Tocchet, rebuilt roster offer Coyotes hope in 2017-18

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(Source: Richard Hartog, Associated Press) (Source: Richard Hartog, Associated Press)
GLENDALE, AZ (AP) -

Andrew Barroway made quick and drastic changes shortly after becoming sole owner of the Arizona Coyotes, trading away the No. 1 goalie, parting ways with the coach and cutting ties with the longtime captain in a span of a few days.

The Coyotes hope the moves will lead to quick changes on the ice.

After a summer of accelerating their rebuilding process, the Coyotes enter the 2017-18 season with a new-look roster and a new coach as they try to end a five-season playoff-less streak.

"I think we did a pretty good job of putting together a competitive roster that has a nice mix of veteran and youth players," general manager John Chayka said.

[RELATED: Coyotes hire Rick Tocchet as head coach]

[READ MORE: Coyotes, Tippett agree to part ways]

Barroway became the Coyotes' sole owner after buying out his partners in June and started overhauling the roster almost immediately.

Arizona traded No. 1 goalie Mike Smith to Calgary, parted ways with long-time coach Dave Tippett and told captain Shane Doan it would not re-sign him for a 22nd season with the franchise.

The Coyotes replaced Smith with Antti Raanta, who they hope can make the transition from a back-up with the New York Rangers to a No. 1 goalie. Arizona also shored up its blue line by trading for steady defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with Chicago, and landed the top-line center they've sought for years by trading for Derek Stepan.

Those veterans will mix with a young core that includes All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, dynamic forward Max Domi and up-and-comers like Clayton Keller and Brendan Perlini.

[RELATED: New Coyotes coach Tocchet thrilled to return to ‘exciting hockey market’]

They'll all play for Rick Tocchet, the former Tampa Bay Lightning coach who promises the Coyotes will play fast and hard.

"Everyone gets a clean slate," Tocchet said.

A few more things to look for from the new-look Coyotes in 2017-18:

NO DOAN

Doan had been a fixture in the Coyotes' lineup and one of the most revered athletes in the history of the Valley of the Sun. The team unceremoniously announced it would not re-sign the longtime captain, a move Barroway later admitted was handled poorly. The team plans to retire Doan's number in the near future, possibly sometime this season. His presence in the locker room will be missed and a new captain will have to be selected, most likely Ekman-Larsson.

[RELATED: Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan retires after 21-year career]

[SPORTS SECTION: Coyotes]

IN GOAL

Smith had an up-and-down run in the desert. He helped lead the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference Finals and was an All-Star last year but played inconsistently in between. Taking his place between the pipes will be Raanta, who went 16-8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average in 30 games as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. How he handles being a No. 1 goalie for the first time will go a long way in determining how good the Coyotes can be.

BLUE LINE

The addition of Hjalmarsson might be the Coyotes' most important move of the offseason. He's a steady defense-first defenseman who is expected to free up Ekman-Larsson to chip in even more on offense. Add in Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers, recently picked up in a trade with Florida, and the Coyotes should have one of the best groups of defensemen they've had in the desert.

CENTER UPGRADE

The Coyotes have spent years trying to find a top-line center without much luck. Stepan should fill that void nicely. The 27-year-old has eclipsed 50 points during five of the past six seasons and has been a steady goal scorer, notching between 16 and 22 every year of his seven-season career in New York.

DOMI'S ROLE

Domi had a superb rookie season, scoring 18 goals while notching 52 points. The Coyotes were expecting a big sophomore season from the son of former NHL tough guy Tie Domi, but he was limited to 59 games after breaking his hand in a fight. He still finished third on the team with 38 points and the Coyotes are expecting his production to rise with a healthy return this season.

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