Coyotes acquire negotiating rights to UFA defenseman Alex Goligoski

Jun 16, 2016, 2:52 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2016, 11:19 am

Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) controls the puck away from Anaheim Ducks right wing Ch...

Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) controls the puck away from Anaheim Ducks right wing Chris Stewart (29) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, April 3, 2016. The Ducks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Coyotes’ long-anticipated summer of activity began on Thursday when Arizona acquired the negotiating rights to unrestricted free agent defenseman Alex Goligoski, 30, who was expected to be in great demand this summer.

The Coyotes sent a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft (128th overall) to acquire those rights. Coyotes general manager John Chayka said the team has an exclusive negotiating window until June 25 to talk to Goligoski. Arizona is the only team that can sign him before July 1.

“He was the first domino to fall in what we hope are a series of coordinated moves to help our team,” Chayka said, expressing confidence in the team’s ability to sign Goligoski before he becomes a free agent on July 1. “In our position, we thought it was worth a fifth-round pick to have that window. It’s more about the confidence in what we have to sell here with a team that is young and poised to break out.”

Pittsburgh selected Goligoski in the second round (61st overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He had 37 points (5-32) in 82 games with Dallas in 2015-16 while playing on the top pairing with John Klingberg. He had seven points (4-3) in 13 playoff games this spring, and has 277 career regular-season points (55-222) in 562 career games with Pittsburgh and Dallas. The Stars won the Central Division and finished with the second most points in the NHL. They lost in the second round to St Louis while playing without star center Tyler Seguin.

“We like everything about him,” Chayka said of Goligoski. “He’s a complete player. The game is trending exactly in his direction. He’s a transitional D. He’s a very strong defender but that doesn’t mean he spends all his time defending because he’s a good skater and puck mover that will get the puck up to our forwards, which is exactly what we need.”

Goligoski is a left-handed shot and Chayka said the Coyotes like to have a left-right split on their defensive pairings so, if signed, Goligoski would play on the team’s second pairing behind left-handed Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Connor Murphy is likely to play the right side on one of those two pairings so the Coyotes could still be in the market for another right-handed defenseman.

“This is move No. 1 and we hope to have coordinated moves in addition,” Chayka said.

Among the right-handed defensemen that sources say could be trade targets for the Coyotes are: Kevin Shattenkirk (under contract for one more year in St. Louis), Jacob Trouba (RFA, Winnipeg) and Adam Larsson (under contract for five more years in New Jersey).

It’s unclear what sort of term and average annual return Goligoski is seeking, but with a healthy market for his services, it would likely be at least $5 million and could be in excess of $6 million per season. He is entering the final two weeks of a four-year, $18.4 million contract.

Chayka said he has already reached out to Goligoski and expects to talk soon with Goligoski’s agent, Ben Hankinson, with Octagon Athlete Representation. Goligoski is expected to visit the Coyotes early next week. A call to Hankinson was not immediately returned.

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