Arizona Coyotes

NHL Notes: Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin agrees to 7-year extension

NHL Notes: Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin agrees to 7-year extension

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes and defenseman Jaccob Slavin have agreed to a seven-year contract extension.

General manager Ron Francis on Wednesday said the deal begins in 2018-19 and will carry an average annual value of $5.3 million through the 2024-25 season.

Francis says the 23-year-old Slavin is "one of the cornerstones of our team" and "one of the top young defensemen in the NHL today."

In his second season in the NHL in 2016-17, Slavin had 34 points, five goals, 29 assists. He also led the team with 161 blocked shots, 83 takeaways and an average time on ice of about 23 minutes.

Slavin, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin are the team's key defensemen entering their third NHL season, and they along with All-Star Justin Faulk and trade acquisition Trevor van Riemsdyk will enter the season as the nucleus of the defense in front of new goalie Scott Darling.

The Hurricanes have not had a captain since Eric Staal was traded in 2016, going with a group of alternate captains last season. Slavin understands that his lengthy new contract comes with an expectation that he will help lead a young dressing room, whether or not he earns an "A" or a "C" on his jersey (see full recap).

Penguins: Crosby blocked out concussion debate
COLE HARBOR, Nova Scotia -- Sidney Crosby said Wednesday he did not pay attention to those questioning whether he should continue playing hockey after suffering another concussion during the playoffs.

Crosby was too focused on capturing another Stanley Cup for his Pittsburgh Penguins to worry about outside opinions on his health.

"I don't really read or listen to that stuff during the playoffs," Crosby told reporters at his annual hockey camp in his hometown.

Crosby has suffered multiple concussions during his career, including one during Game 3 of the second round against Washington in May. He missed one game before returning for Game 5, prompting questions about whether he should consider retirement.

The Penguins went on to win a second straight Cup, defeating the Nashville Predators in the final.

Crosby said he understands why concussions generate so much controversy.

"It's a hot topic," he said. "That's the nature of it right now" (see full story).

Coyotes: Patterson named president and CEO
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes hired Steve Patterson as president and CEO on Wednesday, hoping the longtime sports executive can help solve their ongoing arena issue.

The Coyotes have sought a new arena since the city of Glendale renegotiated a 15-year lease in 2015 and lost a partner for a new arena when Arizona State pulled out of an agreement earlier this year.

Patterson has worked as an NFL, NBA and college executive, serving key roles in designing and renovating arenas at nearly every stop.

The Coyotes also promoted general manager John Chayka to president of hockey operations, a day after hiring Rick Tocchet as head coach.

"Steve has a wealth of experience and has served as an innovative and successful executive in the NFL, NBA, professional hockey, professional baseball and college athletics for over 30 years," Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in a statement. "He's built championship teams and organizations and has managed stadiums, ballparks and arenas across the United States. Most importantly, he previously worked in our market and has the necessary corporate and political relationships to help us secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley. We're thrilled to have him join us" (see full story).

Coyotes hire former Flyer Rick Tocchet as head coach

Coyotes hire former Flyer Rick Tocchet as head coach

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Coyotes have hired Rick Tocchet as head coach, turning the team over to a man who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the past two Stanley Cup titles.

The 53-year-old Tocchet, who spent the past three seasons as a Pittsburgh assistant, played 18 seasons in the NHL and helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 1992.

Tocchet spent one season as an assistant to Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky in 2005-06 and played parts of three seasons with the team from 1997 to 2000.

Tocchet's controversial departure from his Coyotes coaching job did not figure into the decision to hire him, general manager John Chayka said.

"Rick was the best candidate by a wide margin," Chayka said.

Tocchet was on a leave of absence from his Coyotes job in 2007 when he pleaded guilty in New Jersey to conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. He was sentenced to two years' probation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said an investigation showed Tocchet's involvement in gambling was not as serious as first thought and he was suspended for three months.

There was no evidence Tocchet ever bet on hockey games.

