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CBS Sports: Arizona Coyotes earn ‘A’ grade for 2018 offseason

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka talks with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Coyotes had a good offseason, addressing areas of need while keeping the core of the team together.

That was reflected in CBS Sports’ NHL offseason grades which awarded the Coyotes an “A” grade.

The good: First things first, the Coyotes locked up Oliver Ekman-Larsson with an eight-year, $66 million extension. It’s hard to say anything bad about that. And, in what was one of the most shocking deals of the offseason, the Coyotes traded Max Domi to the Montreal Canadiens for Alex Galchenyuk, straight up. That has the potential to be a hell of a one-for-one trade swap. Both players have struggled to meet expectations over the past couple of years and could benefit from the change of scenery, but Galchenyuk has a higher ceiling. He’s got boatloads of potential and will have more of a chance to play center and develop his all-around game in Arizona, and that could bring great results.

The Yotes also landed Vinnie Hinostroza from Chicago. The 24-year-old forward is a bit undersized and he hasn’t put up gaudy numbers, but he’s young and he has the potential to be somewhat of a breakout performer if he gets opportunity to spread his wings a bit. Arizona also got depth scoring help in Michael Grabner, who has potted 27 goals in each of the past two seasons.

The Coyotes posted a record of 20-14-7 in 2018 after a historically bad beginning of the season that included 11 losses in a row to start.

With the additions of Galchenyuk and Grabner, the Coyotes won’t be entirely reliant on the scoring of Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan to carry the load for forwards on the top two lines. Keller had 65 points last season, Stepan had 56 and Max Domi was the third-highest scoring forward at 45. Galchenyuk had 51 points for Montreal last season and Grabner posted 36 with New York, 27 of those points being goals.

Not mentioned in the post is also the in-season re-signing of goaltender Antti Raanta, who was one of the best goalies in the NHL when healthy. His 2.24 goals against average tied for the second-best mark in the league.

Raanta will have continuity in front of him defensively.

With Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson signing extensions and Kevin Connauton re-signed, the three join Jakob Chychrun, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers as the returning six defensemen for Rick Tocchet’s club.