GLENDALE – The Coyotes inked power forward Jamie McGinn on Friday, the first day of the National Hockey League’s free-agent signing period.
The move was just one of several Arizona made to enhance its depth at the NHL and American Hockey League levels.
“I don’t think you’re ever looking to build your team through free agency,” General Manager John Chayka said. “I think you’re looking to acquire some players that can support your growth and hopefully get you to that next level. We were able to acquire some players that fit the roles and the attributes that we set out to fit in those specific areas of our team. Depth was really what we were looking for today.”
|Jamie McGinn. Photo by Getty Images. |
The Coyotes invited McGinn to Arizona for a visit on Wednesday, and he and his girlfriend made the trip. He said Chayka, Head Coach Dave Tippett and others welcomed them with open arms and that the visit was a first-class experience.
“I wanted to feel wanted and appreciated, and they did that right from the start,” McGinn said. “I’m super excited to start this journey with the Coyotes. They’re looking for a big, physical guy who’s a two-way forward who can play on the PP and who’s responsible and who’s a leader. I think that fits my game pretty well. That’s what I try to do.”
McGinn scored 22 goals with Buffalo and Anaheim last season, his ninth in the NHL. He is hoping to score many more over his next three seasons with the Coyotes.
“I think I can surpass that,” McGinn said. “If I find 22 goals acceptable that means I’m not going to be working hard to get past that. I want to continue to strive to get better. Arizona is a great opportunity for me to succeed, but also to help the team and have the team succeed. I always want to set my goals high and try to surpass them every year.”
McGinn’s brother Tye played 18 games for the Coyotes at the end of the 2014-15 season. Jamie said Tye was the first person he reached out to for advice once the Coyotes expressed interest, and Tye quickly gave thumbs up to Arizona, Tippett and captain Shane Doan.
Chayka said McGinn fills a need.
“We wanted to add some weight (and) some physicality to our lineup. He certainly brings that,” Chayka said. “From an analytical perspective, he’s not exactly a possession driving player, but he brings something to the table that we need and therefore he makes our entire group better as a result.”
Also on Friday, the Coyotes signed forward Ryan White to a one-year contract.
“Ryan is a feisty forward who plays with an edge,” Chayka said. “He is a versatile player who will upgrade a lot of areas for our team.”
|Ryan White. Photo by Getty Images. |
Like McGinn, White, 28, is looking to provide some leadership to Arizona’s young roster of players. And bring some attitude.
“I think my biggest attribute is my competitiveness,” White said. “I try to impose my will on the other team and try to out-compete them and win. Some nights that might come out as feistiness, but really it’s just me trying to be hard to play against. That’s the way I was brought up to play and the way that I’ve been successful.”
White is not sure exactly where he'll fit into the Coyotes lineup, but he’s OK with that for now.
“Coming into camp I’m just going to go in there and try to earn a job and hope for the best,” White said. “I think I can play up and down the lineup.”
In other moves, the Coyotes signed defensemen Kevin Connauton and Klas Dahlbeck, both of whom played for Arizona last season but became free agents on Friday.
“I wanted to go back to Arizona so I’m thrilled to be able to say that I’m going to be there for the next two years,” said Connauton, whom the Coyotes claimed off waivers on Jan 13. “It’s an incredible group of guys in that locker room. They were very welcoming when I got there last season and I felt right at home pretty quickly. Beyond that, the coaching staff worked with me a lot and was really good to me and showed me a lot of opportunity. From top to bottom as an organization, it’s the place where I want to be.”
Connauton, 26, likes the direction in which the Coyotes appear headed.
“The new management team is making some strong moves and showing that they’ve got their eye on winning and making the playoffs and going from there,” Connauton said. “I think great things are just around the corner for this team and it’s something I definitely want to be part of it."
Connauton played with new Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski when both were with Dallas. They were rarely paired together, but Connauton is pleased Goligoski is now with the Coyotes.
He also is pleased by the amount of ice time he received last season with Arizona.
“The five-on-five system that we run and what the coaches expect out of our ‘D’ really favors my game,” Connauton said. “And I think I can chip in on special teams. It’s just a matter of where they see me fitting in and wherever that is I’ll do my best to make the most of that.”
Dahlbeck, 24, led Arizona and all NHL rookies with 178 hits last season, and finished fourth on the Coyotes with 76 blocked shots.
In moves designed to bolster the new AHL team in Tucson, the Coyotes also signed goalie Justin Peters, forwards Chris Mueller and Garret Ross, and defensemen Jared Tinordi and Jamie McBain to two-way contracts on Friday.
Chayka said more roster additions are likely via free agency and/or trades as the summer evolves.
“We’ve been pretty active and continue to be in hopes of making a move or two to improve our team,” Chayka said.