- Ryan S. Clark is an NHL reporter for ESPN.
Nick Bjugstad became the latest player to leave the Arizona Coyotes, who traded the forward to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday for a 2023 third-round draft pick, a source confirmed to ESPN.
The teams also swapped defenseman prospects as part of the deal, with Arizona receiving Michael Kesselring and Edmonton acquiring Cam Dineen, the source confirmed. The trade was first reported by Daily Faceoff.
Bjugstad, a pending unrestricted free agent who has scored 13 goals and 23 points in 59 games this season, gives the Oilers a 6-foot-6 center who could be used in their bottom six in addition to their penalty kill.
The trade comes a day after the Coyotes traded defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to the Carolina Hurricanes while moving defenseman Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators. After the multiple deals, the Coyotes own 11 picks for the 2023 draft, 14 picks for the 2024 draft and 11 picks for the 2025 draft as of Thursday afternoon.
The stockpiling of assets also comes as the Coyotes, who entered Thursday with the fifth-fewest points in the NHL, are among the many teams in the running to win the draft lottery and take the presumed No. 1 player in Connor Bedard.
Adding Bjugstad is the most recent move for last year’s Western Conference final runner-up. On Tuesday, the Oilers cleared cap space by sending forward Jesse Puljujarvi to the Carolina Hurricanes. Hours later, the Oilers traded for Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and a 2023 sixth-round pick in a deal that saw defenseman Tyson Barrie, prospect forward Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick go to Nashville.
The Oilers entered Thursday third in the Pacific Division, four points behind the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights and two points clear of the Seattle Kraken and the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Coyotes will retain 50% of Bjugstad’s $900,000 salary and have used all three of their salary-retention spots for the season. The Coyotes retained $2.625 million of Patrick Kane’s contract as a third-party broker in a deal that sent the star winger from the Chicago Blackhawks to the New York Rangers. They also have another $990,000 on the books from former captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is now with the Vancouver Canucks.
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