GLENDALE – Alex Goligoski’s visit with the Coyotes on Monday was a quick one, but it was all he needed in order to commit to the team for the next five seasons.
“I wanted to be part of a team that’s going to grow and has pieces in place that can grow quickly,” Goligoski said Wednesday, after singing a lengthy contract with Arizona. “It just feels like they have things headed in the right direction.”
Goligoski, 30, and his wife flew to the Valley on Monday. Head Coach Dave Tippett picked them up at the airport and drove them to Gila River Arena. Once there, Tippett and General Manager John Chayka outlined how the Coyotes planned to move forward and informed the veteran defenseman that he would be a key cog should he decide to come aboard. Later, after a tour of the arena, Goligoski chatted with captain Shane Doan at dinner about playing for and living in Arizona. The Goligoskis left town early Tuesday.
Goligoski said his decision to sign with the team came soon after their departure and was a no-brainer.
“It felt right and it felt like home,” Goligoski said. “They have this young core and guys still coming that are high-end players, and they’re all kind of the same age. They’re a young team but they’re going to grow quick... There’s just a lot to like. I could have gone out and seen what else is out there (in free agency), but for me it was more why would I do that, everything is all right, and I’m excited about it, so let’s make it happen. It was an easy decision for us. Everything happened really quick and I’m thrilled.”
The Coyotes acquired the negotiating rights to Goligoski from the Dallas Stars last week in exchange for a fifth-round pick (128th overall) in this weekend’s draft. With those rights, Arizona was the only team that could have signed him before July 1.
“This was a calculated risk,” Chayka said. “It’s a huge step forward for our organization. Alex was going to have a very competitive market out there for him if he decided to go to (free agency on) July 1.”
The Coyotes love Goligoski’s game and his durability. He has notched at least 30 points in each of the past six full seasons, and has missed just two games in the past three seasons. They also like his leadership skills.
“He could help a lot of our players,” Chayka said. “…I was extremely impressed with Alex’s demeanor and his character and leadership qualities that he displayed in a very short time (on Monday). He’s a guy that’s basically no maintenance and a very strong professional, and a guy that’s really going to support our growth. That was a big part of giving him a long-term deal.”
Chayka, whose background is in analytics, said Goligoski plays an ideal game for today’s NHL.
“When he’s on the ice his team performs better,” Chayka said. “He plays up against top competition and is able to suppress the offensive ability of the other team. He’s a good puck mover and he makes good first passes to the forwards that allow him to be a catalyst for offense. And with our young group of forwards, his ability to transition the puck and play strong defensively, we think is going to support our group or players.”
Goligoski has played 562 NHL games for Pittsburgh, which drafted him 61st overall in 2004, and Dallas.
“He went to Pittsburgh when they weren’t a top team necessarily and (were) a team on the rise, and he helped them get to the Stanley Cup,” Chayka said. “Then he went into Dallas when they were a team that was not so great but on the rise, and he was a part of getting them to the next level. That’s kind of our expectation of him in the future.”
Goligoski is excited to play for Tippett.
“I’ve played against his teams enough to know that he gets the most out of his players,” Goligoski said. “His style is about accountability, and he gives his players freedom within a structure. On top of that, I’ve heard nothing but good things from his former players and I’ve talked to a lot of people. So I’m excited to play under him and I’m excited to get going.”
Goligoski is a left-handed defenseman but has played both sides in his career. Tippett likely will pair him with Michael Stone, but he could also pair him with Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Connor Murphy.
“Wherever they want to put me is fine,” Goligoski said. “We’ll figure it out. Any of those guys would be a pleasure to play with. I could learn from them and hopefully teach them a few things, too.”