Somewhere between the Coyotes’ steady veteran presence of Shane Doan and youth of Max Domi lies Mikkel Boedker.
Despite being just 26-years-old, the native of Denmark has become a seasoned veteran due to some unique circumstances. Boedker was the Coyotes’ eighth overall selection at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and under the final days of the Wayne Gretzky regime he was thrown into the lineup, appearing in 78 games in his first season in the NHL in 2008-09, scoring 28 points (11-17—28).
Once Dave Tippett took control of the coaching reigns and injected stability into the organization, Boedker would spend the next two seasons sharing time between the big club and their then-AHL affiliate in San Antonio and would make his full-time return to the Coyotes in 2011-12, where he would play all 82 regular season games and tally 24 points (11-13–24) that season.
With the exception of last season where he was limited to 45 games because of an injured spleen, Boedker has become a mainstay in the Arizona lineup, even hitting a career-high of 51 points (19-32—51) playing in all 82 regular season games just two seasons ago.
Boedker has also made 20 postseason appearances for the Coyotes, and you could make the argument he was a key player in the Coyotes’ run to the Western Conference Final in the Spring of 2012 when he notched four goals and four assists in 16 contests.
And through 52 games this season, he has 35 points (13-22—35) and is on pace for a respectable 55 points.
In other words, despite playing on a team that’s languished in mediocrity most years, Boedker has built an NHL resume that’s nothing to sneeze at, and now he’s scheduled to hit the free agent market for the first time in his career this July 1.
According to capfriendly.com, Boedker is in the middle of a one-year deal where he currently earns $3.75 million. It’s a modest raise from his previous two-year deal that saw him earn $2.55 million annually and left him as a restricted free agent last summer.
And this is the dilemma that General Manager Don Maloney and the Coyotes currently have on their hands. They entered action Tuesday sitting in fourth place in the Pacific Division, just three points back of Anaheim for the final postseason spot in the division.
In other words, the team is in that precarious “bubble” position where they’re not a for-sure buyer but they’re surely not out of the playoff race by any means and ready to sell off any and all movable assets.
All the while, Boedker continues to remain unsigned and if the organization isn’t able to lock him up before the NHL’s February 29 trade deadline, then they could possibly lose him for absolutely nothing. As Maloney’s continues to retool the roster, he’s emphasized good asset management, so losing Boedker would hurt.
Needless to say, Coyotes management is probably formulating “plan A” (and likely a “plan B”, and maybe “plan C”) as we are now under the three week mark until the trade deadline, but what those plans could be don’t appear to be very clear at this time. Maloney and his staff are holding their cards close to the vest, wanting to hang on to every bit of leverage in the process.
It’s possible, especially if Arizona continues to fall out of the race over the next couple of weeks, that Maloney will go ahead and move Boedker, but don’t be surprised if it’s a deal that looks similar to when they moved Keith Yandle. The New York Rangers sent over Anthony Duclair, an NHL-ready prospect, along with a first round pick in 2016 in exchange for Yandle, a journeyman, and a fourth round pick. It’s likely that the Coyotes will again be looking for a prospect that’s close to NHL-ready and a draft choice in exchange for the Dane.
It’s also possible that Boedker will be moved but for a veteran player, but one with a contract that features a reasonable salary and long term. The sensible salary and terms would be huge for a lower-payroll team that’s rebuilding as Arizona is.
The third option is to simply re-sign the forward. By no means is it a bad option, but again, Maloney and his staff will need to discuss whether they want to give Boedker, who appears to be settling in as a player who produces 50-55 points peryear, a new contract – especially if he and his agent want a raise over the nearly $4 million he’s currently earning.
One thing is for certain, with Boedker, the Coyotes have flexibility, and when you’re trying to rebuild a roster, flexibility can be a general manager’s best friend.