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Coyotes Expect Oesterle to Play 'Important Role'

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Perhaps lost in the shuffle of Arizona's recent trade with Chicago is the acquisition of emerging defenseman Jordan Oesterle.

The Coyotes made headlines last week by taking on Marian Hossa's hefty contract and by securing flashy forward Vinnie Hinostroza in a deal with the Blackhawks. But they also quietly landed Oesterle, who ranked second for Chicago in ice time per game (20:31) last season behind only Duncan Keith.

"We think Jordan will play an important role for our 'D' core," Coyotes General Manager John Chayka said. "He has versatility to play up and down the lineup and have a positive impact on the game."

Oesterle, 26, is expected to compete with several others to be Arizona's seventh defenseman. He'll enter training camp with confidence after playing a career-high 55 games last season, including a valuable stint as Chicago's top pair alongside Keith. 

"Last year I felt I came into my own being in the NHL all season and playing consistently the last three-fourths of the year," Oesterle said. "I feel like I came into a groove and that I can play well at the NHL level and dictate the pace as much as I can. I'm not saying that I feel established, but I feel confident in my abilities and game right now, and in my mind I feel I'm a top-six defenseman in the NHL."

Oesterle is hoping to continue to evolve in the NHL as an undrafted player. 

"That's just always how's it been for me coming from a blue-collar family," Oesterle said. "I was never really on the good teams, so I was a late bloomer. Now I'm able to play in the NHL and play at a high level. That's something that I take pride in, for sure."

Oesterle credits a three-year career at Western Michigan University under Head Coach Andy Murray, a longtime NHL head coach, as a key to his success. 

"It was a tremendous experience," Oesterle said. "At that time, being a college student, I wasn't thinking too much into the future. I didn't really realize how influential it was having him as a coach for three seasons before I turned pro. Once I turned pro, I was able to adjust more quickly than some of the other guys I played with in the AHL and guys coming from other programs."

Oesterle grew up in Dearborn Heights, Mich., a fan of the Red Wings and Nicklas Lidstrom. Later, he started admiring other NHL defensemen such as Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang and now tries to play like a hybrid of them, if you will.

"We acquired him for his ability to break pucks out and support the rush," Chayka said. "He's a smart player with good feet and has the ability to contribute offensively."

Oesterle notched five goals and 10 assists for the Blackhawks last season. Prior to that, he produced six assists in 25 games over three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, and 20 goals and 63 assists in 157 games in the American Hockey League.

"I don't want to be labeled as a defensive-defenseman or an offensive-defenseman," Oesterle said. "I want to be a guy that can play in all situations."

Oesterle and Hinostroza are headed to Arizona this weekend to check out the area for the first time since the trade. 

"I talk to Vinnie a lot and we're excited about going down there and joining the young group they have and being a part of turning things around for Arizona," Oesterle said. "It's so exciting to join a team that has young talented players that will be All-Stars for years to come and also established players like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Derek Stepan, guys who will help lead our team in the right direction."

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