Standing on the draft floor at the United Center, wearing a smile while speaking with reporters, Coyotes general manager John Chayka reflected on his busy Friday, one that did not yet include making a selection in the first round of the NHL Draft later that evening.
You add a No. 1 center, top-pairing D, and a starting goalie, that’s quite a bit in 24 hours, he said.
Chayka started in the morning, acquiring defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. A few hours later, he swung his second major deal of the day, picking up center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta from the Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall selection in this year’s draft.
The trades fill three of the Coyotes’ biggest holes with respected veterans who have proven track records and winning pedigrees. Arizona is seeking to reach the postseason for the first time in six years in 2017-18.
Crosby returned March 15 healthy and symptom-free, scoring 33 points in the Penguins’ final 20 games in the regular season and playoffs.
Crosby’s agent, Pat Brisson, revealed Crosby had been treated for two fractured vertebrae in his neck during his absence. It wasn’t known if he suffered the injury on the hit from Krejci or whether it traced back to the back-to-back headshots in early 2011.
Injury scares behind him, Crosby piled up 160 points in 116 games between the lockout-shortended season of 2012-13 and a second Hart Trophy-winning campaign of 2013-14. He has since added a second Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and his first Conn Smythe honors while playing some of the best hockey of his career.