This 31-part series chronicles why each team is going to be competitive in the 2018-2019 NHL season. Progressing alphabetically, three teams will be featured weekly during the off-season. A compendium 31-part series will be published by Hockey Troll on www.BeerLeagueTalk.com on why your team is trash in the 2018-2019 NHL season. (See that one here)

Check out my overview of why the Coyotes will be trash

Check out my overview of why other teams will be good this year

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Arizona Coyotes

2017-2018 Regular Season: 70 points (last in West)

This article should be retitled “Why your team won’t be picking first in 2019: Arizona Coyotes”.  It seems like such distant history, but the Coyotes actually won the pacific division and advanced to the WCF in 2011-12.  Since that franchise high water mark, the Coyotes have missed the playoffs for the past 6 consecutive seasons.  Honestly, it’s hard to be optimistic about a franchise that is still acquiring LTIR contracts (Bolland and Hossa) just to meet the cap floor.  As of today, the ‘Yotes have > 10 million in cap space with no free agents left to be re-signed and ~11 million in LTIR money.  That doesn’t mean that you should abandon all hope Coyotes fans, but set your expectations accordingly.

Image result for full body castIntroducing the newest member of the Arizona Coyotes!

The brightest spot for the franchise is their roster construction, which is built from the net outward.  Antti Raanta is a super-underrated goaltender (when healthy).  Arizona took a chance on him when they signed up to a 4-year contract valued at 4.25 million/year, but he proved to be the real deal.  He posted a 2.24 GAA (3rd best in the league) and 93% save percentage (2nd best in the league) on the third-worst team in the NHL.  Those numbers were actually better than what he posted when backing up Lundqvist on the Rangers from 2015-2017.  I don’t think it should be too surprising considering that their top-4 defensive core (OEL, Goligoski, Demers and Hjalmarsson) is actually better than average.

Image result for frodo
When he isn’t playing hockey, Ekman-Larsson is saving us from Sauron

The biggest issue with the Coyotes is their lack of offense (2.5 goals/game), especially from their forwards.  The addition of Grabner and Galchenyuk this offseason should help with secondary scoring, but they need Keller and Dvorak to become primary scoring options.  The Coyotes have a really interesting mixture of extremely young talent on forward (average age: 24.3) and mature defensemen.  This is a good problem to have…unless your forwards are peaking at the same time as your defensemen are free falling.  John Chayka, (their GM) obviously as a long-term plan for the franchise, but acquiring Hossa’s cap hit this off-season signals that they are still rebuilding.  The “success” of this team lies squarely on Raanta and the defense.  If they can continue to allow sub-2.5 goals per game, the offensive production will come in due time.

Check out my overview of why the Coyotes will be trash

Check out my overview of why other teams will be good this year

Check out our podcasts

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