According to a tweet from Darren Dreger, the Arizona Coyotes fielded winger Mikkel Boedker a contract extension earlier this season, and have since backed away from the offer. It’s fair to assume that Boedker’s days in Arizona are numbered. Multiple sources have suggested that the Coyotes aren’t going to let the 26-year old winger make his way through the trade deadline unless a new contract is in place. And rightfully so. While the Coyotes have had themselves a pretty nice season, thanks largely to impressive performances from their core of young players, they’re still pretty far away from competing. I mean, yeah, they’re technically in a playoff race because they’re only six points behind Colorado for the final Wild Card position, but they certainly aren’t in win now mode.
With just under a week left to go until the trade deadline and no new contract on the horizon, it’s pretty easy for anybody who’s been paying attention to put the pieces of the puzzle together and realize that the Coyotes will be selling on Mikkel Boedker. What type of return are the Coyotes going to be expecting? And what’s he going to command when he inevitably hits the open market this summer?
According to Pierre LeBrun, the Coyotes aren’t going to hang on to Boedker beyond the trade deadline unless he’s signed a contract extension. He goes on to say that the Coyotes have made offers, but as far as he knows, they’ve been rejected. Digging a little further, Elliotte Friedman said earlier this month in a 30 Thoughts article that new contract discussions for Boedker are apparently starting at $6 million.
While Boedker has had a good season, that’s a little bit much for somebody who’s never reached 20 goals in his career, and seems to be topping out at around 0.60 point-per-game production. Also, when you add in the fact the Coyotes are a team who operates under a self-imposed budget, you can see why it would be difficult for them to invest north of $6 million annually on Boedker, even if he is a solid, homegrown talent.
There are a couple of options here for the Coyotes. Like with the Boston Bruins and soon-to-be Loui Eriksson, they could shop him around and look to get another veteran player who’s under control for a few more years so their playoff aspirations don’t take a massive hit. I know, it may sound ridiculous because the Coyotes have some of the worst underlying numbers in the league, and it’s been expected all along that they would have some kind of fire sale, like last year, to increase their chances of winning the Auston Matthews Sweepstakes.
But in Arizona, while the goal is focused in the long-term, there’s also a tremendous amount of value in winning. Going on a playoff run will certainly attract fans to their games and will generally build interest in the team. So while trading the unsigned Boedker is inevitable, it could be advantageous for them to look for more of a hockey swap than the classic pick and a prospect deal that we would expect. And, like I said earlier, they’re only a few points out of a playoff spot, and to the casual hockey fan, they appear to be legitimate playoff contenders.
Regardless, we won’t know what the Coyotes are going to do until next Monday, but what we do know is that Mikkel Boedker will be hitting the open market this summer. So we can start to gauge what he realistically should be worth, and whether that $6 million figure being thrown around is valid or not.
Over the past few seasons, Boedker has established himself as a solid secondary scoring option. He produced 0.62 points-per-game in both 2013-14 and 2014-15, and this season, he’s on pace to set a new career high in points with 52. Also, throughout his career, Boedker has been a below-average possession player posting Corsi For percentages of 48.5, 48.0, and 46.7 in his past three seasons. And this is while generally playing in heavy offensive zone situations.
So Boedker is a solid player, but he certainly isn’t the type you would spend $6 million or more on. I mean, if this were one of those years where the cap ceiling took a big spike and everybody had money to play with, sure, I could see a team throwing that kind of cash at him. But with the possibility of the cap ceiling not rising at all next year, or hell, even potentially shrinking down a little bit, there’s no way a general manager will be able to invest $6 million on somebody like Boedker who hasn’t proven to be a high-level producer yet in his career.