With the Tucson Roadrunners making a push to the playoffs, Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka spent the NHL trading deadline making moves to boost the team’s chances.
Tucson, which begins a three-game road trip Wednesday, gained five new faces Monday.
Chayka made a pair of trades with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization to add two players to the Roadrunners.
The Coyotes traded away Ryan Kujawinski in exchange for 22-year old forward Jordan Maletta of Columbus’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters.
Maletta tallied four assists in 28 games for Cleveland.
The Roadrunners then received Cleveland’s Carter Camper in exchange for future considerations. Camper, a 29-year old, was Cleveland’s leading points contributor with 13 goals and 29 assists.
Later Monday, Tucson acquired three more players from a pair of trades.
The Roadrunners added forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie and defenseman Trevor Murphy from the Nashville Predators organization in exchange for Tyler Gaudet and John Rampage.
Labrie and Murphy played for Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee; Labrie had tallied five goals and seven assists while Murphy had contributed eight goals and 18 assists.
To top off the day, Tucson added Derek Army of Milwaukee for future considerations. Army, a 26-year old center, produced one goal and four assists in 22 games for Milwaukee.
Chayka spoke to Phoenix reporters Monday about the trade deadline moves and indicated that the action was centered around building Tucson’s roster.
“We’ve got a great group down there and the coaches have done a nice job,” Chayka said, according to azcentral.com.
“We’re hoping they can make a push in the last part of the season here and next year as well. We expect that success down in Tucson. That’s an important part of what we’re trying to do here.”
The Roadrunners currently sit atop the AHL’s Pacific Division with a .633 points percentage. San Diego is next closest with a .594 mark.
The top four teams in each division earn a playoff bid, putting Tucson in good position to make the postseason.
Tucson should also benefit from the return of Nick Merkley, who has missed much of the last month-plus while nursing an upper body injury.
The Roadrunners face the Grand Rapid Griffins for one game Wednesday, then travel to Cleveland to take on the Monsters for a pair of games this weekend.
Chayka hopes that the success of the Roadrunners will eventually lead to wins at the NHL level.
“I think if you go back and look at teams who have had success at the NHL level,” Chayka told azcentral.com. “They typically had significant success at the American Hockey League level and then that group grows and builds and create something special at the next level.