-- photo Seth Askelson

June 21, 2019

GLENDALE, ARIZONA -- Trading up three spots Friday night, John Chayka pulled the trigger on selecting Victor Soderstrom in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft - a two-way defenseman with a celebrated stride and offensive upside.

Chayka acquired the Philadelphia Flyers' #11 overall selection in exchange for the Coyotes' original #14 and #45 second round selection.

"We weren't leaving the draft without him; we were going to do whatever it took to get him."

When reading reports, there is no shortage of accolades paid to the 18-year-old's game, though when specific, scouts are quick to pinpoint the defenseman's knack to move the puck with superb passing vision, his skating ability, and dynamic offensive flash.

​​"Anytime you get a premium player at a premium position, that's kind of what we were after," Chayka noted. "He's a right-shot defenseman, moves the puck, he can play against top lines, play on the power play and play on the penalty kill - you can't trade for that. Obviously for us, we have a lot of defensemen, we think it's the foundation of our team, and [Victor] just makes that better."

Soderstrom, who attended the draft with his family, didn't hesitate when describing the emotions he felt after hearing his name called by Coyotes' Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting Lindsay Hofford.

"It was an awesome feeling, today is the best day of my life, you can't really put it into words," he remarked with a grin. "It's an incredible feeling, it's special that they traded up to get me too."

​A native of Skutskars, Sweden, Soderstrom sees the Coyotes' roster as one that's trending upward with a promising future in sight, and one that features two fellow countrymen in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

"I know that the team is a talented team, a young team, and they have two Swedish defensemen there as well," he added.

"Ekman-Larsson, he's a good two-way defenseman and he's very good offensively too, so he's a guy that I watch because we're kind of similar. And Hjalmarsson, he's a very good defensive defenseman, a good two-way game too and I think he has a really good first pass."

While communicating with Soderstrom prior to the draft, which included plenty of dialogue -- and dinner -- during the NHL Scouting Combine in May, Chayka noted that he and his staff were intrigued by the young blue-liner's maturity, his ability to observe and learn.

​"I think Victor is a great character guy, he'll learn a lot from [Ekman-Larsson and Hjalmarsson] as well, he's a sponge," Chayka said. "Training with those guys and seeing them on the ice is only going to make him better. I don't think he's far away from playing, so we'll see how it evolves from here, but he's a special product."

Core players aren't easy to come by, and with assertiveness, the Coyotes acted on their opportunity.

"This guy's a foundational piece. We see him as a future leader of our team for a long time."

Free Hockey Highlights Home Portion Of Coyotes 2019 Preseason Schedule

June 14, 2019

With the NHL's offseason in full effect following the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday evening, free hockey's on the horizon for Arizona Coyotes fans as the club transitions to eye the coming 2019-20 campaign with the release of the team's preseason schedule.

The Coyotes are slated to play a total of seven exhibition contests, including simultaneous split-squad games against the Los Angeles Kings on September 17.

​Both of Arizona's home games at Gila River Arena, which take place on Tuesday, September 17 against the Los Angeles Kings (7:00 p.m.), and Saturday, September 21 against the Anaheim Ducks (6:00 p.m.) will feature free attendance for all first responders, service members, and kids under the age of 14.

Fans can inquire and submit information to receive free tickets below.

The promotion follows the Coyotes continued focus on embracing the local community, notably those who courageously serve the country and the state of Arizona, as well as the up-and-coming generation of Coyotes fans in the desert.

"As we are deeply committed to positively impacting our community and exposing more and more people to our great game, we are proud to provide free admission to both of our home preseason games to all first responders, service members and all kids under the age of 14," said Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen. "We see this as a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to those you keep us safe, as well as to invite the next generation of Our Pack out to Gila River Arena."

The Coyotes won both of their preseason games played at Gila River Arena last season, highlighted by two separate multi-goal performances from Alex Galchenyuk in a 4-2 win over the Kings and Lawson Crouse in a 6-1 win over the Ducks.

A full preseason schedule, including the opener against the desert rival Vegas Golden Knights on September 15, can be seen below.

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

Coming soon . . . ..

