Coyotes acquire center Stepan, goalie Raanta in exchange for No. 7 pick
Shortly after landing a right-handed defenseman for their top pairing, the Coyotes secured a No. 1 center and No. 1 goalie.
Arizona sent the No. 7 pick in the draft and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to the New York Rangers for center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta.
Stepan, 26, has been linked to the Coyotes this summer. The center has had at least 50 points in each of the last four seasons, amounting to 17 goals and 38 assists last season for the New York Rangers. He fills need the Coyotes have arguably had since Jeremy Roenick departed.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be slotted here before and I look forward to jumping into a Coyotes jersey and playing with some of the young talent they have there,” Stepan said. “They’re a team that’s got a ton of young talent, a team that is on the cusp of taking that next step of being a real strong team and being someone that can compete for the Cup every single year.”
The Coyotes acquired Stepan in year three of his six-year, $39 million extension from the summer of 2015.
He has a no-move clause that kicks in July 1.
With Dylan Strome expected to make the team this season, the Coyotes have immense potential up the middle for the first time perhaps in their Valley history, with Stepan, Christian Dvorak, Brad Richardson and Nick Cousins all in the mix.
The price of a top-10 pick, according to general manager John Chayka, was affordable for the team given what they have and got in Stepan.
“We just feel we got another first-round pick this year, we got a lot of great young players and they need some stability, they need some good veteran players around them,” Chayka said. “This organization (has) been looking for a number one centerman for over a decade and he’s a guy that can fill that hole so I got a chance to make that move and I wasn’t going to miss it.”
The 28-year-old Raanta has played four seasons in the NHL, serving as a backup goalie in New York and Chicago. He has started 78 games over those four years, with a goals against average of 2.32 and a save percentage of .917. He won a Stanley Cup as Chicago’s backup in 2014-15.
Raanta is on a $1 million salary for the 2017-18 season and then will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. While the Coyotes still have Louis Domingue under contract, Chayka said of all the elite goalies that weren’t starters last year, the team believes Raanta is the guy who can make that leap.
“I feel like my game is headed in the right direction,” Raanta said. “I feel like I’m ready to be take one more step.”
DeAngelo was acquired by the Coyotes last summer for the 37th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. He had 14 points in his one season in Arizona, but he struggled to master the nuances of his defensive game. With the addition of Stepan, the Coyotes no longer expect to retain restricted free agent Alex Bumistrov.