GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes traded for the rights to negotiate with a player who had them on his no-trade list just a year ago.
It was a gamble, but the Coyotes made it work, convincing defenceman Alex Goligoski of the bright future in the Valley of the Sun.
“It was almost immediate,” Goligoski said Wednesday after signing a five-year, $27.375 million deal with the Coyotes. “It felt right and it felt like home.”
Goligoski played all 82 games for Dallas last season, finishing with five goals and 32 assists. He added four more goals and three assists in 13 post-season games.
With his contract set to expire, he was expected to be one of the most sought-after free agent defencemen when free agency started on July 1. The Coyotes decided to get a jump on the process, trading a 2016 fifth-round draft pick to Dallas last week for a chance to negotiate a deal with him.
Arizona made its short deal-making window count, flying Goligoski out for a two-day trip to Arizona last week that sealed the deal.
“This was a calculated risk,” John Chayka said after his first big move as Arizona’s new GM. “It’s a huge step forward for our organization. Alex was going to have a very competitive market out there for him if he decided to go to July 1.”
The 30-year-old Goligoski has been a steady defenceman in eight NHL seasons with Pittsburgh and Dallas, amassing 55 goals and 222 assists in 562 career NHL games. He won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and last season was second on the Stars in plus/minus at plus-21.
The Coyotes became an exciting offensive team with the additions of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, but struggled on the defensive end to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Though a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Goligoski should give them a boost as a top-4 defenceman.
“If we feel we have something to sell here then we make the move. If we don’t we don’t make the move,” Chayka said. “We felt we had something to sell. We’re pleased we’re able to have Alex agree that it’s a young and upcoming team with a chance to win in the near future.”
That chance to grow is what drew Goligoski to the desert. He likely would have made more money on the open market, but the chance to be a part of something that already has a good, young foundation was too good to pass up.
“Going into this whole process, it was about finding a good fit,” he said. “Knowing it was going to be somewhere for multiple years, I wanted to be in a place that could grow. They have the pieces that can grow quickly, so it kind of checked all the boxes for me.”