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Trade Coverage

Coyotes begin remake, trade for center, goalie, top-pair defenseman

Acquire Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta from Rangers, Niklas Hjalmarsson from Blackhawks prior to NHL Draft

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

CHICAGO -- The aggressive remake of the Arizona Coyotes continued Friday with two trades that landed a No. 1 center, a top-pair defenseman and a potential No. 1 goaltender.

In the first deal, made hours before the start of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Coyotes traded for defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks. In the second deal, announced less than an hour after the first, the Coyotes obtained center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers.

The deals came less than 24 hours after the Coyotes and coach Dave Tippett mutually agreed to part ways. It comes less than a week after captain Shane Doan, an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was told he would not be returning for the 2017-18 season.


[RELATED: Stepan, Raanta traded to Coyotes by Rangers | Hjalmarsson traded to Coyotes by Blackhawks]


As a result, the need for some veteran presence became much more acute.

"We need winners," Coyotes GM John Chayka said. "We have a lot of great young players; we need some leaders and some guys to show them how it is done."

Hjalmarsson, 30, who was obtained for defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin, has won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks in his 10-year NHL career.

He will join Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the top pair. They have played together in the past for the Swedish national team.

Ekman-Larsson, the new face of the franchise after the departure of Doan, struggled this season, with 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists), a nine-goal and 16-point downturn from 2015-16.

"Oliver, I think what makes him special, is playing with the puck and his offensive side of the game, the way he makes plays," Chayka said. "Hjalmarsson is an elite defender, one of the best, and he kind of covers up and frees Oliver up to do his thing. Obviously they are good friends and I think there is a lot of synergy there."

Also in the mix is defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who the Coyotes selected in the first round (No. 23) on Friday. Joseph (6-2, 163) had 39 points (six goals, 33 assists) in 62 games with Charlottetown of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

As for Stepan, he is the No. 1 center the franchise has sought, without success, for the past decade. The cost was Arizona's first-round pick, No. 7, in the NHL Draft on Friday and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, a first-round pick in 2014 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm2: Stepan goes top shelf for SHG

Stepan has scored 50 or more points in five of his seven seasons with the Rangers. In 2016-17, he scored 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists). He has played in the conference final three times and once in a Stanley Cup Final.

At, 27, Stepan is ready to assume a leadership role on the ice, as well as off it.

"It's funny, a lot of the guys in New York say that I 'X and O' it up too much, but I love talking the game, love talking a play through with someone," Stepan said. "To be able to grab some of these younger guys that have this talent.

… I don't feel I am an older guy, but to be able to talk to some of these younger guys and maybe teach them some of the things I know is something that I have always done. I learned that from Marty St. Louis. That is someone who taught me how to sit down and watch your game and figure out how you can be better on the mental side and throughout your game."

Raanta, 28, a backup for the past four years with the Blackhawks and Rangers, is a bit more of gamble for the Coyotes.

He has played 94 NHL games and has a .917 save percentage and a 2.33 goals-against average.

Video: NYR@LAK: Raanta makes 30 saves to blank the Kings

"[Raanta] was at the top of our list; he was No. 1," said Chayka, who traded No. 1 goalie Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames on Saturday. It's not like he was in the top 5, he is the No. 1 guy we were going after."

Raanta says he is ready to assume a bigger role after serving as an apprentice to Henrik Lundqvist with the Rangers and Corey Crawford with the Blackhawks.

"I feel like I am ready to take the [next] step, be playing more and take the No. 1 spot," Raanta said.

It will take time before the impact from these trades on the Coyotes can be accurately measured, but Chayka said it was time to make these moves.

"It's a big-picture thing building an organization; it ebbs and flows," Chayka said. "Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. It's a journey and I think we took a big step today, but we still have a lot of ground to cover. I still expect we can do some things to improve our team."

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