- photo courtesy of Arizona Coyotes

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."

- photo courtesy of Arizona Coyotes

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

'Best Player Available' Drives Coyotes 2019 Draft Strategy

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

(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

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

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

John Chayka's Hockey Operations Staff

Looks To Supplement And Add To

The Team's Already Strong Foundation

Arizona Coyotes Camp - Day 4

June 14, 2019

Sometimes there's a glaring void that needs tending to.

Sometimes there's not. Sometimes, as the case is with Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and GM John Chayka's hockey operations department leading into the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21 in Vancouver, B.C., there's a foundation that's already been laid through years of meticulous work -- a strong foundation -- one that calls for the security of an up-and-coming support system.

Relatively rich in all areas of the game: goaltending, defense, and forwards, the Coyotes' clear deficiency during the 2018-19 season was their struggle to stay healthy.

"Ultimately we've got a lot in this group [right now]," Chayka said. "We've got a lot coming too, and with that, plenty of ability throughout this group to score more, and that's been my assessment as I work through all of the options and alternatives."

To accurately gauge last season's roster, one that was among the league leaders in man games lost due to injury, would be rather complex. If there's anything to come of what would have, could have been, it likely would center around a stark increase in scoring, more games won, and a not-so-far-fetched belief that a playoff spot would have been attained.

"We're in a position where we've got a lot of depth across all areas of our team, we've got a team in place now where we're not looking to add four, five, or six pieces," Chayka said. "The majority of our team is in place, and in place for a very long time."

Now, it's about adding to an already fairly balanced roster, to selecting #14 overall, where the mindset, which will likely ring true with their seven additional picks to come thereafter, will harp on going after the best player available on the board.

​"When you're looking at the draft, you're looking at 'are there assets that we can add to our organization that would otherwise be very difficult to trade for'," Chayka noted. "As we look through the possibilities at #14, there are a lot of talented players there, and depending on how it shakes out with the first 13 picks, we know that we're going to get a good player regardless of how that works."

Chayka and his staff can look at the recently completed 2019 Stanley Cup Final to find three examples of star NHL players who were selected with the 14th overall pick in previous drafts. The Boston Bruins boasted two of such; Jake DeBrusk (2015) and Charlie McAvoy (2016), while the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues featured the highly impactful Jaden Schwartz (2010).  

That player selected in the first round, and the handful to follow in the later stages of the draft, will not serve as instant fixtures on the NHL roster, but a future piece to a strong core that, Chayka stressed, "needs to be supplemented and added to."

To build a Stanley Cup-caliber roster means consistent work to fit its needs. "In order to achieve our goal and be a contending team for a long time, we've got to keep building without a doubt."

"We're excited about the foundation we've laid, we're excited about the players that are coming up, we think there may be a few special opportunities that might present themselves to add to this group and the draft's the best time," Chayka said. "We anticipate on being very active and we hope to execute."

The Coyotes currently have eight picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, including two selections in the third and sixth rounds: Round 1 (#14), Round 2 (#45), Round 3 (#74, #76), Round 4 (#107), Round 6 (#174, #176), Round 7 (#200).

-- photo Seth Askelson

A  look  back . . . .

Ice Time Hockey SW photos

Arizona Coyotes Training Camp

Arizona Coyotes Camp 2019: Day 4, with Barrett Hayton


- photo courtesy of Arizona Coyotes

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