Coyotes sign veteran defenseman Goligoski
PHOENIX — The Arizona Coyotes made their first big move of the summer, signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a five-year, $27.375 million dollar contract Wednesday.
The signing follows the Coyotes’ acquisition of Goligoski’s negotiating rights on June 16 from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The trade gave the Coyotes rights to negotiate a new contract for Goligoski before he would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
This is also the first major move made by John Chayka since he was named general manager on May 5.
“Hopefully it’s the first domino in a series of moves that puts us in a better spot,” Chayka said on a conference call.
Goligoski was a second-round draft pick (61st overall) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2004 NHL Draft. He spent the last five seasons in Dallas and was an integral part of the Stars’ rise from bottom dwellers to the top of their conference. The team led the Western Conference last season with 109 points.
Goligoski thinks the Coyotes could be on a similar trajectory.
“It just feels like they have things going in the right direction,” Goligoski said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.
“They have a young team but they’ll grow quick. There’s just a lot to like.”
One of the reasons Chayka acquired the rights to the 30-year-old defenseman is the veteran leadership Goligoski brings to a young blue line that includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Murphy and Michael Stone, all of whom are under the age of 27.
“Any of those guys would be a pleasure to play with. Hopefully I can learn a few things from those guys and maybe I can teach them a few things too,” Goligoski said.
Last season the Coyotes were 24th in the NHL in goals scored (209), 25th in goals allowed (246), and 27th in goal differential (-36). Goligoski was a plus-21 last season with the Stars, ranking 17th among all skaters and 7th among defensemen.
“He has a history of playing with some of the elite puck-moving offensive defenseman in the league. He’s played with some of the best shutdown players in the world as well,” Chayka said.
Goligoski and Ekman-Larsson are both puck-moving defensemen. It is not yet clear if the two will play alongside each other on the top defensive pairing or if Goligoski will be deployed in other ways.
“That was a big part of the decision, to get a guy that has the type of versatility to give you a lot of options,” Chayka said.
“Wherever they want me to play is fine. We’ll figure it out,” Goligoski said.