him walk. At the most, and I am being generous, he is a $2 million a year player. Hope we keep him, but at the same or reduced cost.
Andy Miele- 24 yrs. old- $1.325 million- Another tough call on the former Hobey Baker award winner. He has not been able to crack the lineup full-time yet. A lot of that is due to his diminutive size and his lack of physicality. He has trouble using his great hands and his great hockey sense (being in the right place at the right time) because he is too easy to push around. He spent most of the 11-12 season in the minors (AHL- Portland). He put up pretty good offensive numbers (16G-38A-54P) in 69 games, but when he was called up to the show, he struggled mightily (0P in 7 games).
Verdict- Miele didn’t cost the Coyotes all that much because he made less money playing on his 2-way contract in the AHL, but the Cap hit was still the same as if he was being paid his full salary. The Coyotes need to give Miele a chance to play with the big boys or make the call to get rid of him. He is costing the squad way too much money to be playing in the minors for most of the season. I would like to see what he could do taking Langkow’s spot in the lineup and giving him time with the 2nd line and on the power play.
Chris Summers- 24 yrs. old- $1.21 million- Summers is a solid, young stay-at-home defenseman. He played average defensively when he was called up (-4 in 21 games) and was not much better offensively (0G-3A-3P). He has the potential to be a future Top-4 defenseman, but has not played up to his potential so far in his young career. His numbers were even worse down in the minors this year (0G-2A-2P in 28 G with AHL-Portland).
Verdict- Summers is destined for another year in the minors. If the Coyotes get rid of Aucoin and potentially Rozsival, that opens up 2 spots in the top 6. Unfortunately for Summers, 2 others (Dave Schlemko, Michael Stone) are young, up-and-coming defenseman who have surpassed Summers on the depth chart. If he remains in the minors, he doesn’t hurt us that badly. His cap number worries me, but with Morris getting older, he will need a replacement sooner than later. Hold onto Summers for one more year and hope he can replace Morris after next season.
Kyle Chipchura- 26 yrs. old- $550,000- Value signing of the season for the Coyotes. He played a very physical role on the 3rd and 4th lines. He hustled, worked well in the offensive zone during the cycle and was very good as a defensive forward. His offensive numbers don’t jump out at you (3G-13A-16P), but he works to put his teammates in good situations with his effort. He finished the season with a +2 rating, consistently and effectively forechecking and backchecking with the situation requested it.
Verdict- Keep him if you can. His value has gone up and he deserves a raise. Chipchura is the 4th line guy you want out there to continue grinding the opponent down late in games. The fact that he chips in some goals and assists can’t be discounted. Try to keep him for between $1-1.5 million for the next 2-3 seasons.
This weekend, I will look at the UFA’s and RFA’s from other teams that might interest the Coyotes. I will not only give you who I think the best of these group’s are, but potentially realistic UFA and RFA additions that the Coyotes should try to make happen. I will also look at the possibility that some of the Coyotes may not be here next year via trade.
About the Author
Written by Michael Jenkins
I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Graduated from THE University of Arizona. I now reside part time in San Francisco, CA. I am a diehard Phoenix Coyotes fan (season ticket holder since Day 1) and a diehard Chelsea FC fan. I am passionate, energetic and highly grateful to get the opportunity to work in this business again.