Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong was bound and determined to add a couple more draft picks to his offseason haul before the start of Coyotes development camp on Sep. 9.
He succeeded in doing so, trading away center Christian Dvorak to the Montreal Canadiens for the higher of Montreal’s two first-round selections in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and a 2024 second-round selection.
“I felt that Christian had a lot of value,” Armstrong said. “Not only for our club but also on the open market. Centers seem to be hard to find, so we tried to maximize that and we had to look at improving our team down the road. This move did that.”
— NHL (@NHL) September 4, 2021
Much like recently traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper, Dvorak was the subject of trade rumors throughout the course of the offseason. Thanks to the return they netted from the Canadiens, Arizona now owns three first-round picks in next year’s draft, which is expected to produce a larger-than-normal amount of premier players.
Dvorak, who established himself as a competent second-line center over the course of the last two seasons, was a second-round pick of the Coyotes in 2015, and concludes his stay in the desert with a total of 67 goals and 146 points in 302 games played. The Palos, Ill. native made a name for himself thanks to his power play acumen and highlight-reel shootout goals, and enjoyed his best season in 2019-20, when he reached the 20-goal mark for the first and so far only time in his career.
Christian Dvorak wins it for Arizona in the shootout pic.twitter.com/UVZIbMYckg
— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) February 9, 2021
Although the Coyotes do not currently have an established center ready to fill Dvorak’s spot on the second line and top power play unit, his departure opens the door for one of the team’s forward prospects to obtain a meaningful role this season. 2018 first-round pick Barrett Hayton immediately comes to mind as a replacement for Dvorak since he is a natural center and has made sporadic NHL appearances in each of the last two seasons.
For now, Dvorak’s departure from the Coyotes likely signals the end of their mission to dismantle their previous core and acquire as many draft picks as possible in the process. However, rumors continue to swirl around the future of Arizona’s remaining veterans, and more moves are likely, if not certain to take place once the regular season gets going.