The Coyotes have questions to answer between the pipes this season.
Karel Vejmelka is locked in to play for the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022/23 season, but the team has some glaring questions to answer about their overall tandem.
Joining a team looking to tank is never easy, and Vejmelka did the best he could for the Arizona Coyotes during his rookie campaign in the NHL.
The Czech goaltender featured in 53 games last season, posting a 13-32-3 record, a 3.68 goals-against average, and a .898 save percentage during that time.
The Coyotes will not be expected to be much more competitive this season, with the potential to land the likes of Connor Bedard or Matvei Michkov the prize at the end.
However, the team still needs to have a goaltending tandem throughout the season, providing Vejmelka with either some competition for the starting role or at least a backup that can step in when necessary – so what will Bill Armstrong do?
Free agency has dried up rather quickly, as is usually the case, leaving very few names available for the Coyotes to even consider signing – though there is one name left that could be seeking an opportunity after a few difficult seasons.
Braden Holtby remains an unrestricted free agent after 22 starts with the Dallas Stars last season, his third team in three seasons.
Holtby, 32, had decent enough stats during those starts, with a .913 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against average.
The market appears to be fairly barren for the former Vezina Trophy winner, but the Coyotes could offer him a chance to play meaningful minutes in the NHL, with the potential to move him to a contender at the trade deadline.
Other free agent goaltenders that played NHL games last season include Andrew Hammond, Garret Sparks, Jean-François Bérubé, and Cory Schneider, so the options for the team are limited.
A trade could be another way to bring in a goaltender, potentially taking on a contract that another team is keen to part with – something that Armstrong could use to his advantage and earn even more draft capital, but if a deal were to be made it is likely to have already happened by now.
This leaves the Coyotes with the goaltenders occupying roster spots with the Tucson Roadrunners as the only remaining avenue to add a goaltender to the roster, with Ivan Prosvetov the leading candidate, alongside Jon Gillies – who played 20 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues last season.
It’s an interesting time for the Arizona Coyotes, who continue their transition and rebuilding process, and filling gaps will be the main aim while the team looks to build a genuinely competitive team for the future.
But for now, the immediate question will be who partners Vejmelka between the pipes next season.