Alex Goligoski (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Coyotes are taking a calculated risk, shipping a fifth-round pick to the Dallas Stars for the exclusive negotiating rights to defenseman Alex Goligoski. The 30-year-old defenseman is set to become a free agent, but the Coyotes are hoping to lock him up before July 1.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least, that’s the approach the Arizona Coyotes are taking when it comes to landing one of the off-seasons big free agent defensemen.
The Coyotes dealt a fifth-round pick in 2016 draft to the Dallas Stars Thursday afternoon for the negotiating rights to blueliner Alex Goligoski, who is set to become a free agent July 1. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the Coyotes don’t have a deal in place with Goligoski, who is coming off of a four-year, $18.4-million contract, but the hope is that GM John Chayka and staff can hammer something out with the 30-year-old and have him join their defense corps next season.
Goligoski was set to become one of the bigger fish in the free agent market, especially among defensemen. This past season, he scored five goals and 37 points for the high-flying Stars. What likely attracts the Coyotes most is that Goligoski can play big minutes against top competition and he’d be a strong addition to the top pairing. He averaged nearly 24 minutes per game for Dallas over the past three seasons.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the deal came about when the Stars decided they wouldn’t be able to agree to Goligoski’s asking price, thus shipping his negotiating rights, which Dallas exclusively holds, out of town to the Coyotes. The plan now, according to LeBrun, is for Goligoski to be flown to Arizona to meet with the team and staff, sell him on being a Coyote and hopefully discuss and come to terms on a new contract.
It’s a gamble, to be sure, as the Coyotes risk losing the draft pick for nothing, but it’s one that Arizona can afford. The Coyotes have nearly $37 million in cap space for 2016-17 and a dire need for help on defense. Currently, the only NHL defensemen under contract are Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek, while Chris Pronger is locked up for another year but only to prop up the Coyotes and help them meet the salary floor.
Even with the fifth-round pick heading the Stars’ way, the Coyotes still have five selections in the first three rounds of the draft. Generally speaking, it’s those three rounds in which a team has a successful or unsuccessful draft, so Arizona still has a significant chance at landing a young, talented player.
Think of it this way: if the Coyotes can convince Goligoski that Arizona is the place for him, they will have landed one of the three or four legitimate top-four rearguards available in the free agent pool for the cost of a fifth-round pick. That’s a clever piece of work.