The Arizona Coyotes have more to worry about than where they are going to play next season. They are in need of a breakout year, but nothing they try seems to help. There are those who believe that a “tank” might be the best thing for the franchise. However, getting draft picks isn’t the problem. The issue lies with Arizona’s difficulty in developing talent at home. They have had to rely on bringing in players, and lately, it has not worked out for them. During the offseason, they made quite a few subtractions from the team. This is essentially a teardown, so the questions to contemplate would all be about rebuilding.
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Star power on this side of the puck has always been hard to come by. The Coyotes have tried to make pieces fit (Phil Kessel a great example), but either nothing changes, or it gets worse. Loui Eriksson, Alex Galchenyuk, and Andrew Ladd are all going to need to step up and have a great season. Like others on this Coyotes team, they are looking to prove a lot to everyone and themselves. In addition, Clayton Keller and Lawson Crouse will be expected to take another step forward in their development. Some look to Keller to be a player that will be a part of the future of the Coyotes.
Getting Shayne Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers was a good plan. However, he will need to improve his stats and get his confidence back. Alongside him, Jakob Chychrun is expected to make even more contributions on the ice. He’s a great player and appears to be an impressive two-way defenseman. Conor Timmins has potential, and he will have more of a chance to showcase his abilities with Arizona than he would with the Colorado Avalanche. All the players on the defensive side of the puck will need to make sure they don’t accidentally leave their goaltenders hanging.
With Antti Raanta leaving for the Carolina Hurricanes and the trade of Darcy Kuemper to the Avalanche, the goaltending is an unknown quantity this season. However, they will have a couple of capable netminders in Carter Hutton and Karel Vejmelka. They also traded to get Josef Korenar from the San Jose Sharks. Hutton is the most experienced in the NHL out of all the goalies they have, so he’s poised to be the No. 1 goaltender this season. In the 13 games he started for the Buffalo Sabres last season, he posted a 3.47 goals-against average and a 0.886 save percentage. Not bad, but not terribly good, either. Just average.
He was not having the most fantastic season with the Flyers before they traded him, so the hope is a change of scenery will help him. Gostisbehere needs to have a bounce-back season, not only to help the team, but himself as well. Having less pressure may give him the chance to breathe and be the defenseman he was before. Arizona undoubtedly needs that for a plethora of reasons.
The Coyotes are going to need Hutton to backstop a team that may not be going anywhere. He’s signed to a one-year deal, so he has something to prove not only to himself but to his team and fans as well. He can make a difference for Arizona if the defense doesn’t hang him out to dry.
Biggest Question Facing the Coyotes
Where they will live and play next season? The question has to weigh not only on the minds of the front office but the players, as well. Despite being focused on winning, it contributes to how they play the game. They want to show everyone they belong in Arizona, getting approval from fans, and a place to call home.
It’s going to be difficult for the Coyotes to make the playoffs. Is it possible? Sure. You never know what might happen during the course of a season. They have been average over the past few seasons. Are they ready to be an underdog? Perhaps. It’s going to be a long season for them, and if other teams take the game for granted, Arizona may end up surprising them.
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