TAMPA, Fla. -- There's a clear message coming out of Glendale, Ariz., directed to Sabres GM Tim Murray.
It sounds something like this: Anything you can tank, I can tank better.
The Arizona Coyotes, as expected, are in full blow-it-up mode in pursuit of 30th place and the best shot at Connor McDavid as the NHL's trade deadline approaches at 3 p.m. Monday.
The Yotes sent center Antoine Vermette to Chicago Saturday night for a first-round draft pick and defense prospect Klas Dahlbeck. And now the final touches are being put on another whopper: Defenseman Keith Yandle, a puck-mover and power-play specialist with a contract that runs through 2017, is off to the New York Rangers in exchange for Anthony Duclair, John Moore and a first-round pick at the 2016 draft (in Buffalo, remember).
The Rangers are also getting Chris Summers and Arizona is picking up 50 percent of Yandle's salary in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The Coyotes lost their ninth straight game Saturday in Boston, suffering a 4-1 loss to the Bruins and going 0-4 on an Eastern road trip that leaves them in 28th place overall but just four points ahead of the last-place Sabres.
Remember that Arizona GM Don Maloney talked about "suffering" earlier this season and, of course, that should remind you who the Coyotes' assistant GM is: None other than Darcy Regier. The Coyotes, and not the Edmonton Oilers at 46 points, clearly rate as the Sabres' top threat to finishing 30th.
And remember this: The Coyotes and Sabres meet March 26 in Buffalo and March 30 in Glendale. Wanna bet the NHL will be watching those two games closely to make sure things are on the up and up?
The Sabres, who were off today, remain quiet as of 5 p.m. Chris Stewart, Torey Mitchell and Michal Neuvirth, among others, have yet to be dealt. GM Tim Murray has declined media requests today to this point.