After four seasons of playing the backup role in Chicago and New York, Antti Raanta came to Arizona with the goal of owning the No. 1 goalie job for the Coyotes. He’s done just that and has been rewarded with a three-year extension, as 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro reported Thursday night. The deal carries a $4.25 million cap hit, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
When the Coyotes decided against trading Raanta before the February trade deadline, which could have brought back assets to build on for the future, it was a clear sign they wanted to retain him going forward. In 45 starts this season, the 28-year-old netminder has posted a .935 even strength save percentage, and while the team has playing better of late, he’s put up a .952 in his last 25 starts.
While he was bothered by an early-season injury and banged up from a car accident, Raanta, who was acquired along with Derek Stepan via trade during the 2017 NHL draft, has managed to reach career highs in minutes and wins this season. With a young core that’s been gelling and productive since March 1, locking up the goaltending position is an important move for the franchise as the off-season arrives in the desert.
This summer could also see some answers develop in what the future holds for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s eligible to sign an extension on July 1 as he enters the final year of his deal and the Swedish blue liner continues to express his happiness in Arizona.
“It’s just money. It’s not going to make you happier. It might make your life a little bit easier but it’s not going to make you happier,” Ekman-Larsson said last month when asked how big of a factor the dollar amount will be in his next contract. “I feel if you’re around good people, that’s what makes you happy. I feel like I have that here. This is where I want to be.”