Dom Lunardo Aug 11th, 2019
It was an up-tempo and interesting off-season for the Arizona Coyotes. Like many other markets across the United States of America, the hockey team often plays second or even third-fiddle to their NFL, MLB, and NBA franchises. But as we inch closer to kick-starting another NHL season, few in the hockey world would argue that the “Yotes” have added some “pep in their step”.
In the front-office, General Manager John Chayka, who still remains the youngest GM in the league, introduced new majority owner, Alex Meruelo to the fold. Meruelo is the very first Hispanic owner in league history and brings with him an impressive resume and wealth of experience. This support off the ice should complement the product on it in the coming years.
Entering his third season behind the bench, it’s safe to say that Head Coach Rick Tocchet has done a masterful job with the team in front of him. His coaching style and ability to communicate and work with young players has changed the entire culture in the desert. A team that was absolutely decimated by injuries in 2018/19 performed admirably for Tocchet, and that’s a huge plus for a young team moving forward. Although the team played fairly well down the stretch, at times their youth and inexperience in the biggest moments proved to be their undoing.
Notable Off-Season Additions: F Phil Kessel, F Carl Soderberg
Notable Off-Season Subtractions: F Richard Panik (WAS), F Alex Galchenyuk (PIT), D Kevin Connauton (COL), F Nick Cousins (MTL)
Top Prospects: G Adin Hill, F Conor Garland
Breakout Candidates: F Lawson Crouse, D Jakob Chychrun
Although often overlooked by various experts around the National Hockey League, there’s a lot to like about this Coyotes team. Their youthful exuberance nicely compliments how hard they play for their coach, and for one another. The acquisition of Phil Kessel also provides added star-power and natural scoring touch that was so desperately missed last season. This move, combined with a fully healthy and on-form Clayton Keller, should help the Coyotes score and produce offense on a more consistent basis. Between the pipes, the goaltending tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta should continue to provide both consistency and stability, and nicely complement the D-core which includes the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, youngster Jakob Chychrun, and veterans Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers.
Prediction: Wild Card Berth
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images