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New Coyote: Gostisbehere Glad to be Here

Arizona trades for Flyers defenseman, two more draft picks

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes acted as soon as the league-wide roster freeze lifted Thursday morning. 

General Manager Bill Armstrong pulled the trigger on his third trade in less than a week, acquiring defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and two 2022 draft picks (2nd Round and 7th Round) from the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The Coyotes now have 17 picks over the next two drafts, including seven second-rounders. When the 2021 draft begins Friday, at 5 p.m., the Coyotes might have even more picks at their disposal.

"There are still some trades to complete before the draft," Armstrong said. 

Gostisbehere, 28, has two years remaining on his current contract. 

"He's a really exciting player for us," Armstrong said. "He can run a power play, he's got a great shot, he just finds ways to get (his shot) through. His first pass (is great) coming out of the zone. He's a really good puck mover on the back end."

Gostisbehere registered a career-high 65 points in 2017-18, but his numbers have dwindled, as he has battled through injury.

"He's had some up and down years," Armstrong said. "But from the homework I've done on him, I feel he has really matured and has taken another step as far as working out, improving and trying to get better. We're really excited about the player, and we feel he's a great fit for us."

The Coyotes' newest defensemen is getting married in two weeks in Long Beach Island, about an hour east of Philadelphia.

"I've only been in Philadelphia my whole career," Gostisbehere said. "I think I've been here seven or eight years now, and there are a lot of emotions. But I'm really excited for the opportunity. It's a fresh start for myself. My future wife and I are really excited."

Gostisbehere acknowledged his last three seasons haven't been easy, but felt things trended in the right direction in 2020-21. 

"I've battled through a lot of injuries," Gostisbehere said. "Injuries that have hampered my ability to play the way that I (like to) play. Last year, I think I took the next step in leaving those injuries in the past and moving forward. For how tough of a season we had, individually I thought I had a really good season. It's something for me to springboard from. So, going into a fresh start with the Coyotes, it's exciting." 

Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun reached out to Gostisbehere shortly after the trade. The two are native Floridians; their hometowns are just 45 minutes apart.

"I know Jakob Chychrun a little bit," Gostisbehere said. "Us both being Florida boys, us growing up down there, he was always younger than me. He sent me a text actually, welcoming me and asking me if I needed anything. That was really nice of him." 

Back to those draft picks. 

"Number one, there's comfort as an organization that you're going to have the ability to draft, that's one," Armstrong said. "Number two, it's that you have assets. It's like your bank account. You put some money in the bank, you can do some things. It gives you a lot of flexibility. 

"When I jumped into the GM seat, my one thought after the press conference was, 'What's going to make me different from all of the other GMs who have been here?' I thought to myself, I want to build the best scouting staff that's ever been here. We were able to get some really good scouts early on. When you have good scouts, you want to give them good picks, and that's what I've tried to do here. I've put some picks in their hands so they can make a difference for us."

Armstrong's optimism isn't based solely on the future talent the Coyotes can draft, but the future for Gostisbehere. 

"He's only 28," Armstrong said. "Forwards peak when they're 24, and defensemen (peak) even later. So, I feel that he's only starting. You first come into the league like a gangbuster. Then you realize it's work and people start figuring you out. And it's easy to get out of the game quickly. But the guys who stay around and perfect it and really work at their game survive. I think he's one of those guys who knows how to survive. II think he's going to take it to the next level. We're excited about it."

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