When the Coyotes acquired Olli Jokinen from the Florida Panthers at this years NHL Entry Draft they created a huge hole in their defense by trading both defense-man Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton.
Ballard was a great offensive defense-man who also wasn’t afraid dishing out some of his trademark hip checks. He was loved in the dressing room as he was a great teammate.
Boynton on the other hand was a pure defensive specialist and a great leader on and off the ice. He was the type guy who would stick up for a fellow teammate no matter what the situation.
With these guys gone it was now GM Don Maloney’s time to replace them, which wasn’t an easy task. Maloney’s first step in replacing them was signing free agent Kurt Sauer previously of the Colorado Avalanche.
Sauer is a very good defensive specialist who is known for playing against some of the leagues best players like Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla on a night in night out basis.
After Maloney obtained Sauer he then got UFA defense-man David Hale signed to a contract. Hale is probably known most for currently holding the record most games played by an active player without scoring a goal at 215 games.
That fact doesn’t really matter because Hale is not paid to score goals, he is paid to defend and that is exactly what he does.
Sauer and Hale join a defensive corps that all ready includes an all-star defense-man in Ed Jovanovski, a great defender in Zbynek Michalek, an excellent veteran presence in Derek Morris, and a young offensively gifted defense-man in 21-year-old Keith Yandle.
Add up all of these defense-man together and you got a great mix of veteran and young players who are capable of guiding the Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-02 season.