Saturday, September 23, 2017
NHL Preview 2017-18: Arizona Coyotes
Coach: Rick Tocchet (since 2017). 6/10
2016-17 record: 30-42-10, 70 points, 27th overall.
Departures: Dave Tippett (Head Coach), Shane Doan (RW), Radim Vrbata (RW), Connor Murphy (D), Mike Smith (G), Anthony DeAngelo (D), Alex Burmistrov (C), Josh Jooris (C), Laurent Dauphin (C), Peter Holland (C), Teemu Pulkkinen (RW).
Arrivals: Derek Stepan (C), Antti Raanta (G), Jason Demers (D), Niklas Hjalmarsson (D), Nick Cousins (C), Emerson Etem (RW), Adam Clendening (D), Joel Hanley (D).
Top forwards: Stepan (55-65 points), Max Domi (45-55 points), Clayton Keller (35-45 points), Anthony Duclair (35-40 points), Christian Dvorak (35-40 points), Brendan Perlini (25-30 points), Tobias Reider (35 points), Dylan Strome (30-35 points), Lawson Crouse (15-25 points), Cousins (15 points).
Must-improve forward: Duclair will bounce back, there is no doubt in my mind. Kids need time, and this kid was a tad more difficult to begin with - remember, he'd fallen from the first round to 80th overall (late third round) at the 2013 draft.
Top defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (40-50 points), Alex Goligoski (30-40 points), Jakob Chychrun (20-30 points), Demers (25-30 points), Hjalmarsson (20-25 points).
Goalies: Raanta (84/100), Louis Domingue (79/100).
Top rookies: Keller (19 years old, C, 2016 first-round draft pick), Strome (20, C, 3rd-overall pick at the 2015 draft), Christian Fischer (20, RW), Kyle Wood (21, D), Nick Merkley (20, C, 2015 first-round draft pick).
The 'Yotes are all-in for a playoff spot this year, because they need to sell season-ticket subscriptions or risk having to leave the state altogether.
And so they changed their coaching staff, traded for a true #1 center, likely improved in net, added Hjalmarsson and Demers on D and some decent depth up front in the form of Cousins and Etem, all while youngsters like Domi, Duclair, Strome, Keller and Dvorak look to keep progressing, under the tutelage of new captain Ekman-Larsson.
They will be in it until the very end, but I think they will miss the final Wild Card spot in the West by a point or two.
Prediction: 4th in the Pacific Division.