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GM John Chayka: Raanta likely out all year; Coyotes ‘hopeful’ on Hinostroza

(AP Photos)

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka had good news and bad news on Wednesday when he called into the Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

The bad news: the chances of starting goaltender Antti Raanta returning this season aren’t great.

“It’s probably more hopeful than realistic that he’s back at some point this year,” Chayka said. “So, he’s probably going to miss the rest of the year. He had a repair done, the repair was very well done. His long-term health is probably even better than what it could be if you tried to take a shortcut. Unfortunately that means for this year you’re losing your starting goalie.”

Chayka had said previously that the netminder got a procedure done and doctors found the structural damage to be worse than originally thought. That means a longer recovery from the injury and repair, and more time that Arizona will be without Raanta. If Raanta does miss the whole year, that means he’ll have played in only 59 of a possible 164 games in his first two seasons in Arizona.

Still, that’s more than he had played in his previous four seasons in the NHL combined, since his tenure with the Coyotes is the first time he’s been tabbed as a No. 1 goalie.

When asked previously about the notion that his goaltender was “injury prone,” Chayka was understanding but offered encouragement.

“Yeah, I mean look, I understand he’s had a few injuries since coming here. Again, previous to that, relatively few,” Chayka said on Dec. 9. “Even when he was playing over in Europe, playing heavy minutes and facing a lot of shots. I think this particular injury’s a bit of a fluke injury in the sense of how it occurred during the game, a bit of a weird scenario. Then obviously it’s a structural issue.

“You try to understand what you can control and what can’t you control in injuries. I think certainly this one’s unrelated to his previous injuries, and like I said the nature of it is structural. So I think when we talk about players’ ability to stay healthy, there’s just certain things that come into play in pro sports, and some things are unavoidable.”

At this point, it appears Darcy Kuemper and Adin Hill will take care of the goaltending duties in Raanta’s absence.

“You look across the league at teams that have lost their starting goalies, whether they’re good teams, spending the cap, veteran clubs, clubs that have won Stanley Cups or been in the playoffs recently, it’s a tough thing to deal with,” Chayka said. “We’re going through that right now.”

Meanwhile, forward Vinnie Hinostroza, who is currently out with a lower-body injury he suffered in Arizona’s game on Dec. 6 against Washington, skated Monday as did center Christian Dvorak, who is probably out longer-term. Chayka was asked how soon fans might see Hinostroza back in the lineup.

“Tough to say. Obviously we’ve got the break in the near future,” Chayka said, referring to the three-day Christmas break that spans from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, bookended by road games on either side. “He’s got an injury that’s just tough to come back from unless he’s 100 percent. … Obviously he’s a skater. You want to make sure he’s at 100 percent when he comes back and able to play his game.

“Hopeful it’s before the break but if not, hopefully soon after the break.”

Hinostroza is in his first season with the Coyotes after coming over in a trade from the Blackhawks this offseason. He has four goals and eight assists in 27 games and averages 14:36 time on ice each night.

“He’s a good player for us,” Chayka said. “He creates a lot of offense. He pushes the pace. He’s a guy that can help drive a line. We need him, for sure.

“It seems like even though we have some man games lost, it’s the key positions, it’s those premium positions up the middle. Goalies, defense, right shot defense and centermen. It hurts your ability to be competitive every single night. But at the same time, it’s opportunity for some other guys.”

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