No team has ever made their tanking as apparent as the Coyotes did this offseason. They lost all three of their goalies, dealt their franchise icon and two top-six forwards. The Coyotes also took on a ton of salary in exchange for all of the picks in the world. In this upcoming draft, Arizona has 8 picks in the first two rounds. Eight! Those days will probably be the best of the season for the team. The actual games look to be a struggle.
Offseason additions: D Shayne Gostisbehere, F Dmitrij Jaskin, F Ryan Dzingel, D Anton Stralman, F Jay Beagle, G Carter Hutton, F Antoine Roussel, F Andrew Ladd, G Josef Korenar, D Conor Timmins, F Travis Boyd.
Offseason subtractions: F Conor Garland, D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, F Christian Dvorak, G Darcy Kuemper, G Antti Raanta, G Adin Hill, D Alex Goligoski, D Niklas Hjalmarsson, F Derick Brassard, F Tyler Pitlick, F Michael Bunting, D Jason Demers, F Drake Caggiula, F Dryden Hunt, D Jordan Oesterle.
Only three forwards on the team are signed past this upcoming season, two of which give the team positive contributions. After a dominant rookie season that earned him a long-term contract, Clayton Keller is yet to reach that level again. In his past three seasons, Keller has not scored 20 goals or hit 50 points. 2020-21 saw his lowest production yet, partially because of the shortened season. Keller put up 14 goals with just 35 points. After Christian Dvorak was traded, the pressure is on the remaining centers. Nick Schmaltz is the most acclaimed of the bunch, although he has scored just 26 goals in 139 games in Arizona. Ten of those came last year, along with 22 assists. Veteran sniper Phil Kessel could be dealt early on in the season. He quietly led the team with 20 goals and 43 points. In 56 games, that is a 29 goal pace over 82 games, something more like the Kessel of years past. Right winger Christian Fischer scored 26 goals over his first two full seasons, but had just three last year. He is a solid defensive winger on the penalty kill. Coming in on a prove-it deal is Ryan Dzingel, the speedy winger who went back to Ottawa after a rough stint in Carolina. In 29 games with the Senators, he scored six times with three assists. He will get a lot of ice time in Arizona to boost his numbers. The pressure is on for 2018 5th overall pick Barrett Hayton. He has just seven points in 34 NHL games. In the AHL last year, he was awful. Hayton’s 10 points in 26 games was a massive disappointment. He can win the second-line center job without much competition. A former depth winger with the Blues, Dmitrij Jaskin is back in the NHL after scoring 38 goals in 59 games over in Russia. He only signed a one year deal, so a deal at the deadline seems likely. Johan Larsson has proved in the past to be an elite defensive fourth line center. He could move up to the third line this year. His 14 points was actually tenth on the team. While a 5.7 percent shooting rate played its part, Lawson Crouse was still a massive disappointment last year. He potted just four goals. The big winger is still just 24, but his development has completely stopped. Can Jan Jenik make the team? The 2018 third-rounder had 14 points in 29 AHL games. He then scored twice in the two NHL games he got into. He will be just 21 this year. Antoine Roussel is still a physical force, but he scored just once in 35 games for Vancouver. He can capture a fourth line role. So can his Canucks teammates Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson. They combined for a goal in 37 games. Travis Boyd, another ex-Canuck, can steal the fourth-line center spot from Beagle. He scored five goals in 39 games last year despite just 23 shots. Andrew Ladd is a long shot after not even being an AHL regular last season.
The Coyotes really needed anyone to step up last year and Jakob Chychrun did. He blossomed into one of the league’s best defenders on an amazing contract. Chychrun was second on the team with 18 goals and 41 points. He finished 10th in the league in Norris voting. The Coyotes do not have a clear guy to play on Chychrun’s right side. It could be a bit of a stretch to say that 2019 first-rounder Victor Soderstrom is ready for the role. He put up 10 points in 32 AHL games, earning him a four-game NHL stint. Soderstrom had a goal and an assist during that period. The Coyotes took on a second-round pick with Shayne Gostisbehere’s contract. He still has offensive talent, but was often healthy scratched in Philadelphia. Nine of his 20 points in 2020-21 came on the power play. With most of last year’s right-side leaving, Ilya Lyubushkin will have an expanded role. The defensive defenseman has never played in more than 51 games in a season, but he has reached 100 hits in each of his three NHL years. Veteran Anton Stralman also comes in as part of a cap dump. He struggled over his two seasons in Florida. Stralman could really be placed anywhere in this lineup. The final spot is a fight between Conor Timmins and Kyle Capobianco. Timmins comes in from Colorado for Darcy Kuemper. He had seven assists in 31 games for the Avalanche. Capobianco could have a boost being a left-hander. He has just 14 NHL games under his belt but had 13 points in 20 AHL games last year.
With Kuemper, Adin Hill, and Antti Raanta gone, the goaltending will be rough. Carter Hutton was brought in to become the starter/tank commander. While injured, Hutton put up a 3.47 GAA with an .886 SV% in 13 games. Coming over from San Jose for Hill is Josef Korenar. The young Czech native had an .899 save percentage in his first 10 NHL games. 2018 4th rounder Ivan Prosvetov played in NHL games last year but was still awful in the AHL.
Clayton Keller – Nick Schmaltz – Phil Kessel
Ryan Dzingel – Barrett Hayton – Christian Fischer
Jan Jenik – Johan Larsson – Dmitrij Jaskin
Lawson Crouse – Jay Beagle – Antoine Roussel
Extras: Travis Boyd, Loui Eriksson, Andrew Ladd
Jakob Chychrun – Victor Soderstrom
Shayne Gostisbehere – Ilya Lyubushkin
Anton Stralman – Conor Timmins
Extras: Kyle Capobianco
The prediction with the Coyotes is not whether they will make the playoffs; we already know that they won’t. But will they finish last in the whole league? Only the Sabres are a real threat. Commence the tankathon!