The Arizona coyotes made some of the league’s bigger splashes during the offseason, after finishing 2016-2017 with the leagues fourth worst record. Arizona added a new head coach in Rick Tocchet, as well as some new faces on the ice. The Arizona Coyotes 2017-2018 season preview examines whether the moves will be enough to return the team to the postseason.
On offense the Coyotes brought in center man Derek Stepan from the New York Rangers. Stepan, who had been the talk of many potential trades, should slot in as the team’s first line center. He put up 55 points in 81 games last year while posting a +19 rating, and should help the team both in both the offensive and defensive departments.
Arizona will likely promote former third-overall pick Dylan Strome to a full-time NHL job this season. Strome has spent the last three seasons dominating the OHL as a member of the Erie Otters, and while the Coyotes have stated their patience in his development, he has proven with his 315 points over the last three seasons that he has out grown junior hockey. Strome has a good chance to be in the Calder Trophy discussion at the end of the year should he spend the entire season in Arizona.
Another young player on the Cotoyes, Max Domi, finished third on the team in scoring despite missing 23 games due to injury in the 2016-2017 season. The gritty forward put up 38 points in his 59 games last year and is expected to be near the top of the team in terms of scoring if he can stay healthy.
The ‘Yotes biggest loss on offense comes from the departure of their leading scorer Radim Vrabata to the Florida Panthers. Vrabata led the team in goals with 20 as well as in points with 55 in the 2016-2017 season. The team also cut ties with Shane Doan, who had been the star of the Franchise for the last 21 years. While Doan had certainly been on the decline, he is still a serviceable player who could have played third line role for the team. Arizona will look to replace these two slots in the roster with the youth that they have been stockpiling over the recent years.
Arizona’s defensive corps will look solid for the 2017-2018 season if they stay healthy. Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the team’s defensemen in points last season with 39. The team also acquired Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago, who is a very solid top four player. Jakob Chychrun should also play a large role for Arizona this season.. The 16th overall pick in last year’s draft has the potential to log a lot of minutes in shutdown role for the team while improving on his point total of 20 from last season. Also look for Alex Goligoski to eat minutes for the ‘Yotes. Last season the Minnesota native averaged 23:19 minutes of ice-time per game. Kevin Connauton, Luke Schenn, and Adam Clendening will round out the defense.
The Coyote’s crease has seen some major changes this offseason. After six seasons with the organization, Mike Smith was traded to the Calagary Flames, making room for Antti Raanta, who was acquired along with Stepan in Arizona’s trade with the Rangers. Raanta played very well last season while Henrik Lundqvist was inured. Raanta made his case that he was ready to take on a starting role by posting at 2.26 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Raanta’s understudy will be Louis Domingue who has spent the last 2 season’s as Smith’s full-time backup. Louis Domingue definitely has room for improvement after posting a 3.08 GAA and .908 save percentage last year.
Arizona Coyotes 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
Do not expect the Coyotes to make the playoffs this year. They may have made some the biggest improvements out of any team this offseason, but the Western Conference is looking as strong as ever. Their offseason acquisitions, as well as the potential development of their youth may lead to a slightly better season than last year but not enough to make it to the postseason.
- The acquisition of Derek Stepan should increase the team’s offensive output while he factors in on defense as well
- Goaltender Antti Raanta looks ready to take on starter’s role and should be sufficient to replace Mike Smith
- The Coyotes made some of the bigger offseason acquisitions but they do not look to be enough for the team to beat out other Western Conference teams for a playoff spot