The Phoenix Coyotes had been involved in rumors all weekend regarding a defenseman, but many expected it would be one on his way out, rather than on his way in.
Having already made on big trade on Friday, the Coyotes proved trading partners for another for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they returned former Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek to the desert.
A former Coyote, Michalek left Phoenix to sign a five-year deal with the Penguins in the summer of 2010. He still has three years remaining on that deal. In exchange for Michalek, the Coyotes sent Pittsburgh defenseman Harrison Ruopp, goaltender Marc Cheverie, and the 81st overall pick in this year’s draft, which the Penguins turned into Oskar Sundqvist out of Sweden.
Given his history with the team, the Coyotes know just what they’re getting in Michalek. He’s strong defensively and isn’t afraid to get down and block shots, leading the Pens in blocks last season, with 144. He had 13 points in 62 games with Pittsburgh last season.
Michalek could end up slotting in with Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a defensive pairing for the Coyotes, which could end up being their first pairing next season.
The trade for Michalek has only increased the speculation that Keith Yandle before the weekend is over. With defense in high supply in the Phoenix organization, it’s certainly a possibility that Yandle gets shipped out with this acquisitions, especially if they’re able to net a strong package for him.
It’s an intriguing situation to watch, and with big market clubs like the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, who have pieces to give up for Yandle, that’s going to be something to keep an eye on the rest of the weekend and heading into free agency next weekend.