The Arizona Coyotes have some work to do to convince Alex Goligoski that Arizona is the right place for him. But General Manager John Chayka gave them a couple of weeks' head start.
In some ways, the decision by Chayka to trade a 5th round pick in this year's draft for the negotiating rights to Goligoski was a puzzling one; the Dallas Stars' defenseman is arguably the best defenseman hitting unrestricted free agency this summer in a crop that is not particularly impressive. Why would Goligoski sign what will likely be his last major contract before even testing the waters?
But Goligoski is worth the gamble. Getting a chance to wow him before anybody else can cost Arizona relatively nothing. And if he does sign here, the expense would be worth it.
Getting to Know Alex Goligoski
Goligoski is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and just completed his 9th campaign in the NHL, split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Dallas Stars.
Possibly due to his time in Dallas, and possibly due to the presence of dynamic defensemen like Kris Letang and John Klingberg on the teams he played for, but Goligoski has gone relatively unheralded despite excellent production numbers. Last season, he had five goals and thirty-two assists while missing zero games, and four goals and three assists in thirteen playoff appearances.
Among his peers, Goligoski does one thing exceptionally well: get his teammates the puck.
His shot suppression rates are not spectacular, nor are his Goals/60 totals. But Goligoski is excellent at setting his teammates up to score, and is very good at creating shot attempts, an area the Coyotes struggled mightily with last year.
Goligoski would shore up Arizona's defense immediately, while adding another dynamic defenseman on the power play. And along with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, he would be a good mentor to what GM Chayka referred to as "the new age of defense". With players like Olli Juolevi, Jakob Chychrun, and Jake Bean potentially on the horizon for the Coyotes, having two veteran puck-moving defensemen would do a lot for what is already a young defensive crew.
Goligoski's signing is not a for-sure thing. He averaged $4.6 million per year in salary, so even matching that would make Goligoski the third most expensive player on the roster behind OEL and Mike Smith.
Yet Keith Yandle's departure left a hole on Arizona's power play, and increased the pressure on Michael Stone and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to produce at even-strength. Even with the occasional frustrating turnover, Goligoski would be a net positive for a young and fast team like the Coyotes. It will be up to John Chayka and Co. to get him signed.