First Responders, Service Members, and Kids 14 & Under Are Eligible For Free Tickets On

September 17 & 21

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

by Seth Askelson

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

June 21, 2019

GLENDALE, ARIZONA -- he Arizona Coyotes selected defenseman Victor Soderstrom from Brynas IF (SHL) in the first round (11th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday night.

The 6-foot, 183-pound Soderstrom registered 4-3-7 and 22 penalty minutes (PIM) in 44 games with Brynas IF (SHL) and recorded 1-7-8 and two PIM in 14 games with Brynas IF J20 (SuperElit) in 2018-19. The 18-year-old defenseman recorded the most points in the SHL by an U18 skater last season.

The Skutskar, Sweden native helped the Sweden U18 team win the gold medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship, skating in four games and recording an assist.

- imagecourtesy of Arizona Coyotes










   SCORE    W  





Sep 15at Vegas Golden Knights  T-Mobile  Arena  Las Vegas,  NV 2-6  0  1  0
Oct 3 at. DUCKS Honda Center Anaheim,   CA  1-2 0 1 0
Oct 5 vs. BOSTON   BRUINS  Gila River    Arena Glendale, AZ 0-1 0 2 0
Oct 10
  Gila River    Arena Glendale, AZ
 4-1 1  2 0
Oct 12
  Pepsi   Center 
 2-3 (OT) 1 2 1
Oct 18
  2 3 0
Oct 19
      3 3 0


Nov 1   
   4  3  0
Nov 2
     4-1  5  3  0
Nov 8

  3-4  5  4  0
Nov 12

Nov 14

Nov 16
   Gila River    Arena Glendale, AZ

Dec 6
 vs. DENVER Oceanside
 Tempe, AZ

Dec 7
 vs. DENVER Gila River  Arena Glendale, AZ

Dec 14
 at MICHIGAN   STATE  East Lansing,   MI

Dec 15

 East Lansing,   MI

Dec 21
 Omaha, NE

Dec 22
 Omaha, NE

Dec 28
 HARVARD Fivepoint   Arena Irvine, CA

Dec 29
 HARVARD Fivepoint   Arena Irvine, CA

Jan 4 vs. MICHIGAN   TECH Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Jan 5
  vs. MICHIGAN   TECH Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Jan 11
 Providence, RI

Jan 12
 Providence, RI

Jan 17
 vs. RIT Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Jan 18
 vs. RIT
 Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Jan 24
 Potsdam, NY

Jan 25
 Potsdam, NY

Jan 31
 vs. ROBERT   MORRIS Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Feb 1 vs. ROBERT   MORRIS Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Feb 7 at HOLY CROSS 
 Worcester,   MA 

Feb 8 at BENTLEY
 Waltham, MA

Feb 14 vs. ALASKA   ANCHORAGE Oceanside Tempe, AZ

Feb 15  vs. ALASKA   ANCHORAGE Oceanside Tempe, AZ

 Madison, WI

 Madison, WI

(June 29, 2019)  GLENDALE, ARIZONA -- "Lead horse" acquired.

Saturday's trade to land forward Phil Kessel secured an elite asset to drive the Coyotes' offense, a proven scorer -- John Chayka's biggest offseason target.

Box, checked.

"Phil has been one of the best offensive producers in the league for a sustained period of time and we think he's going to come in motivated and ready to go," Chayka stated. "We needed a guy that could produce offensively and consistently, and we were looking for a veteran player that had a history of doing it"

Historically speaking, Kessel has quite the resume over his 996-game NHL career, one that includes 823 points, two Stanley Cup championships, and rigid durability - the 31-year-old has not missed a single game in any of his previous eight seasons. 

​Providing the Coyotes with an offensive threat arguably unprecedented to the organization, Kessel is coming off of a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in which he averaged a point-per-game, matching the second-highest single-season output of his illustrious NHL career.

"Phil is an elite player, I don't remember the last time we've had a player of this caliber [on our team] that has his production," said Chayka. "He's been an elite offensive producer for a long period of time and he's done it not only in the NHL but on the world stage, the Olympics, the World Cup, things of that nature. He plays extremely well in the biggest games."

​The Coyotes will be the fourth team Kessel plays for since he was selected fifth overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

"I'm just coming in to do what I do best and to try and help the team win as many games as possible," he told reporters once the trade was announced as official. "I think [the Coyotes] are a good young up-and-coming team, I think they have a lot of great pieces in place, a lot of good players, and I'm looking to try and help them along and take the next step."

