It’s about time the Arizona Coyotes made some moves. After losing a longtime starter, Mike Smith, the team was left without a true number 1 goalie. That all changed when they traded for Antti Raanta, who is now locked and loaded as the Coyotes top option in net.
After spending two seasons in New York as the primary backup to Henrik Lundqvist, Raanta now gets his shot at becoming the number one guy. During the 2016-17 season, Raanta showed he was one of the best backups in the league, posting a .922 save percentage.
Antti Raanta stepped up his game big time for the Rangers when Lundqvist was struggling, a nice surprise seeing as to how many left the Rangers for dead at that point. And while Phoenix might not be as prolific of a team as the Rangers, Raanta still finds himself in a great opportunity.
The Coyotes feature a very young core of talent. Two of the team’s top line stars, Christian Dvorak and Max Domi, are both under the age of 23. Also included in Arizona talent pool is Dylan Strome, the team’s prized prospect from two years ago.
And while Raanta will have quite a few young, new faces this season, he’ll also have the benefit of Rangers teammate, Derek Stepan, who came over in the same deal. Stepan will provide leadership to the team, especially with longtime leader, Shane Doan, no longer with the club.
In addition to Stepan, the Coyotes added a veteran defenseman, Niklas Hjalmarsson, to the mix. A Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks, Hjalmarsson will provide a winning mentality to the team’s blue-line and overall roster.
While the Coyotes might not have the veteran talent as most NHL rosters, there’s still plenty of opportunities for this team to succeed. Raanta has shown he’s more than capable of handling starter’s minutes, and will no doubt prove to be vital to the Coyotes success.
At 28-years-old, Raanta is just now entering the prime of his career. The Arizona Coyotes are a team that’s on the way up. With young talent ready to make a big impact on the roster, Raanta might be the missing piece this team needs to make the playoffs.