On Thursday, June 16th the Arizona Coyotes acquired the negotiation rights for defenseman Alex Goligoski in exchange for a fifth round pick. With 5th rounders rarely making the NHL the move was a low risk, high reward move if the team could sign Goligoski.
That risk paid off with Goligoski agreeing to a five-year, approximately $27.475 million deal, according to two separate reports. [UPDATE 6:58 AM: TSN Bob McKenzie has the contract value at $27.475 million.]
The five year term was around what most people were anticipating and was put out by Bob McKenzie who said that Goligoski's recent trip to Arizona went well. Goligoski now is tied with Oliver Ekman-Larsson for the second highest paid player on the team in 2016-17, behind only Mike Smith.
Goligoski brings a veteran presence to the Coyotes' extremely young defensive group. As of right now only Goligoski and Zbynek Michalek are over 30 years old, and over half of the team's defenseman are under 26.
We've brought up before that with Goligoski the Coyotes' defense is greatly improved. The 5'11" D-man will hopefully be just what the team needs to improve their second pairing. Goligoski finished last season 5-32-37, which is more points than every other Coyotes defenseman not named Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Looking at his past five years suggests that those number should hold steady for his time with the Desert Dogs, he isn't likely to score a lot of goals but he is going to get plenty of assists.
He is considered top in this summer's free agent class in playmaking, production and generating shots. He should improve the Coyotes' terrible possession numbers, which will need a boost considering that every team that has won the Stanley Cup in the last five years was in the top ten in shots on goal percentage when the score was within one. In crunch time, the teams that can take shots tend to be the ones that go far. And that's exactly what Goligoski can do.
The numbers show that we shouldn't expect a lot of goals, and the shot suppression isn't great. But what we should see is an increase in shot generation from Goligoski getting the puck out to the likes of Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Dylan Strome.
Depending on how the rest of the offseason goes, the likely spot for Goligoski is on the second pairing with one of Michael Stone or Connor Murphy, while simultaneously giving Goligoski some time on the first unit with Oliver Ekman-Larsson as they used to do with Keith Yandle.
Speaking of Yandle, Goligoski's contract is roughly equal to the five-year $26.25 million deal Yandle inked with the Coyotes back in 2011. From then until this summer, Yandle recorded 184 points in time split between the Coyotes and New York Rangers. In that same span, Goligoski recorded 172.
With Goligoski's contract, the Coyotes are now just a little below $13 million away from the floor, with Tobias Rieder, Michael Stone, Connor Murphy, and possibly Klas Dahlbeck still in need of contracts. And all of this assumes Arizona is done adding pieces, thought the Coyotes have been linked to trade rumors surrounding right-handed shots like Jacob Trouba and Kevin Shattenkirk in recent days.
Goligoski should provide an immediate offensive jolt to a blueline that could really use it. Upgrading the defense is the first step towards making the Arizona Coyotes more competitive in the Western Conference, and signing Goligoski is a good start.