Head coach Rick Tocchet served as an assistant coach for the Penguins for three seasons (2014-17), where he and Kessel developed a strong bond, a dynamic player-coach relationship.

"I'm excited to have Phil join our team," Tocchet said. "He's a dynamic player that can be a difference-maker for us when the game is on the line."

"He's a friend of mine," Kessel said when asked of reuniting with Tocchet. "I think he's a great coach, a good person, and I want to help him succeed and do great things in Phoenix. I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited that he's going to be my coach."

​Past relationships can have a profound effect on the synergy of a team, especially when they're as noteworthy as the one between the Coyotes' new scorer and the head coach.

"Tocchet knows [Phil] extremely well, he's coached him, he knows exactly what he's getting," Chayka said, aware of the strong history between the two. "And Phil knows exactly what he's getting with Tocchet."

A good match.

"There's a certain fit, a certain mindset that we want to have around here, a certain standard that we want to continue with our group," Chayka added. "In a lot of trades you make, there's always some asymmetry in information and you're not exactly sure, you try and find out as much as you can in your due diligence, and obviously this one was easy."

Easy for the numbers, easy for the history, and easy for the morale.

"I think it's a good fit for me," Kessel stated. "I think they've got some good pieces, some good young players and I think we can take the next step. You watched them last year; they were a good team. They're just improving and I want to be a part of this organization. I'm happy to be there."

Welcome to Arizona.

"Bringing in one of the premier scorers in the NHL-and a two-time Stanley Cup champion-demonstrates Mr. Meruelo's commitment to winning and to doing whatever it takes to make this organization great," said President & CEO Ahron Cohen. "This team is on the rise and today is an important acceleration forward for our organization and our amazing fans here in Arizona."

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Acquires the 11th Overall Draft Choice

from Philadelphia in Exchange for

the 14th and 45th Overall Draft Choices

-- photo Seth Askelson

'We Weren't Leaving Without Him': Chayka Assertive To Select Soderstrom



Arizona Coyotes Camp - Day 4

Phil Kessel’s off-ice persona is one of legend, even if he did not create it. He is a hockey social media icon, as his face is placed on memes and the subject of lighthearted jokes. What is no joke, however, is the Arizona Coyotes now have a bonified, consistent goal scorer on their roster.

The Coyotes introduced the American-born winger in a press conference Tuesday morning. He comes over from the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played the last four seasons. Kessel has put up at least 70 points in the last three campaigns, and he looks to add to what is already a solid Coyotes roster.

“I think this is a great situation for me,” Kessel said. “I’ve been around the league for a long time now, I think I can fit in here and help the young guys grow as players, help them take the next step to make this team into a contender and get where we want to be.”

Kessel’s relationship with Coyotes’ head coach Rick Tocchet is no secret. Tocchet was an assistant coach on Pittsburgh Penguins teams that included Kessel and won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

There have been rumors that Kessel would want to come to the Valley because of the Tocchet connection. The winger acknowledged that he and his new coach are friends, but he also realizes it’s going to be a little bit different now that Tocchet is the bench boss.

“There’s a business side here, and I think our friendship has to almost take a back seat to what we want to accomplish,” Kessel said. “Obviously, there’s going to be times he’s going to be mad at me and he’s going to yell at me, and I’m going to have to take that and respect that because we want to win.”

The move to bring in Kessel is one of many signals of a culture change for the Coyotes. A team once picking up contracts to meet the salary cap minimum is now near the salary ceiling. While it makes general manager John Chayka’s job a little tougher, it speaks to what mindset the organization is in.

“You need a commitment from ownership to do that, and (Coyotes majority owner) Alex Meruelo stepped up and made that commitment to our fans and our community, and credit to him for doing that,” Chayka said.

In the trade, the Coyotes sent over forward Alex Galchenyuk, who they acquired in a trade last offseason, and former first-round pick Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Trading away young pieces for established stars can be risky and easily criticized, but it is also necessary for a team looking to compete.

“I think we’re trying to take that next step,” Chayka said. “We owe it to this group after the year we had last year to try to take that next step.”

