Arizona Coyotes Shayne Gostisbehere Doing it All on the Blueline

Shayne Gostisbehere
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When the Arizona Coyotes acquired defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers, it was thought of as a salary cap relief move. The Coyotes did take over the $4.5 million contract good through next season. ‘Ghost’ has really earned every bit of it thus far this season.

Shayne Gostisbehere Has Been a Good Addition to the Arizona Coyotes

The deal (if you want to call it that) which brought Gostisbehere to the desert was unique to say the least. The Flyers sent both a second-round and a seventh-round selection to Arizona without any known return compensation. In other words, the Coyotes took over the contract and the Flyers were glad to oblige with the draft picks. After all Ghost is just 28-years-old and still has lots of hockey left in his career. What wasn’t forecasted when general manager Bill Armstrong struck the deal was that he would be contributing so much to a rebuilding team. Thus far, he has accumulated the most points on the roster with three goals and 15 assists. That comes in with a 0.75 points-per-game average.

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He also has one goal and two assists in his last five games. Ghost is second in average time on the ice with 21:13 minutes. He has seven even-strength assists tying him with Clayton Keller. He’s fourth in shots-on-goal with 43 through 20 games. Even with the team ranked 26th in power-play goal percentage with just 14 percent, he leads the squad with five power-play assists.

In other words, he’s making a difference on a team who has looked pretty terrible this season with a 4-14-2 record.

Head Coach Andre Tourigny Likes What he Sees in Gostisbehere

According to Tim Gulitti who is an NHL.com staff writer, Tournigy has this to say about his defenceman: “Everybody knows he’s a good puck mover and he can make plays with the puck, but his compete level and his attention to detail every day is pretty good as well. We’re happy about that. I did not know him before, I did not know what to expect in a sense of as a person or a pro athlete. I knew his skill set. But probably the fresh start (after the trade) was something he wanted or it’s something he’s taking full advantage of.”

It is always a pleasant surprise when a blueliner steps up to help the offensive unit. Gostisbehere has done exactly that by out scoring teammates like Keller (13 pts), Lawson Crouse (10 pts), and Phil Kessel (10 pts). One might compare his playing level with that of departed Oliver Ekman-Larsson when he led the team in scoring during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. If Ghost can continue on his current pace he will finish with about 61 points.  That would exceed OEL’s record of 55 points in the 2015-16 campaign.

During a Rebuild Every Contribution is Vital

Every student of the NHL knows that the Arizona Coyotes aren’t going anywhere this season. They hope to finish with a record which may qualify them to draft super talented generational player Shane Wright. Whether Gostisbehere will be here then is still debatable. He could very well be traded at the trade deadline, especially since his value has skyrocketed due to his early-season success. The Coyotes could also keep him since he is such an adept puck moving defencemen. He could play a vital role in helping to mentor young prospects the team hopes to draft. He could also assist a player like Victor Soderstrom going forward.

In any case, Gostisbehere is playing with such confidence now, it has certainly helped the team’s fortunes in this rebuild process. Many may have thought his NHL career wasn’t doing that well. For some NHL players, a change of scenery can really help them play to their capabilities. Thus far that certainly seems to be the case for Gostisbehere. Now if fellow defenceman Jakob Chychrun can get back to his form of last season, the Coyotes will possess two fairly decent D-men who can create havoc from the point.

Thus far Gostisbehere has exceeded expectations in the desert. His continued excellent play may or may not be put to use going forward depending on the rebuild plans.

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