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NHL free agency: Coyotes UFAs Panik, Pickard sign elsewhere

Richard Panik #14 of the Arizona Coyotes reacts after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 8, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 5-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As NHL free agency got underway on Monday morning at 9 a.m. Arizona time, the Coyotes seemed like they’d be relatively quiet.

That’s because by trading for forwards Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg last week, Arizona GM John Chayka made a pair of moves to improve the roster before free agency even began. It sounded on Saturday like Chayka felt they had accomplished what they wanted to this offseason.

“Between Carl [Soderberg] and Phil, we wanted to make at least one or two moves up front to improve our group. We feel like we’ve done it,” Chayka said. “A lot of our success will depend on our players that we’ve got and we need guys to have career years and step up and if we can do that, we’re really excited about what this group can do.”

If center Barrett Hayton makes the team as a rookie, the Coyotes would have 22 players in their organization that are fairly safe bets to make the 23-man roster. Therefore, there’s likely one roster spot available:

FORWARDS (13): Lawson Crouse, Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer, Conor Garland, Kessel, Michael Grabner, Hayton, Vinnie Hinostroza, Clayton Keller, Brad Richardson, Nick Schmaltz, Soderberg, Derek Stepan

DEFENSEMEN (7): Jakob Chychrun, Jason Demers, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Ilya Lyubushkin, Jordan Oesterle

GOALTENDERS (2): Darcy Kuemper, Antti Raanta 

Josh Archibald and Nick Cousins are unrestricted free agents as of Monday, and Chayka said before the draft that those players would test the market but could return if there was a fit there for both sides. It wasn’t clear at the start of free agency whether that had changed.

Here’s what else is going on with Arizona at the start of NHL free agency:

COYOTES RE-SIGN RFA LAWSON CROUSE

The Arizona Coyotes announced Tuesday that Crouse would return on a three-year deal. The RFA was tendered a qualifying offer, and the two sides got a deal done on the second day of free agency.

Crouse is going into his fourth NHL season and set career highs last year in basically every category. He led Arizona in both hits and penalty minutes but also had 11 goals and 25 points.

COYOTES SIGN 3 PLAYERS TO 2-WAY DEALS

The Coyotes added some depth to their organization Monday afternoon by signing three players to two-way contracts.

Arizona signed forward Andy Miele and defenseman Aaron Ness to two-year, two-way contracts. They signed forward Beau Bennett to a one-year, two-way contract. They collectively have 262 games of NHL experience. More about those signings can be found here.

IVAN PROSVETOV SIGNS ELC

Coyotes goaltending prospect Ivan Prosvetov signed a three-year entry-level contract, the team announced.

Prosvetov was a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft and put up a .910 save percentage and 2.94 goals against average in 54 games of his first season playing OHL hockey for the Saginaw Spirit. He also have a .930 save percentage in 12 playoff games.

RICHARD PANIK TO WASHINGTON

Coyotes UFA Richard Panik officially signed with Washington on Monday morning on a four-year, $11 million deal ($2.75M AAV), the team announced.

Panik played two seasons for the Coyotes after coming over in the Anthony Duclair trade in January of 2018. The 28-year-old right wing scored 14 goals with 19 assists for 33 points in 75 games, averaging 16:37 time on ice as he played up and down the lineup. The former 22-goal scorer and the Coyotes part ways, and he’ll join a Capitals team that has some firepower in its forward group.

CALVIN PICKARD TO DETROIT

Free agent goaltender Calvin Pickard received kind words from his coach and teammates toward the end of last season for being a good soldier, despite sitting on the bench for most of the late-season playoff push. He came over to the Coyotes to add depth following some injuries, but starter Darcy Kuemper got practically all of the playing time.

After appearing in six games (four starts) for Arizona and 17 games total between the Coyotes and Flyers last year, Pickard will get the chance to improve on his .875 save percentage from last season as he signs with the Red Wings.

TSN’s Frank Saravalli reported Sunday that Pickard, who officially signed a two-year deal in Detroit on Monday, will compete with Jonathan Bernier in camp to be the backup to Jimmy Howard.

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