The Coyotes Tuesday acquired center Carl Soderberg from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third round draft selection, shoring up the middle of the ice with a name that possesses a number of dependable assets.
The 33-year-old forward is coming off his sixth full NHL season; one that saw him set a new career-high in goals scored (23) as he played a key role in the Avalanche's run to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With Colorado being the main team the Coyotes were battling with for the final Western Conference wild card spot during the late stages of the 2018-19 regular season, John Chayka had plenty of time to observe Soderberg's game while he, and Arizona, fought to earn playoff rights.
"He's been a guy on our radar, a guy we've seen over the past couple of years, and obviously in those games when we were chasing [Colorado] and they were chasing us," Chayka noted. "We got to know him a little bit through that, deeper through that. He's a stabilizer for us."
A stabilizer. That's a strong word, and one that's particularly accurate when assessing Soderberg's game.
The Malmo, Sweden native has appeared no fewer than 73 games in any single one of his six NHL seasons, playing a full 82 three times, twice with the Avalanche and once with the Boston Bruins.
"Durability's an asset, last year taught us that," Chayka said in regard to the forward's endurance. "Durability and depth, if we'd had more of that last year we would've been in the playoffs, so this move helps address that."
His production on the score sheet has been almost as consistent as his lineup status, hitting double-digits in goals and assists in all but one of his NHL seasons, eclipsing the 40-point mark four times.
"He's a horse, so to get a guy like that who's durable, who's productive, who plays hard minutes through the middle of the ice, for us it was an opportunity to make ourselves a better team than we were yesterday," Chayka added.
A force up the middle, Soderberg is keen on getting to the front of the net, where he claims the majority of his offensive numbers scoring from close range.
"He plays a simple game, he's up and down through the middle of the ice, he goes to the net, he stops, he creates a lot of havoc and traffic at the net front, he does a lot of good things for players and frees them up to be better in offensive situations."
When asked to provide a self-scouting report, Soderberg kept it simple, backing up the terminology Chayka used to describe his game.
"I'm pretty good in both directions, a two-way centerman," he said. "I know the Coyotes are looking for goal scoring and hopefully I can help them with that."
There are elements to his game he feels match that of Rick Tocchet's systematized approach.
"I think [Arizona's] style of playing is pretty much my game; it's hard, it's competitive, it's defensively structured," he said. "[The Coyotes] were always hard to play against, it was always hard to win games last year against them, that's what I saw."
Soderberg's familiarity with the organization stretches far past his knowledge of the team's style of play. He won the 2017 IIHF World Championship with Team Sweden playing alongside Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson , who he shared high praise for when recollecting on their past accomplishment.
"Great guy, great player, you can only say so much about him," he said of Ekman-Larsson. "He's the type of player every team is looking for and I think he's a great leader."
Just as Soderberg praises his new captain, Chayka does the same with his new power forward.
"He's a big horse through the middle of the ice for us coming off of a really good season, a dependable guy," he reiterated. "He plays a lot of heavy minutes, he's versatile, a center - wing that can play on the power play and penalty kill. We've got a lot of young players up front and this allows our coaches some flexibility to make a lineup that makes a lot of sense to put our players in the best position to have success."