The Below the Ice crew brings you; NHL: 31 for 31
This year as the clock ticks down towards the NHL season, the writers here at BTI will be bringing you our preview of all 31 NHL teams, in 31 days.
Sticking with the Pacific Division we have the Arizona Coyotes.
8th in the Pacific, 15th in the West, 29-41-12 (70 points)
Last season for Arizona, started probably the worst way it could of. It took the Coyotes until their 21st game before they finally secured their 1st regulation win of the season.It wasn’t all rough sailing though , as the Yotes’ finished their last 20 games with a 11-7-2 record.
The Coyotes failed to make the playoffs for the 6th straight season, since losing to the LA Kings in the 2011-12 Western Conference final.
- June 13, Traded Brandon Hickey and Mike Sislo for Hudson Fasching
- June 15, Traded Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk
- June 22, Selected Barrett Hayton 5th overall
- June 26, Signed Kevin Connauton to a 2-year contract $1.375 AAV
- June 29, Signed Niklas Hjalmarsson to a 2-year extension $5 AAV
- Julne 30, Signed OEL to a 8-year contract $8.25 AAV, Signed Michael Grabner to a 3-year contract 3.35 AAV
- August 8, Signed Christian Dvorak to 6-year extension $4.45 AAV
OFFSEASON GRADE: B-
Arizona GM Jon Chyka won the Domi for Galchenyuk trade in a landslide but other than that it was quiet off-season for Arizona on the Free Agent market. I know offers were put fourth to players like Patrick Maroon and James Van Reimsdyk but those never materialized.
The drafting of Barret Hayton 5th overall was a head scratcher for me, I had him outside of my top 10 but nonetheless, they got their man. Re-signing OEL was huge, proving that superstars can stay in the desert.
47GP: 21-17-9, .930SV%, 2.24GAA – 2017-18
Injury forced Raanta into only making 47 starts last season but he made the most with what he had. On what I would refer to as a ‘dumpster fire’ of a team last season, Raanta still managed a .930SV% good for 2nd in the NHL.
Raanta comes from the New York Rangers school of goaltending (Lundqvist, Talbot) which leads me to believe last year was not just an anomaly. If Raanta can make between 60-67 starts this season, with those numbers, he could bring the ‘Yotes back into the playoff fold and certainly himself into Vezina talks.
2018-19 Projection: 65GP: 30-23-12 .929SV%, 2.35GAA
82GP: 19G, 32A – 2017-18
Acquired in the offseason for Max Domi in what some would call a lopsided trade for the Coyotes, Galchenyuk might finally be able to become the 30-goal scorer he was in 2015-16.
Claude Julien as a coach clearly wasn’t a fit for Galchenyuk, Julien had ‘Chucky’ playing off his game and out of his natural position, making him worry so much about the defensive side of the game that his offensive side dried up.
A fresh start for Galchenyuk could also be a good thing, the outside pressures in a market like Arizona compared to Montreal is a complete 180 and he might finally be able to find some peace and quiet. Expect Galchenyuk to swing into old form playing along younger, more talented line mates in his first season in the desert.
2018-19 Projection: 30G, 35A
DUE TO REGRESS:
On a team without any overachievers its hard to see any regression from the Arizona Coyotes because frankly, it can’t get much worse.
The best candidates for regression on the roster today are Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller.
Stepan, is a consistent 50 point player and has finished between 53-57 points in each of the last 5 seasons, so count on him to repeat that trend and count him out for a setback at only 28 years old.
Keller, is also coming off an outstanding rookie season, which he could repeat, if he can avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. His sample size isn’t big enough for me to know if last year was his ceiling or floor at this point, so count him out as well.
7th in the Pacific, 14th in the west, 80 points
It’s only a matter of time before Arizona turns the corner and becomes a playoff contender … Just not this year.
They have plenty of pieces in place for the future; Keller, Hayton, Strome, Chychrun, Dvorak, Fischer. For now though they are still a work in progress and will need to take time to develop.
A healthy Raanta could make all the difference or the increased work load of a 60-70 game NHL season could get to the netminder.
I believe that John Chyka, believes he has a plan in place. Luckily for him, I also believe his leash is long in Arizona, who are in for the long haul and a very long season.
Come back tomorrow for the continuation of our 31 in 31 series where we look at our 3rd team from the Pacific Division; The Calgary Flames.