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Soderberg settles in, excited for season ahead

The Coyotes' offseason acquisition looks to provide an offensive spark and a dependable two-way game

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Welcome to Arizona, Carl Soderberg .

Taking the ice at Gila River Arena on Friday morning for the first time as a member of the Coyotes, the big-bodied forward donned his new colors, skated with his new teammates, and absorbed his new surroundings.

Acquired on June 25th in a trade that sent defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 2020 third round draft choice to the Colorado Avalanche, the 33-year-old center was one of two major offseason moves that President of Hockey Operations and GM John Chayka made to reinforce the team's offensive attack.

Mired by injuries and a slight shortage of depth up front, the Coyotes averaged just 2.5 goals per game in 2018-19, tied for the fourth-lowest median in the NHL.

Soderberg comes to Arizona fresh off the highest-scoring year of his career in which netted 23 goals, shattering his previous career high of 16, helping Colorado in its drive to a playoff spot. His 49 total points last season ranked fifth among an Avalanche roster that combined to put up more than three goals per game.

"I feel pretty good," he said following his first training camp practice. "It seems like a nice place to play, and I'm getting to see it includes great teammates and a good staff. I don't know a whole lot more so far, but I'm getting used to the system here."

With any new venture, a little bit of time is needed to settle.

"It's always exciting," he said when asked about getting a fresh start with a different team. "Everything is new, but I'm usually one to pick up everything pretty quick. After a couple of weeks I should be feeling just right."

It helps, too, that he's already familiar with a couple of staples on Arizona's roster: defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson . He played with both as a member of Sweden's National Team in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and the 2017 IIHF World Championship.

As a player, Soderberg considers himself a solid, dependable two-way asset, good in front of the net on both ends of the ice; in the offensive zone as a sturdy presence complemented with scoring touch, and in the defensive zone on the backcheck with a long reach to disrupt opposition's time and space.

He likes the fit, as do the Coyotes, hence the offseason acquisition.

"I like this situation a lot, it's a hard-working team that's been pretty consistent with great goaltending and great defense," he said. "And there are some pretty good forwards as well, so we should be all set. It's obvious, but now it's time to take that next step and make the playoffs."

If there's anything Soderberg knows when it comes to helping a roster take that vital step to become a playoff-caliber team, it comes from his four years spent with the Avalanche.

Arriving in Colorado in 2015, he was joining an organization that had failed to qualify for the postseason in five of its six previous seasons. In time, he helped the Avalanche secure two consecutive playoff berths in 2018 and 2019.

He sees a similar upward trend calling for the Coyotes, who haven't gotten a taste of the postseason since 2012.

"When I came to Colorado, we weren't making the playoffs at that point, maybe once or twice in the 10 years before that. They just weren't a playoff team," he said in recollect. "But we changed things up the last two years, we got in, we were a pretty good team. This team is going in a very similar direction."

Simply put, he's a good fit for a team that's knocking on the door.

"I'm excited for us to have a great year," he added. "This team hasn't made the playoffs in the last six years or so, and I think it's time for that now."

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