GLENDALE - The Coyotes added defenseman Jason Demers to the mix on Sunday via a one-for-one trade the sent forward Jamie McGinn to the Florida Panthers after one disappointing season in Arizona.
"We think we are a better team today than we were yesterday," Coyotes General Manager John Chayka said after acquiring Demers, a 29-year-old with four years left on a contract he signed last summer. "We've got a guy who's here for four years that's a top-four, right-shot defenseman that can play 20 minutes and play special teams. We're excited to add him to our group. We think we've got a real strong group of defensemen now."
Demers has played 504 NHL games, including a career-high 81 in 2016-17 with Florida. He notched nine goals and 19 assists last season, his first with the Panthers. He played for San Jose and Dallas before that.
"I thought I did a great job of penalty killing last year, but I've got to translate that to 5-on-5," Demers said. "I expect big things of myself and I'm excited to come to Arizona."
Demers, a seventh-round draft pick in 2008, is expected to fly to Arizona on Monday and first skate with the team on Wednesday after the team takes a day off on Tuesday. He will wear sweater No. 55.
Demers likely will slide into Arizona's second defensive pairing along with Alex Goligoski, with whom he played for Dallas from 2014-16. They rarely skated as a pair with the Stars, but still became friends.
"I'm excited (to play) with Goose," Demers said. "We had good chemistry together and he's a great guy. We talk frequently in the summer … and I've already talked to him at length (about the trade) and he's excited and I'm excited to come. Wherever I fit on the depth chart, I'm happy. I want to come and contribute. I like where the team is going, and especially where the defensive corps is going. It's great to be a part of it."
Sunday's trade also reunites Demers with new Coyotes Assistant Coach Scott Allen, who ran Florida's second-ranked penalty-killing unit last season.
"He brought a great penalty-kill structure to us," Demers said. "I had a great relationship with Scotty and I think he's a very smart coach and he's hungry. He expects a lot out of his defensemen, and it's fun when you have a coach that kind of demands a lot out of you but is easy to work with."
Demers also knows new teammates Anthony Duclair, Louis Domingue and Lawson Crouse. Ironically, he's good pals with McGinn; they broke into the NHL together with San Jose in 2009. The friends spoke Sunday after the trade. McGinn notched just 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 72 games with the Coyotes last season.
Chayka was asked if Sunday's trade was made because of the off-season injury to defenseman Jakob Chychrun that will sideline him indefinitely. He said Chychrun's uncertain status played only a small role in the transaction.
"That's a short-term thing and we're looking long-term here," Chayka said. "One of the things we've been looking to do for a while now is just balance out our left and right shots."
Head Coach Rick Tocchet said Demers will complement the group well.
"From watching film, he skates and when you can skate and make decisions, you can fit into this nicely," Tocchet said. "I want him to be that guy that can skate, and maybe he gets some power-play time for us. He's a right-handed shot, too. I like to even it out. I'm not a big fan of having all lefties."