Coyotes trade Darcy Kuemper, restructure blue line to begin free agency

The Coyotes’ facelift continues as Darcy Kuemper, Antti Raanta, and Alex Goligoski are leaving the Valley


Sarah Hall

The Coyotes, pictured during a January 2021 scrimmage, will have a new-look roster once the puck drops next season.

James Mackey, Reporter

The Arizona Coyotes’ frenzied week of transactions continued into free agency after a busy entry draft and Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s exit via trade.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has retired, while Alex Goligoski signed with the Minnesota Wild and goaltender Antti Raanta signed with the Carolina Hurricanes to open free agency on Wednesday.

General manager Bill Armstrong also dealt goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round pick as the Coyotes’ roster reshaping motors ahead.

“We were the last man standing (in the goalie frenzy).

— Bill Armstrong

Hjalmarsson, a three-time Stanley Cup winner in Chicago, came to the Coyotes prior to the 2016-17 season in a trade that saw Laurent Dauphin and Connor Murphy head to Chicago. Across 14 years in the NHL, the Swedish defenseman posted 172 points with 147 assists and 25 goals. He blocked 1,606 shots, good for 18th all-time.

Hjalmarsson’s stature saw him don the alternate captain’s “A” on his Coyotes jersey. He played in 207 games with the team, including nine playoff games in the 2020 bubble. He scored two goals and nothced 27 assists for 30 points.

His defensive partner, Goligoski, has also played 14 seasons, including five in the desert with the Coyotes. Like Hjalmarsson, Goligoski also was named an alternate captain and accrued 28 goals, 124 assists, and 108 penalty minutes in 362 games.

The Minnesota native signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Wild on Wednesday, which includes a no-movement clause.

Goaltender Raanta leaves the Coyotes after four seasons, where he posted a cumulative .915 save percentage with a 2.77 goals against average across 104 games. After two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Raanta went to the New York Rangers before being traded in a package deal with Derek Stepan in exchange for defenseman Tony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Raanta, coming off a season in which he posted a career-worst 3.36 GAA, signed a two-year deal with Carolina.

The Coyotes also moved on from former Vezina Trophy candidate Darcy Kuemper after three-and-a-half seasons, trading him to goaltending-starved Colorado late Wednesday. Kuemper posted a 10-11-3 record in 2021 with a respectable 2.56 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Armstrong was able to acquire prospect Conor Timmins in the trade, along with the first-round 2022 Draft pick and possibly another pick.

“We are very pleased to acquire Conor,” Armstrong said in a statement. “He is a talented young defenseman and we are excited to add him to our blueline.”

The Coyotes seem likely to replace Kuemper with Carter Hutton, who will join the team on a one-year contract. Hutton has posted a 94-88-27 record with the Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Buffalo Sabres, as well as a 2.71 GAA, and a .909 SV% in 232 career games.

The team also announced forward Ryan Dzingel’s arrival on a one-year deal. Dzingel was drafted 204th overall in 2011, and played for the Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators during the 2021 season. He scored eight goals and was credited with five assists across 40 games last season.