The 5PM Eastern deadline for qualifying restricted free agents has passed. we'll likely get an update from the Coyotes later today on what players they have qualified and perhaps a couple of contract signings.
Seven players who finished the 2008-09 season on the Coyotes roster are RFAs and must be qualified by today. They are Nigel Dawes, Keith Yandle, Scott Upshall, Daniel Winnik, Joakim Lindstron, Enver Lisin and Brian McGrattan. Petr Prucha was also in this group but he signed a two year contract last week. In addition to players from the NHL roster, Josh Tordjman heads a group of 11 players from the San Antonio Rampage who are also RFAs. Defensemen Sami Lepisto and Shawn Heshka, obtained during the draft weekend and forward Stefan Myers who came over in the Steven Rupprecht trade are also RFAs.
So what does this mean?
Well we expect Yandle and Upshall will be qualified without exception. Both of these players are strong NHL assets and will be looking for long term contracts and big raises. Don Maloney has said he would like to get a fair two way contract in place for Enver Lisin. They would mean making a deal before he is qualified. Lepisto, Heshka and Torjdman are probably in the same boat as Lisin. The Coyotes have already announced that McGrattan is not coming back and Winnik may get an AHL contract.
That leaves Nigel Dawes and Joakim Lindstrom as question marks. Both are depth players who a) have flashed some scoring ability and b) are relatively cheap. Lindstrom had 9 goals in 44 games after coming over in a trade with Anaheim and he made $500,000 last year. Dawes made $587,500 and he potted 10 goals, splitting the season between the Yotes and the New York Rangers.
It's hard to see room for both of them in Phoenix. And in what may or may not be a predictor of what is happening, Dawes has been removed from the Coyotes roster on the team web site. Maloney was disappointed in his play after joining the Coyotes and signals seem to point to Nigel moving on next year.
Once the Coyotes publish their qualifying offers and contract signings, it will give a good picture of what roster moves to expect in the next few days.