When general manager John Chayka took over the reins of the Arizona Coyotes, he made a commitment to put together the best team he could. With training camp commencing, we shall soon find out if his moves were successful.
Some expected less than what he has accomplished in such a short span of time. He knew up front that the defense, which lacked considerably the last few seasons, had to be upgraded.
Check. He did that.
How did Chayka do it?
He did it by acquiring one of the premier defensemen on the free agent market when he signed Alex Goligoski to a five-year $27.375 million contract. The move gives the Coyotes two top-line defensemen, (including Oliver Ekman-Larsson) to try and get this team back to respectability by making the playoffs.
He continued to re-enforce the blueline by signing Luke Schenn to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million. He will be a good addition to an increasingly improved backline.
Then, there were the late signings of Connor Murphy (six-years $23.1 million), and Michael Stone (one-year $4 million) who is recovering from knew surgery, but should be ready to go shortly after the season starts.
That gives the team two top blueline pairings, with Schenn coming in after them, and a large group looking for spots on a crowded defense.
Chayka has stated that he will more than likely carry seven defensemen. The last two spots will be tough to come by with players like Zbynek Michalek, Kevin Connauton, Klas Dahlbeck, Jarred Tinordi, along with youngsters Jakob Chychurn, Anthony DeAngelo, and Kyle Wood searching for a roster spot.
The offense upgrade wasn't ignored
On the offense, Chayka added some missing pieces to the lineup. They signed free agent Jamie McGinn to a three-year $10 million deal which should give them some toughness and scoring on the forward line.
Ryan White came over from the Philadelphia Flyers to display some grit to the forwards. White is not afraid to mix it up one bit. He is a center/right winger.
Radim Vrbata is making a comeback (make that his second comeback) with the Desert Dogs, and really didn't want to leave three years ago, but couldn't come to an agreement with then-GM Don Maloney, on a contract. He signed a one-year deal worth $1 million plus incentives.
Another opening at center ice became available with the departure of Boyd Gordon to the Philadelphia Flyers.
That spot seems to be going to center Christian Dvorak, who will be attending his third training camp. This time, he intends to make the final roster and thus far has performed well in rookie training camp, scoring a goal in a game against the Los Angeles Kings rookies recently.
Now, there are some more talented players looking for NHL jobs, but the roster seems to be filling up rapidly.
A talent like Conor Garland sure seems on the cusp of making it to the big time, but because of numbers will more than likely be playing down in Tucson this season. It wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility that he might get a call to fill in when the need arises on the parent Coyotes' team.
Christian Fischer is another prospect turning heads at the rookie camp and has an outside chance of making the cut if Tobias Rieder gets traded or continues his holdout.
Brendan Perlini has not come into his own as of yet, but his potential is off the charts. He may be playing in Tucson to refine his game.
With all this talent, it makes for an excellent environment for players to excel and show the management how tough it would be to cut them.
We'll soon know who stays and who goes. Some of these players may think they are ready for the NHL, but it will take some all out effort to crack this talented roster.