Coyotes acquire Demers from Panthers for McGinn

Sep 17, 2017, 12:59 PM | Updated: 4:18 pm
Arizona Coyotes left wing Max Domi (16) and Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers (55) fight for...
Arizona Coyotes left wing Max Domi (16) and Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers (55) fight for the puck as goalie James Reimer (34) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Sunrise, Fla. Florida Panthers won 3-1. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
(AP Photo/Terry Renna)

The Coyotes bolstered their depth on defense by trading forward Jamie McGinn to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Jason Demers on Sunday. The Panthers retained 12.5 percent of Demers’ salary.

Demers, a right-handed shot and more of a two-way defenseman, could play with former Dallas teammate Alex Goligoski on the second defense pairing behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but coach Rick Tocchet has not finalized his pairings yet.

“Any time you can deal from an area of surplus and add to an area of deficit that’s what you’re trying to do with a trade,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “From our perspective, right-shot defensemen are at a premium. They’re hard guys to find, especially guys who can play 20 minutes a night and play special teams.”

Demers, 29, spent his first six years in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks and played for the Dallas Stars from 2014-16. He signed a five-year, $22.5 million, free-agent contract with Florida last summer. In 81 games for the Panthers last season, he had nine goals, 19 assists and he averaged 19:36 of ice time. Demers had the sense all along that the Panthers were looking to move him this summer.

“I kind of knew something was coming but I tried to put it out of my head. It’s something I can’t really control,” Demers said. “I was in camp, going about my business so it kind of caught me off guard.

“You’d have to ask them. It could be I just didn’t fit in their plans or it could have been a money issue on the business side. Whatever it was, I just don’t think I fit in their plans so no animosity toward them or anything like that. I’m happy to be in Arizona.”

Demers didn’t play much with Goligoski during their two seasons together in Dallas, but the two are friends and Demers also played for new Coyotes assistant coach Scott Allen last season in Florida.

“We had a few great shifts together,” Demers joked of his time with Goligoski. “I’m excited to come back with Goose. We had good chemistry together and he’s a great guy. We talked frequently in the summer.”

The Demers acquisition gives the Coyotes better depth, with Luke Schenn, Adam Clendening and Kevin Connauton now likely vying for third-pairing minutes. Demers’ arrival also likely ends the bids by Kyle Wood and Andrew Campbell to make the roster out of training camp, unless the Coyotes make another move.

McGinn, 29, had nine goals and added eight assists for the Coyotes in the first season of a three-year, $10 million deal last season that was widely viewed as a disappointment.

“It was a year that I kind of want to forget,” said McGinn, who lost between five and eight pounds this summer by altering his diet dramatically. “John and I had some goals to reach this summer and I worked hard.

“I don’t know what happened last year. It could have went a lot better but I just didn’t get the ice time; didn’t get an opportunity. It was a very frustrating year for me.”

McGinn averaged 13:10 of ice time last season. Only Ryan White, Lawson Crouse and Peter Holland averaged less among regular forwards.

McGinn expected to shift to the right side, but with him gone, the Coyotes may be thinking about moving Clayton Keller to the right side. That would leave Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Jordan Martinook and Crouse on the left side, with Anthony Duclair, Tobias Rieder, Keller and Christian Fischer on the right side.

Keller has played the right side the least of the three forwards positions, but Chayka is not concerned about that possible switch.

“With any guy that has got his level of talent, playing the off-side can be an advantage,” Chayka said. “He’s a playmaker so being on his forehand allows him to cut to the middle on offense. His big role model is Patrick Kane who plays the off-wing.”

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