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Arizona Coyotes to promote 26-year-old John Chayka to GM role

John Chayka will be named the next general manager of the Arizona Coyotes, replacing Don Maloney who was fired on April 11.

The team has said it will have a “major press conference” Thursday morning where a source said Chayka will be announced as the team’s GM.

ESPN’s Craig Custance initially reported the news. 

The rest of the structure of the team’s hockey operations will also be announced.

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The Coyotes hired the 26-year-old Chayka last summer as assistant GM to bring a more analytical element to the organization. When Arizona relieved Maloney of his duties, co-owner Anthony LeBlanc talked up Chayka’s abilities, but also noted he didn’t want the organization to go too strongly in an stats-driven direction.

“He has absolutely been a very impressive hire. A very poised young man – mature beyond his years. He’s been an incredibly positive addition to this organization. I really got to witness it first hand when I sat in the war room in Pittsburgh for trade deadline,” LeBlanc said. “Just the sheer amount of knowledge he brings. But at the end of the day it’s not like it’s a new thing in sports – it’s obviously been well documented, the importance of analytics. But it’s not the be-all-end-all. I’m not sitting here saying we’re going to turn ourselves into a Wall Street firm and have 25 kids here doing numbers, but I think there’s a fine balance and that’s what we’re trying to find.” 

Originally it was believed the Coyotes were interested in the services of 30-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas. But Dubas, who also strongly pushes analytics in hockey, said he doesn’t believe he’s ready to take over a general manager’s role.  

Arizona also reportedly spoke with Dallas Stars assistant general manager Les Jackson, but no deal was reached. After that point Chayka appeared to be the front-runner with the Coyotes reportedly looking to hire an experienced assistant GM to help Chayka. They will also reportedly expand role of coach Dave Tippett. 

Chayka is co-founder of Stathletes, “a Canadian company, founded with the purpose of developing a comprehensive statistical database to drive winning in hockey through real, actionable data.” 

The Coyotes roster has a lot of young talent, but also some questions that need to be addressed. Declining goaltender Mike Smith is still under contract for another three seasons at $5.67 million per-year.  

Captain Shane Doan needs to make a choice if he wants to play another season. And if the 39-year-old Doan decides on another year, what will the Coyotes pay him if he wants to return to the team? Doan just finished a four-year $21.2 million contract.

The Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season. Arizona's opening was the only general manager vacancy still unfilled this NHL offseason.  

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

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