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The Arizona Coyotes are the Maple Leafs, but better.

Forget Toronto. The Coyotes have the potential to be the NHL's next great young guns - whether the rest of the league notices or not.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

And so, another season ends early in Arizona. The Coyotes will once again finish in the basement of the NHL - 28th place giving them another lottery pick this draft.

John Chayka has said that this season is a benchmark for where the Coyotes are as an organization and as a team, and, on the face of it, it's another summer for hockey fans in the desert to view as “rebuilding”, “development” and all the other euphemisms that teams that miss the playoffs use.

But heres the thing. Of all the teams in the bottom tier of the NHL right now, Arizona have by far the most reason to be optimistic.

Good times are coming in Arizona, and they are coming at the speed of the sun rising over the desert – very fast indeed.

In fact, I'm going to make a bold prediction for my first article on FFH – the Arizona Coyotes will be legitimate Cup contenders by 2020.

Yes, it might be a lofty statement, and there is still work for John Chayka to do to get there, but the Coyotes might be the team in the best possible position to be the next surprise package in the NHL. All the attention is on Toronto and Arizona's own Auston Matthews (and rightly so) but the Coyotes are in a very similar position without the fanfare – and that, frankly, is an ideal position to be in.

Much is made of the Leafs' talent and how they're the “next great young team” and much will continue to be made of it, no doubt. But here's some comparable numbers -

The current average age of Toronto's NHL roster is 25.93, while Arizona's is 25.92. But bear in mind that Arizona number is inflated considerably by 40-year-old Shane Doan, 35-year-old Mike Smith and Radim Vrbata, and 34-year-old Zbynek Michalek, three of whom are potential UFAs at the end of this season.

Chayka has already proven to be a very shrewd negotiator when it comes to trades – as shown by the haul for Martin Hanzal, for example. He's also made shrewd moves when it comes to drafting, taking the truly mercurial talent of Clayton Keller and the exciting Jakob Chychrun in the first round of his first NHL draft at the helm, amongst others.

They join a roster bursting at the seams with young talent in various stages of development but all with one thing in common - they are under 25 and will be legitimate NHL stars sooner rather than later. In some cases, like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, they already are.

This Arizona team is one that sits in the shadow of Toronto when it comes to "teams loaded with potential" conversation - and probably Columbus, too. But it does so unjustifiably. With names like Duclair, Domi, Strome, Keller, Chychrun, and Murphy developing at an impressive rate and a young GM who is focused on adding to them, the potential in the desert is truly frightening to behold.

The depth continues behind the headline grabbing names, too, with players like Nick Merkley, Cam Dineen and Jordan Martinook almost lost in the shuffle behind the marquee names above.

The most exciting thing if you're a Coyotes fan though (and frightening for opposition fans) is nobody can quantify just how good they're going to be - only that they're going to be.

If there is a cloud on the horizon for the Dogs, it's that there is still more work to do. In net, Mike Smith will only be around another year or two - Louis Domingue needs another chasing prospect to drive him to his full potential or even threaten surpassing him, and the Yotes roster still arguably has holes to fill, especially eventual replacements for Doan and Michalek.

But that work can be done, if necessary, through free agency, with the Yotes carrying among the lowest salary loads in the league. Or it can be done through further trades with the Yotes' stockpiled assets.

Nobody is saying that the Coyotes will be the finished article next season, or possibly even the one after that. But under Chayka they are travelling the right road in getting there, and rapid improvement year on year will only see the pace of that journey accelerate.

This time next year, we'll likely be looking at a very different-looking Arizona roster - but we'll also be looking at one that is a year closer to being one of the best in the league, if current trends continue.

One that isn't grabbing the headlines or attention quite like Toronto, but is doing exactly the same things, and doing them better.

As John Chayka continues to quietly build a powerhouse, those headlines might begin to come. But if they don't, that's just fine...because the journey will continue anyway.

The good times are more than just a dot on the distant horizon now in Arizona, and they're getting nearer every day.

Get excited, Yotes fans.