NHL Team Preview: Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes are embracing the tank and appear to be racing towards the bottom of the standings. With a ton of draft pick arsenal, including three first-round picks and five second-round picks, including their own in each round but the seventh, the Coyotes have little incentive to win games. While the players will certainly give it their best on the ice each night, this roster could look dramatically different at the end of the year.
In the blockbuster trade of the offseason, the Coyotes sent defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks for Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, a 2021 first-round pick (used to select Dylan Guenther), a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2022 seventh-round pick.
Roussel, Beagle, and Eriksson will make up the Coyotes’ fourth line, carrying a $12 million cap hit. The three combined for two goals and eight assists in 72 games last season.
Arizona also acquired defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere as somewhat of a reclamation project from the Philadelphia Flyers. Gostisbehere scored 65 points during the 2017-18 season, but he’s totaled 69 points in three seasons since then. If he can bounce back in Arizona, where he’s likely to see an expanded role and more ice time, he could be a solid pickup.
Joining Gostisbehere defensively is Conor Timmins, who was previously with the Colorado Avalanche. The Yotes traded for Timmins, a 2022 first-round pick, and a conditional third-round pick in 2024 for goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
The Coyotes are rolling with three goaltenders new to the franchise this season. Carter Hutton is the starting goalie after spending the last three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. Hutton has a 94-90-27 record, a 2.76 GAA, a .908 save percentage, and 13 shutouts in his career.
Karel Vejmelka has yet to play in the NHL after being drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2015, but he signed an entry-level deal with Arizona this summer. Vejmelka may beat out Josef Korenar, who the Coyotes acquired by sending Adin Hill to the San Jose Sharks.
Korenar may be the long-term answer between the pipes, but all three are on one-year deals. Hutton is also a potential player to move at the trade deadline, carrying a veteran minimum cap hit. Teams in need of goaltending depth will likely inquire.
Jakob Chychrun broke onto the scene last season, leading all NHL defensemen in goals (18) and finishing second among all Coyotes skaters in the same category. Despite the condensed 56-game schedule, Chychrun set career highs in points (41), power-play points (14), and shooting percentage (10.2%).
Chychrun is one of only two defensemen currently on the roster who is signed beyond the 2022-23 season. The other is Victor Söderström, who was Arizona’s first-round pick (11th overall) in 2019. Söderström is on his entry-level deal and should debut for the Coyotes this season.
Keep an eye on Phil Kessel throughout this season. Kessel is Arizona’s best offensive player and could be a trade target for teams at the deadline in need of a scoring winger with Stanley Cup experience. Though Arizona may retain some of his caps hit, he should fetch a considerable term, as Kessel is in the final year of a deal carrying a $6.8 million hit. Last season, we saw teams get creative at the deadline with salary retention so that a third team could be involved, as Arizona can only retain up to half that hit ($3.4 million). The more salary retained, the higher the return.
Finally, Christian Fischer needs a breakout season this year. Despite playing in nearly every game since his callup, Fischer’s point total has dropped off every year since his career-best 33 points in 2017-18. Arizona’s second-round pick in 2015, Fischer, is in the final year of his contract as well. To stay in the NHL beyond this season, he’ll need to be more productive at both ends of the ice.
Arizona Coyotes Season Predictions and Odds
2021-22 Over/Under Point Total: OVER/UNDER 67.5 (both are -110) Central Division Title Odds: +30000 (lowest odds) Western Conference Champions Odds: +10000 (tied for the lowest odds) Stanley Cup Odds: +20000 (tied for the lowest odds)
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.