"He's a man of character and integrity," Chayka said. "Any issues in the past are in the past. It didn't raise any red flags for us whatsoever."

Tocchet briefly returned to the Coyotes in 2008 before being hired as an assistant at Tampa Bay. He became interim head coach of the Lightning that November and was head coach at Tampa Bay the next two seasons.

But it was his work with the Penguins that elevated him to the clear favorite to replace Dave Tippett, who parted ways with the Coyotes after eight years as the franchise's head coach.

"He's one of the best communicators I've come across not only in hockey but probably professionally as well," Chakya said. "... I think he can just relate to the players. He's very firm. He can motivate. He can be aggressive in his approach, but he can also be that big brother kind of approach with our young players and I think that's going to be helpful moving forward."

Chakya said Tocchet has a clear idea of the style he wants his team to play.

"He wants to play fast. He wants to play aggressive. He wants to dictate time and space," Chakya said.

"We had a lot of coaches come through. They will all say something similar. I think he had a real plan of how to do it. He had concrete examples of what that means based off his time in Pittsburgh and some more ideas of what he's maybe looking to do moving forward."

NHL Notes: Blackhawks reacquire Saad for Panarin; Rangers send Stepan to Coyotes for No. 7

NHL Notes: Blackhawks reacquire Saad for Panarin; Rangers send Stepan to Coyotes for No. 7

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have reacquired forward Brandon Saad in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, parting with top young forward Artemi Panarin to complete the blockbuster deal.

The 24-year-old Saad spent his first four seasons with Chicago, helping the Blackhawks win two Stanley Cups. Concerned about their ability to re-sign Saad when he became a restricted free agent in 2015, the Blackhawks traded the rugged winger to the Blue Jackets.

He had 24 goals and 29 assists in 82 games for Columbus last season.

The Blackhawks also received goaltender Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick in Friday's trade in exchange for forwards Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago's sixth-round selection on Saturday.

The loss of Panarin is a big blow for Chicago. He teamed with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov to form one of the NHL's most potent lines the past couple seasons.

Rangers send Stepan to Coyotes for DeAngelo, No. 7 pick
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have acquired center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick in this year's draft.

The Coyotes have made massive changes since Andrew Barroway became sole owner earlier this month, trading away No. 1 goalie Mike Smith, parting ways with coach Dave Tippett and opting not to offer captain Shane Doan a contract. Arizona also acquired defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago earlier Friday.

Stepan and Raanta should address two big needs.

The 27-year-old Stepan had 17 goals and 38 assists in 81 games with the Rangers last season. Raanta went 16-8-2 in 30 games, with four shutouts and a 2.26 goals-against average.

DeAngelo had five goals and nine assists in 39 games last season.

Blackhawks ship defenseman Hjalmarsson to Coyotes
CHICAGO -- The Arizona Coyotes have acquired defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The 30-year-old Hjalmarsson had spent his entire 10-year career with Chicago, helping the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles. He had five goals, 13 assists and a team-high 181 blocked shots in 73 games last season.

The Blackhawks received defensemen Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in Friday's trade. The 24-year-old Murphy had two goals and a career-high 15 assists in 77 games with Arizona last season. Dauphin, 22, has appeared in 32 NHL games over the last two seasons.

The trade comes with Arizona in a bit of turmoil. The team announced Thursday on the eve of the NHL draft that coach Dave Tippett was out after eight seasons (see full story).

Kings buy out defeseman Matt Greene
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have bought out the final year of defenseman Matt Greene's contract.

The Kings announced the move Friday.

Greene has been with the Kings since 2008. He provided steady stay-at-home defense during their Stanley Cup championship runs in 2012 and 2014.

But Greene has played in only 29 games over the past two seasons due to serious injuries, and he has played in more than half of the Kings' games in just one season since 2012. He went on injured reserve Jan. 30 and had back surgery.

Greene had a four-year, $10 million contract extension that began in 2014. The buyout turns his $2.5 million cap hit next season into an $833,333 hit in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Greene has 17 goals and 63 assists in 615 games (see full story).