A 70 point finish led to the Arizona Coyotes finishing 6th in the Pacific division, and missing the playoffs once again. But, the youngsters are starting to develop. With new head coach Rick Tocchet, the Coyotes are looking to exit the tough years of the rebuild. While losing franchise icon Shane Doan, GM John Chayka brought in some nice, experienced veterans to lead their team. Here\’s a quick look at what they did.
Notable additions: C Derek Stepan, C Nick Cousins, D Niklas Hjalmarsson, D Adam Clendening, G Antti Raanta.
Notable subtractions: RW Shane Doan, RW Radim Vrbata, C Laurent Dauphin, D Connor Murphy, D Anthony DeAngelo, G Mike Smith, C Josh Jooris
Here are my projected forward lines.
Max Domi – Derek Stepan – Anthony Duclair
Jamie McGinn – Nick Cousins – Tobias Rieder
Clayton Keller – Dylan Strome – Christian Fischer
Lawson Crouse – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Perlini
The first line is their best two forwards, Domi and Stepan, and Duclair, who can bounce back in year three playing with two stars. The second line is their remaining non-rookie-and-sophomores. The bottom six is just their youngsters. If any of them have a bad training camp, and start in the AHL, or someone gets hurt, Jordan Martinook and Brad Richardson can fill in.
Here are my projected defensive pairs
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Jakob Chychrun
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski – Adam Clendening
Chychrun, the 19 year old, plays on his offside here, but gets to play with a top-5 defenseman in the league in \”OEL\”. Goligoski is a top-4 defenseman, but is playing on the third pair because he\’s left-handed, and not right-handed. Hjalmarsson is a better defenseman, so he gets to play on the top-4. Chychrun also could be out for awhile, so prospect Kyle Wood should replace him. If someone else goes down, Kevin Connaton will probably their replacement.
Raanta developed from a backup to a starter with the Rangers last year. This year, he\’ll finally get the chance to be a full-time starter in the desert. Domingue has gotten the chance to be a starter in Arizona sometimes, but he\’s really just a fringe-goalie.
The Coyotes got significantly better this offseason. As a result, I think they\’ll improve by eight points to 78 points, but still finish sixth in the Pacific division. Also, I have a wacky prediction that the Coyotes will win the lottery for a top three pick in the 2018 NHL draft.