Arizona Coyotes' Expected Roster After Major Turnover
The Arizona Coyotes have had quite an eventful 2021 offseason. They traded away a number of star players including Conor Garland, Darcy Kuemper, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The return for those players included an unprecedented amount of albatross contracts like Anton Stralman, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Andrew Ladd.
The combined cap-hit for those contracts comes out to a staggering $27.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Along with the contracts, the Coyotes received a plethora of draft picks, most of them for the 2022 NHL Draft.
With all of the roster turnovers that took place, here is an early look at a potential Arizona Coyotes opening night lineup:
Yeah, it’s ugly. With as little skill as they have on their roster, it’s a flat-out impossible job for any coach to have a successful season in the desert. The only real bright spots on this team are the solid top-pair of defencemen and their decent right-wing depth.
Everywhere else is extremely weak by any standards. Of course, the goal this year is to lose games to win better odds in the draft lottery. Having a chance at drafting one of Shane Wright, Simon Nemec, or Brad Lambert is too enticing to pass up.
When the Coyotes traded Darcy Kuemper to the Avalanche for Connor Timmins, 2022 1st round pick and a 2024 3rd round pick, it was clear which direction Arizona was heading.
A goalie tandem of Carter Hutton and Josef Korenar is great for a tanking team, not so great if you want to win games. Hutton was a 3.47 and .886 last year in 13 games played for the Buffalo Sabres. Korenar played his first ten games of his career this past season but didn’t do much better than Hutton, statistically.
Korenar is a decent goalie prospect but there is the question of rushing him in too early. Unless the Coyotes acquire another goalie between now and the start of the season, it’s likely going to be a split-net for Hutton and Korenar. That bodes well for Arizona’s plan, however, it could be potentially damaging to Korenar’s career prospects.
The Coyotes have an interesting group of defencemen this year. Jakob Chychrun established himself as a high-end number one defencemen with a 41-point effort last year in the 56-game season. Aside from him though, there is a mixture of low-skilled veterans and higher-skilled prospects/rookies.
Anton Stralman was once one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL, however, his age has caught up with him and he is nowhere near where it once was.
Shayne Gostisbehere is a curious case because he had a 65-point season with Philadelphia in 2017-18, but has fallen off a cliff since. If he can get a lot of time on the power-play, there is hope the 28-year-old will find his game.
The rest of the defense has a combined 18 points in 181 career NHL games.
Besides Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Phil Kessel, the Coyotes have zero legitimate top-nine forwards. Even these three are hardly first-line players.
Schmaltz is a perennial 45-point player, Keller had a great rookie season but has been averaging roughly 50 points per season since. Phil Kessel remains as the only true star player on their team. Last year he was on track for 29 goals and 63 points in 82 games.
However, it is very unlikely Kessel wants to play for this team for very long. In the last year of his contract, he will almost certainly ask for a trade at the deadline. And even if he doesn’t they will probably trade him either way.
Out of the rest of the roster, the only player that stands out as a potential breakout candidate is Dmitrij Jaskin. A St. Louis Blues draft pick, Jaskin played there from 2012-2018, without much success. He had his best year in 2014-15, with a 13-goal, 18-point effort.
Since leaving the NHL to play for Moscow Dynamo of the KHL, he has 123 points in 117 games. Obviously, the KHL has a completely different dynamic than the NHL, but this could show that he is ready to finally compete in the NHL.
The Coyotes will not be a playoff team this year and are expected to finish in the bottom three of the NHL standings.
By Naftali Clinton