It’s been a busy week for the Arizona Coyotes.
Less than an hour after acquiring veteran defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Blackhawks, the Coyotes made an even bigger move, landing center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh-overall pick in Friday’s draft.
This is another significant shift for the Coyotes, who fired longtime head coach Dave Tippet late Thursday night after parting ways with franchise cornerstones Shane Doan and Mike Smith over the past week.
The bold move fills two big holes for the Coyotes, giving the team a reliable top-two center and replacing Smith’s void in the crease.
Stepan has been a model of consistency since breaking into the NHL, putting up 50-plus points in each of the last four seasons, including 55 (17-38) in 81 games last season. The 27-year-old was a fixture on the power play and penalty kill and finished second among Rangers forwards in ice time (18:49) last season.
Raanta has been one of the best backups in the league the last two years. Like Cam Talbot before him, the 28-year-old seems ready to take the reins as a starter. He posted a crisp 2.27 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 29 games last season after posting similar numbers the year before. Raanta is slated to become a unrestricted free agent next summer.
Friday’s blockbuster didn’t come cheap for the Coyotes, however.
Anthony DeAngelo, taken 19th overall by the Lightning in 2014, is a highly-skilled defenseman who put up five goals and 14 points in 39 games with the Coyotes last season, his first in the NHL. The 21-year-old was traded at the same time last year when the Lightning shipped him to Arizona for the 37th pick in the 2016 draft. He has two years remaining on his entry-level contract. Then of course there’s the seventh overall pick, which should net the Rangers a quality prospect.
The Rangers also get significant cap relief in this deal by shedding Stepan’s bloated contract, which carries a $6.5 million cap hit over the next four years. They now have around $20M in cap space to upgrade their roster through trades and free agency (cough, cough, Kevin Shattenkirk).
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