When a surprising trade takes place in the National Hockey League, our first thought goes to the traded players, and how their lives will be affected by the move - whether it'd be positively or negatively. We rarely think of their teammates, line mates and coaches who are too affected by the transaction.
The latest trade in the NHL sent Marcus Kruger to the Arizona Coyotes from the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, along with a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, for Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick in 2018. And while this one is over and done with on a technical point, it seems like it will affect another Coyotes player moving forward.
Craig Morgan of Arizona Central reports that the acquisition of Kruger from the Hurricanes could signal a makeover for their shutdown line. Center Brad Richardson is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and might not return following the shocking trade.
"Weird coincidence: Brad Richardson said he worked out with Jordan Martinook on Thursday morning, hours before the trade that sent Martinook to Carolina and created doubt about Richardson's return," Morgan posted on Twitter.
"Sports are funny sometimes," Richardson told him following the trade.
While Coyotes GM John Chayka didn’t rule out bringing back Richardson, many believe that Kruger will be his replacement for the upcoming season. Richardson can become an unrestricted free agent on July as he is finishing out a three-year, $6.25 million deal. One of his agents at Newport Sports Management, Mark Guy, once said that the 33-year-old would be seeking a multi-year deal.
However, by acquiring Kruger, the Coyotes seem to have closed the door on the return of a second piece of that effective line in Richardson.
“It’s a similar type of profile,” Chayka said. “Looking at the free-agent market of which Brad is a part, I’d say that there are very few of them that check these boxes. With the salary cap rising and demand for center icemen high, it’s going to be a very competitive marketplace. We wanted to make sure if there was an opportunity to get a player like this we did.”
“Obviously, I like it here and my preference would be to come back, but the longer it goes, the more options start surfacing and you see what else is out there,” Richardson recently said about free agency and returning to Arizona.
Maybe now he does indeed have to see what else is out there...