It has been a rather busy offseason for general manager John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes who have already had their fair share of transactions thus far into the offseason and it seems as if it’s not over yet with another signing in the books.
It all started with the signing of Swedish defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson back on Monday June 11th when it was reported by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca that the 27-year-old had found his way off the market which was followed by a report from TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger the next day saying that the two sides had reached a verbal agreement on a long-term contract extension pending his signature from pen to paper to officially complete the transaction.
While negotiations continued onwards for the remainder of the month, general manager John Chayka announced on behalf of the club on July 1st the signing of the Coyotes alternate captain to an eight-year contract extension worth an AAV of $8.25 million to keep him locked up with the club for the foreseeable future ahead.
This however was not Arizona’s first go at it thus far into the offseason. Just three weeks prior, the team let go of 23-year-old left-winger Max Domi, sending him to the Montreal Canadiens in a trade which acquired 24-year-old centreman Alex Galchenyuk as the return piece of the 1-1 deal.
Now with the summer just weeks away from it’s conclusion, the organization seems to be nowhere near done as they announced the signing of 22-year-old forward Christian Dvorak to a six-year contract extension on Thursday afternoon which will keep him in the desert through to the conclusion of the 2024-2025 regular season.
At this time, Dvorak still has one more season remaining on his entry-level deal before the new contract kicks in which as noted by CapFriendly.com, will be worth a total base salary of $26.7 million while it will also carry a cap hit of $4.45-million, according to Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports.
In a statement from Chayka with regards to his latest long-term signing, he said, “We are very pleased to sign Christian to a long-term contract. Christian is a highly skilled, reliable, two-way centre who continues to improve each season. He will be a key player for us in the future and we are thrilled to have him with us for the next seven seasons.”
Dvorak later spoke in a press release where he said, “I am very happy to sign a long-term contract with the Coyotes. We have a great young team with a bright future and I love living and playing in the Valley. I’m excited to be a Coyote for the next seven years.”
Dvorak, a native of Palos Township, Illinois, was originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the first round (6th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and very quickly worked his way up the minor league system due to a never-ending burning passion for the game and an unstoppable admiration to make it to the NHL with his skill level and potential which was very highly spoken of before he was given the opportunity to prove it under the management of former head coach Dave Tippett.
Taking a look at his performance for the 2017-18 season, the young forward recorded 15 goals to go alongside 22 assists and 37 points in a total of 78 games played. He also registered 22 penalty minutes to go alongside 151 shots on goal and 2 game-winning-goals.
As for some of his career statistics in highlights early on, Dvorak has put together 30 goals and 40 assists for an even 70 career NHL points over the course of his first two seasons with the Coyotes in the National Hockey League.
Taking a look at how Dvorak might shape out in Arizona for the future, the team’s large number of additions could very well mean that he could be viewed as a third centre option behind Derek Stepan and either Alex Galchenyuk or Dylan Strome, all of whom he will likely get playing time in with to see who he is best suited with which will also likely include an evaluation by elimination process as well.
Other noted additions to the organization this offseason include the likes of Swedish defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson who will be returning to the team on a two-year deal while they also added forward Michael Grabner on a three-year contract.
Grabner became an unrestricted free agent after having spent the second of the season with the New Jersey Devils following a deadline trade from the New York Rangers. Taking a quick look at the 30-year-old’s upside, Grabner has scored 27 goals in each of the past two seasons while 51 of those goals have come at even strength. This ties him for the eighth-most in the league in that time.
As for Hjalmarsson, his numbers did not exceed nearly to the level in which Grabner has reached with just one goal registered to go alongside eight points and 18 penalty minutes in a total of 48 games played which he will most certainly look to build on in the coming seasons under Canadian head coach Rick Tocchet.
Prior to having been selected at the NHL Draft, Dvorak spent two seasons with the OHL’s London Knights who have a reputation for producing some of the league’s top talent with those such as Mitch Marner and Victor Mete currently excelling with the perspective teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.
As noted by Richard Morin of azcentral.com, Chayka has been involved in on-going extension talks with Dvorak’s camp since training camp last September while he cites banking on the reward of locking up a young, premium-position player such as Dvorak an important focus factor for the club this offseason.
According to Jared Clinton of The Hockey News, Dvorak has now inked the 18th-richest contract post-July 1. Next season, he’ll carry a cap hit higher than that of other off-season signings David Perron, Brock Nelson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Anthony Mantha.
While solidifying the team’s depth at the center position has been at main priority for John Chayka over the course of the offseason, it seems as if things might just be headed in the right direction moving onwards with several options to choose from as the roster continues to experience a shakeup for greater success looking ahead.
Dvorak could definitely be on his way to achieving stardom of that stature if he continues to grow and follow in the footsteps and guidance of his coaches in Arizona in order to further develop his game which has plenty of potential for both a bright and star studded future if he keeps producing at the rate in which he currently is at this exciting time in his career.