It seems that the risks taken by Florida Panthers general manager Tom Rowe and the Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka have paid off. The Panthers have managed to sign up Keith Yandle to a seven-year contract and the Coyotes have Alex Goligoski sealed for five seasons.
Keith Yandle to the Panthers
With Florida being successful in their negotiations with Yandle, the New York Rangers will now also receive their formerly conditional 2017 4th Round pick – along with the 2016 6th Round pick already acquired from the trade. This was a strong move by the Florida Panthers. The team was looking to improve on last year’s stellar regular season and a decent playoff appearance. They commenced by trading big defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Vancouver Canucks, which left a gap in their defense. By bringing in Keith Yandle the Panthers have managed to upgrade their defense, keep it strong on the back-end, and add another blue-line threat. Yandle’s five goals and 47 points led Rangers defensemen in points, he also joint-led the team in powerplay points (22) and attempted the most blocks on shots (122). The defenseman also played all 82 games of the regular season.
Keith Yandle’s primary game is to be an effective puck mover and create chances in the offensive zone, but his defensive play is also very strong. Bringing in the offensive defenseman will make the Panthers into even more of a force in the regular season, and should be that extra piece that they need to become real playoff contenders. General Fanager shows that Keith Yandle’s seven-year contract will see him take $6.35 million in salary every year, through to the end of the 2022-23 season – when Yandle will be 36-years-old – and his cap hit will also be $6.35 million.
Alex Goligoski to the Coyotes
The youngest general manager in the NHL, John Chayka, has managed to pull in who would be one of the best available defensemen on the free agency before the market’s even opened. Prior to securing Alex Goligoski the Arizona Coyotes had just two defensemen left on their books, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek. Whilst they can, and probably will re-sign a lot of those who are currently restricted free agents, bringing in a player of Alex Goligoski’s caliber has already enhanced their defensive lines ten-fold. To acquire the early, and now successful, negotiation rights, the Yotes just had to give Dallas a 2016 5th Round pick. Given the stability and might of Arizona’s prospect pool this was a very cheap price to pay – then there are the other eight picks that they have in this year’s draft anyway. Goligoski will play a key role as a mentor to Arizona’s young and developing team, whilst also being a strong figure on the ice.
Per General Fanager, Goligoski signed a five-year deal, keeping him in The Desert until the end of the 2020-21 season when he will be 35-years-old, which will hit the Arizona cap for $5.475 million a season. The defenseman’s salary will fluctuate between $6.1 million and $4 million between the seasons contracted.
Did they need to spend the picks?
Apart from the mega highlight free agent of Steven Stamkos this year’s market is a little sparse, and both the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes have done well to pull in two of the best defensive free agents before letting others have a go. Both moves seriously strengthen their new team’s defensive lines, along with enhancing the ongoing development of each club.