Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Arizona Coyotes 2018-19 season preview



       After not winning a regulation game in the first 21 games of 2017-18, the Arizona Coyotes ended up finishing 29th overall, and failing to eclipse 80 points for the 4th straight season. They haven't made the playoffs since 2011-12, and have only made it past round one once, when they reached the Conference finals in 2012. A young team that seems to get younger each year, let's look at some fast facts for the Arizona Coyotes.

Head Coach: Rick Tocchet
General Manger: John Chayka
Arena: Gila River Arena
AHL Affiliate: Tucson Roadrunners
2017-18 record: 29-41-12 (70 points)
2017-18 placement: 8th
Division: Pacific
2017-18 goals leader: Clayton Keller (23)
2017-18 assists leader: Clayton Keller, Derek Stepan (42)
2017-18 points leader: Clayton Keller (65)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Oliver Ekman-Larsson (42)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, Brad Richardson, Derek Stepan
2018 first round selection: Barrett Hayton

Offseason additions: Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Grabner, Jordan Oesterle, Vinnie Hinostroza.
Offseason subtractions: Max Domi, Jordan Martinook, Luke Schenn, Zac Rinaldo.

Forwards: At age 19, Clayton Keller lead the team in goals and points, and tied for the lead in assists, en route to finishing third in Calder voting. Fellow rookies Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer totaled 15 goals each, plus 17 from Brendan Perlini. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were both traded away within the last year, as Richard Panik and Alex Galchenyuk entered. Galchenyuk will be a much better second line center than Domi would have been. Grabner is a speedy third liner that can easily score 20 goals. 2015 third overall pick Dylan Strome could actually have a full season in the NHL. Nick Merkley and Lawson Crouse are also fighting for spots.

Forward lines:

Clayton Keller - Derek Stepan - Richard Panik
Brendan Perlini - Alex Galchenyuk - Christian Fischer
Michael Grabner - Christian Dvorak - Nick Cousins
Lawson Crouse - Dylan Strome - Vinnie Hinostroza
Other: Brad Richardson, Nick Merkley, Mario Kempe.
Injured: Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland.

Defense: After signing a new mega deal with the team, Oliver Ekman-Larsson will likely be named captain. He scored 42 points in 2017-18, but that was a down year for him. This is a defenseman who scored 44 goals in his age 23 and 24 seasons. He's a top 10 defender in the league. Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers are veteran presences all playing top 4 roles. Injuries limited Jakob Chychrun to just 50 games as a 19 year old, but he will come back strong. The sixth defenseman, Kevin Connauton sneakily scored 11 goals.

Defensive pairings:

Oliver Ekman Larsson - Jason Demers
Alex Goligoski - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob Chychrun - Kevin Connauton
Other: Jordan Oesterle.

Goalies: Antti Raanta had a very good 2017-18, with a .930 SV% and 2.24 GAA. He will once again start most games for AZ. Darcy Keumper comes back to back up Raanta.

Goalie alignment:

Antti Raanta
Darcy Keumper
Other: Adin Hill

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Clayton Keller
Alex Galchenyuk
Derek Stepan
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Richard Panik

Playoffs: No
Division spot: 7th

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