At the beginning of last season, people predicting the Coyotes as a playoff team cited Alex Goligoski as one of the main reasons why.
The offensively-capable defenseman was coming off one of his career-best seasons with Dallas, where he collected 37 points and posted an eye-catching +21 plus/minus.
Fast forward to the end of the 2017 season, and many people are blaming the veteran blue liner as one of the chief reasons for the team’s third-bottom finish in the Western Conference.
A glance at Goligoski’s stat line, however, paints a different picture. In his debut season with Arizona, Goligoski’s numbers were virtually the same as his previous two years in Dallas.
A Statistical Look
In 2016-17, Goligoski scored six goals (his most since 13-14), 30 assists, and 36 points, just one less than his output in 2015-16 and the same as his 2014-15 campaign. While he did limp in with a career-worst -9, there is something to be said about his surrounding cast in the desert compared to with the Stars. Considering the Coyotes dearth of quality at the center-ice position, Goligoski and company were often left vulnerable on the blue line.
Goligoski went from playing behind the likes of Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Jamie Benn to covering for rookies and waiver claims. He didn’t miss a game for the second straight year, and actually increased his number of power play points from 5 in 2015-16 to 8 last year. His relative Corsi only decreased slightly, dropping to a 1.2 from a 1.4 two years ago, yet he had the second highest time on ice average on the team.
Arguably, Goligoski’s biggest flaw is that he is a left-handed shot, rendering him incapable of pairing with fellow lefty Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the Coyotes top D-pairing, and unable to fill the biggest hole in the defensive corps.
Say What You Will, But...
While the first season of his five-year contract might have felt a bit underwhelming, Goligoski’s stats came in right where the team was probably projecting.
His critics will claim he failed to influence games the way a $5 million per year defenseman should, but again, it’s hard to contribute in the offensive zone when your team is stuck in their own third of the ice most of the night.
If the Coyotes sort out their center-ice rotation next year, Goligoski could be one of the biggest benefactors. Until then, a 30-point, 23 minute per night defenseman is still a high-quality cog in any NHL team.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Alex Goligoski?
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