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Looking to the future, Coyotes sign Antti Raanta to three-year extension

(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Arizona Coyotes reinforced the idea of keeping a core group of players together Friday when the organization announced the signing of goaltender Antti Raanta to a three-year contract extension.

“We always let him know that our plan was to get a deal with him and keep him in Arizona long term,” Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka said.

The Coyotes acquired Raanta last summer alongside center Derek Stepan from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and a seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft.

“We wanted to stay here,” Raanta said. “Everybody in this organization sees that we’re making the process and going the right way right now and I wanted to be part of that.”

Instead of waiting for free agency to hit, Chayka said inking the deal before the end of the season reinforces the team’s commitment to growing a solid core of talent.

“I think it sends a message that when you’re a good player and you perform, you’re going to get paid,” Chayka said.

Raanta agreed and said it’s nice to have the deal done before he returns to Finland or the off-season because it makes it easier to look forward to the next season knowing what is going to be there. Being able to return to this roster was something he wanted because of the strides the young team has made this season.

“When everybody is dialed in, we’re a tough team to beat.”

This season, Raanta has posted a .930 save percentage. He’s started 45 of the 46 games he’s played in for the club. In his past 10 appearances, he’s gone 9-1-0 and posted two shutouts. While his season has been sidelined by injuries, Raanta’s numbers show he can be a high level goalie if he can stay healthy.

“I have lots of confidence that he’s going to commit himself to being and NHL starter and that’s taking care of your body and doing the right things to play 60-plus games,” Chayka said. “I think he’s a dedicated guy and he’s understood what it takes now on a personal level what it takes for himself.”

“When I got myself going, my biggest goal was to get back and give this team a chance to win every night,” Raanta said.

Raanta echoed that the three-year deal was ideal for both sides of the contract. Chayka describe it a prove-it type of deal, rather than inking the goaltender to a four year deal or longer. The terms of the deal allow the Coyotes flexibility when other contracts come up for renewal.

“We talked about a longer term deal and I respect and appreciate the fact that he bet on himself on this deal,” Chayka said. “For us, it’s a good opportunity for us to grow as the group that we have here.”

With scorpion woes, injuries and the 2017-2018 season nearly in the rearview mirror, Raanta is looking forward to the summer where he plans to train to continuing honing his game.

“I want to be playing a lot,” Raanta said. “I want to be playing really good all the time, and I want to get us in the playoff picture.”

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