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The Arizona Coyotes will have nine days to sell defenseman Alex Goligoski on what they’re building in the desert, before he can flee.
General manager/wunderkind John Chayka announced that the team has traded the 128th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, a fifth-rounder, for the negotiating rights to the Dallas Stars defenseman, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Goligoski, 30, played in all 82 games for the Stars, recording 5 goals and 32 assists and was a plus-21. Goligoski was drafted by the Penguins in the second round (61st overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
He had a 53.73 Corsi percentage (score and venue adjusted) for the Stars at 5-on-5, third best among defensemen.
It wasn’t an easy decision for the Stars to part with him, but puck-moving defensemen don’t come cheap. And, as Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News noted, there was the expectation that Dallas would end up paying more for a defenseman playing less:
“I think Goligoski. He’s been a great soldier, very durable, smart, a great example for teammates. But I don’t think you can pay him $5 million with the intention of scaling his minutes back to 17 or 18 a game. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
What’s interesting about this acquisition, from a Coyotes perspective, are analytics and partnerships.
Chayka has planted his flag in Arizona thanks to his analytics background. Goligoski was a strong possession driver for the Stars, but that’s sometimes difficult to parse out when the team as a whole can be that dominant in possession (as Dallas was this season).
But more interesting would be his role with the Coyotes. Does he anchor a second pairing? Or do Chayka and Tippett see him as a partner for Oliver Ekman-Larsson?
The Coyotes’ star defenseman prefers the left side, and Goligoski has performed well on the right side before. Ekman-Larsson partnered with Connor Murphy and Michael Stone mostly last season; Goligoski spent the vast majority of his time with young puck-mover John Klingberg, who certainly benefitted from the veteran’s presence.
This is a good gamble here from the Coyotes. If nothing else, they have an ice-time case and a financial one they can state here, if not necessarily the immediate chance at a Cup other places could offer.
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