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Players On the Cusp of Helping Coyotes

September 2, 2019, 8:12 PM ET [55 Comments]
James Tanner
Arizona Coyotes Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Arizona Coyotes will be looking to build on the somewhat successful season they had last year.

As it stands, the Coyotes are probably one of the longest shots to make the playoffs, since the thing they were good at last year is not exactly repeatable, and they didn't do nearly enough to upgrade the thing they were bad at.

If having a team that is below league average in star-player matchups while having a slightly above average fourth line and third defense pairing is your idea of a strong team, then the Coyotes are the team for you.

The Coyotes did nothing this offseason (they added Phil Kessel and that is essentially it) in what was termed "extremely disappointing" by the world's foremost Arizona Coyotes expert (it's me, so I can confirm, that is a direct quote).

One reason for this apparent lackadaisical approach to team building is a possible belief in players that will potentially be competing for jobs that are already in the organization.

I talked about Barrett Hayton last week, and how he is expected to potentially earn a job in this year's training camp. Hayton is the team's top prospect by six miles and the only player they have that currently project to being a first liner.

However, there are two other interesting pieces that could potentially help now:

Kyle Capobianco is 22 and is coming off a season in which he scored 32 points in 40 games and was one of the best defensemen in the AHL.

He should be in the NHL this year.

With Chychrun and OEL playing the two top-four left side slots, all Capobianco has to do is beat out Jordan Oesterle. Oesterle is a decent bottom pairing guy, but the upside of Capobianco should give him the edge.

At forward, things aren't much better. Other than Hayton, there is really only one player with a chance to make the team - Connor Garland. To be honest, he should be a lock to make this roster, and would be if they didn't seemingly value worse players more.

Garland is 23 and approaching not being a prospect anymore, but he had a somewhat impressive year last year - he scored 13 goals in under 50 games while putting up solid defensive impacts and a team leading 53% CF.

When we consider his bizarrely low 5% on-ice shooting percentage, the fact that he was 4th on the team in 5v5 p/60 is extremely impressive.

I'd rather have him on the roster than a guy like Carl Soderberg, but who knows if he can beat out one of the ten Average Joes the Coyotes seem intent on playing.

Fun fact: Garland scored 13 goals in 600 minutes, while the Coyotes leader, Galchenyuk, scored 19 goals in 1200 minutes.

To me, the ideal Coyotes lineup looks like this:

Keller - Schmaltz - Kessel
Hayton - Stepan - Garland
Hinistroza - Dvorak - Grabner
Soderberg - Richardson - Crouse

OEL - Hjammer
Chychrun - Demers
Capobianco - Goligoski

If Capobianco and Garland can produce well over a full season, if Hayton, Keller, Schmaltz and Kessel all have good years, maybe some optimism is warranted.

Coyotes do have a weird roster though, and I wish I had better insight into their seemingly bizarre thought processes.
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