The Arizona Coyotes ended the season eighth in the Central Division with 57 points. Unfortunately, that number also landed them in the next to last spot in the league. It was not a great way for the season to end for the rebuilding, injury-ridden team. However, for a team that started off the season with ten straight losses, they battled throughout the season, never giving up despite only winning 20 games.
This season, eight different players scored their first career NHL goals this season, and Nick Schmaltz set a franchise record for the most points in a single game with seven against the Ottawa Senators on March 5. Phil Kessel played in all 82 games, extending his run to 982 consecutive games played. He is eight games away from breaking Keith Yandle‘s consecutive-games played streak of 989, and he was third on the team in points with 52, with 44 assists.
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 13.86% (30th)
Penalty Kill: 75% (29th)
Goals For: 207 (32nd)
Goals Against: 313 (31st)
Clayton Keller was a bright star on this rather dim Coyotes team. He led the team with 28 goals and 63 points in 67 games. Keller’s 28 goals weren’t only a career-high but also the most by a Coyotes player since Shane Doan in the 2015-16 season. His numbers might have been even closer to a point per game or higher if he had not injured his right leg in a game against the San Jose Sharks at the end of March. Keller produced 16 multi-point games and is four goals shy of having 100 career goals.
Can an entire organization be considered the biggest disappointment? If not, the front office or management would undoubtedly land firmly in this category. With all the issues the Coyotes have faced over the last few seasons, it is no wonder they are struggling. As a temporary fix for the arena situation, they have a one-year agreement to jointly market and sell sponsorships at Arizona State University’s new multi-purpose arena. At least they will have the stability of a home to play hockey in through the 2024-25 NHL season and possibly the 2025-26 season.
Behind the Bench Analysis
André Tourigny’s first year as head coach has not been the easiest, but he knew that before accepting the position. Despite the setbacks and the losses, he has done an excellent job of keeping the focus on the games and not worrying about what he cannot control. He and his coaching staff have been able to implement the new system, though it took the players a while to get used to it. Around midseason, it was more noticeable in the consistent play throughout the games and how the players were more in tune with each other. Tourigny has gotten the team on the right path to get to where they want to be, which is a winning team.
Front Office Analysis
Arena issues aside, management and the general manager Bill Armstrong have gone scorched earth with the Coyotes. As of right now, it seems that hiring Tourigny as the head coach was a promising start, plus the plan continues to be on the rebuild path instead of a retool. Getting rid of good players in exchange for draft picks who might take a while to be NHL ready is a gamble they are still willing to bet on. Even though the Coyotes had a losing season, no one is panicking; they are staying on their plotted course.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Picks
Arizona has a plethora of picks in the first two rounds. In the first round, they have three, which includes the third overall pick. The second round gives them four more, and then they have one pick in the third, fifth and sixth rounds. This gives the front office flexibility, allowing the possibility to package a few of those picks in a trade or keep them and draft a player. Armstrong believes in using the draft to rebuild to get to the championship; It will be interesting to see what he and his staff decide to do in Montreal.
After the draft, they have quite a few tough decisions to make in the offseason. Players like Kessel, Loui Eriksson, Anton Stralman, and Andrew Ladd will be unrestricted free agents, so will they be traded, or will Arizona let them go. If the Coyotes follow their game plan, more than likely, we should see those players traded for picks or prospects if they can’t be resigned. Then, the franchise will need to find a way to get the fans to continue to buy into the plan they have in mind, some type of good faith gesture to soothe the minds of worried fans. The arena deal was a good start, and the upcoming multitude of draft picks is an excellent next step, but they need to show progress. Otherwise, they may not lose just the fans but their home as well.
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