“I think this team is positioned well for this year, but also positioned well for the next five to 10 years, in terms of the quality of young players that we have and the waves of prospects that we have coming as well,” Chayka said.

The move also affects the business side for the Coyotes. Ticket sales and Kessel-related merchandise has boomed since the move, and it’s helping the team create a new, positive feeling.

“People see us taking a step to bring in a marquee player in this league,” Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen said, “and last year they saw us a shade under the playoffs. Then, we bring back a lot of those core pieces and then you see us adding with a guy like Phil Kessel. I think people are excited for growth.”

“Overall, I think people are excited with our brand,” Cohen added. “We’re in a nice little period of time where we have an opportunity to get a lot of attention in this marketplace.”

The beginning of the Phil Kessel era in Arizona starts October 3 when the Coyotes open the season in Anaheim against the Ducks. 

-- photo Seth Askelson

It has been seven years of disappointment for the Arizona Coyotes both on and off the ice. The team has not made the playoffs in that span, and each offseason had questions about ownership. It seems as though both of those problems will be solved soon.

The Arizona Coyotes introduced Alex Meruelo as the new majority owner Tuesday, officially making him the first billionaire owner of the franchise. He owns multiple businesses around the western United States, but this is the first time he has owned any professional sports team. He attempted to purchase the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks in 2011, but the agreement was mutually terminated between him and the current ownership group.

His second public attempt to jump into the pro sports market was a success, and in purchasing the Coyotes, he becomes the first ever NHL owner of Latin descent. He is the son of Cuban immigrants, and acknowledged his roots during the press conference.

He took time to speak in Spanish during his opening statement, and took a question and answered in the same language. When it came to questions about how the team will target the Hispanic market, he deferred to CEO Ahron Cohen, who wants to start the effort at a “grassroots level”.

“We’re focused on being very authentic and really reaching out in a meaningful way,” Cohen said. “What’s wonderful is that you have an owner that’s inspirational to not just the Hispanic community but every person can look and say ‘This is the American Dream’.”

The Coyotes have not seen postseason play since the 2012 run to the Western Conference Finals, though just missed out in 2019 by four points. The current roster and the success of the team last year has the new owner excited, and he made it very clear one thing he wants out of his franchise.

“I sure as (expletive) want to win.”

Throughout the last 10 years of juggling ownership, the biggest fear is that a new owner would want to move the Coyotes. With Meruelo owning business in California and Nevada, it does not seem likely that he would ever want to move the team, and he reassured the fan base of that.

“I am committed to making it work, whether it be (in Glendale), or someplace in the Valley,” Meruelo said. “I want to be a part of this state. That is my sole interest. I’ll do everything I possibly can to make it happen.”

When asked about the arena situation, Meruelo said that it is hard to be out in Glendale, away from the majority of the fan base and sponsors. But he did not explicitly rule out Gila River Arena as a long-term option, something that previous ownership and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman have said would not be viable down the road.

Financial restrictions and resources have made it tough for Coyotes General Manager John Chayka to make moves in the offseason and in free agency. Meruelo is going to bring in a much-needed financial boost, and it can allow the Coyotes to make some moves they may not have been able to do in the past. While there is the extra money, Chayka ensured that it would not be thrown around carelessly.

“If you look at his resume, (Meruelo) always invested in his businesses,” Chayka said. “If you’re trying to accomplish the goal of winning the Stanley Cup, you have to be very thoughtful about things and he’s not going to come in and be wasteful.”

The off-season has been one filled with buzz so far, and Meruelo coming in is the cherry on top. With another full month before training camp opens, it remains to be seen if the new owner’s resources will play a factor in adding to the current roster. What is clear is Meruelo’s ultimate goals: find a viable option to stay in Arizona and win Lord Stanley’s Cup. 

Meruelo  Takes Ownership With One Goal in Mind  -  WINNING

A  look  back . . . .

Ice Time Hockey SW photos

Arizona Coyotes Training Camp

Arizona Coyotes Camp 2019: Day 4, with Barrett Hayton

“I sure as sh*t want to win.” – Meruelo

makes intentions known during introduction


- photo courtesy of Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes Select Victor Soderstrom In The First Round Of The 2019 NHL Draft

by Seth Askelson

- photo courtesy of Arizona Coyotes