It’s that time of year again when every website is going through each team’s offseason changes and sharing what they think the team will look like. Will they be the best, the worst, or fall somewhere in between?
Boys Keep Swinging
Like most of you, we consume a lot of this content when we are prepping for the season over here at Five For Howling, but sometimes you wonder why you listen to certain stations and/or voices when all they do is dump on the Coyotes.
Most recently on a large radio network, they said the biggest problem with the Coyotes is that they have no ‘superstar’ and they are currently at the cap floor, barely. They did recant and say that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a superstar, but the big problem is there are no Forwards who are, and that’s what you need to win in the league.
If you look at the Senators and Predators, I believe they would argue that stance. The Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist and the Canadiens with Carey Price would also join the party.
Yes, Arizona is currently just at the cap floor, but they also need to re-sign Anthony Duclair and they have an overage from last season that is counted against this year's cap. There isn’t an issue with the team being a low budget/internal cap team. The Anaheim Ducks are run this way and they seem just fine, along with the Senators, who made it to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Coyotes currently have seven players on the roster who are on entry level contracts, including one whose contract is up at the end of the season and will deserve a raise.
Max Domi will be the first of the young players up for a new contract and it’s going to cost the team a good chunk of money. Next season, Lawson Crouse, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, and Jakob Chychrun’s contracts will also be up. Most importantly, in 2019, Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract will be up and that is where a lot of the team’s cap space would be going.
Playing it safe with the cap now does not make the team ‘weak’, it means that John Chayka sees where the future is leading and the kids and OEL are going to need to be signed to hefty contracts to secure their stay in Arizona.
When someone says the Coyotes have no forward superstar talent, they may need to watch a few more games. They may not be outright stars like Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, and Connor McDavid, but they have young players that will spark into superstars.
Soon people will see the wing depth of the Coyotes start to haunt goalies in their sleep. Max Domi had an off season last year, but this season, he could easily hit 25+ goals mark with the right center. Brendan Perlini and Christian Fischer are also naturally skilled snipers on the wing. Perlini having a chance to play behind and with someone like Radim Vrbata last season helped how his game evolved. Christian Fischer, another steal the Coyotes picked up in the second round of the 2015 draft, scored on his first three shots in his first three games in the NHL. That’s not something to scoff at. Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome, and Anthony Duclair are on the potential list as well.
You cannot count out the Coyotes because of this meaningless factor.
The Coyotes went through a complete rehab in the front office and coaching staff this summer. Out with Dave Tippett, Jim Playfair, and Newel Brown and in with Rick Tocchet, John MacLean, and Scott Allen.
There was a complete overhaul of the Roadrunners staff as well, with Mark Lamb out and Mike Van Ryn in as Head Coach and Steve Sullivan as Assistant General Manager and GM.
Andrew Barroway also became the sole owner of the franchise instead of the organization having to deal with 10 voices who seemingly never agreed on anything when it came to the club.
The judgments started after Dave Tippett and the team mutually parted ways.
On eve of NHL Draft, Coyotes have no coach, no captain (yet), no president/CEO, no starting G, no No. 1 C (still), no prez of hockey ops.— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) June 23, 2017
As of now, all of these things, except the captain, have been filled.
12 hours after this tweet, the Coyotes started to make moves to the team and built an older core who know how to win around the very young core that will be taking over in a few short years.
The Arizona Coyotes are always under a ridiculous amount of pressure, be it from their own fans or people waiting for the team to fail. After so many years of being told that ‘the fans don’t deserve a team’ because it is ‘not a hockey market’, you start to grow numb to it all. Even media in our own state have said it is time to move on, while they don’t blink an eye at the 12.5 Million dollar ballpark that will never be paid for that is only used a few months out of the year.
There is a reason Coyotes fans are fast to go after anyone who reports anything negative about the team, if Craig Morgan or Sarah McLellan haven’t reported it. They want to hear the news, good or bad, from reporters they trust.
This is what happens when it feels like the whole reporting world is out to get you. It’s all about the perception.
The perception that no one cares about the team, media or fan wise. The perception that nothing good will ever come to the Coyotes and they should just be moved somewhere else. The perception of empty seats and uninterested fans.
The perception is never the actual reality of what is going on.
Many of the talking heads in the major markets in Canada do not pay attention to teams like the Coyotes unless there is a reason.
Auston Matthews comes home to play his childhood idol and hometown team. The Coyotes ownership is in trouble again. How can the team stay in the city that doesn’t want them? It’s better to just move the team then let it die in Arizona. When speaking about Vegas: Isn’t it nice that the desert finally has a team?
For most of the season, the Coyotes are 2 hours behind Toronto. Still a bit ‘late’ to watch games on the west coast. Everyone there wants to put down the market, the market that gave them their ‘savior’. A market that has players being drafted to the WHL and going to the US National Development Program. A market whose junior teams are winning in large tournaments in Canada.
How does one judge a team that has not played a game yet or when you have not seen some of the young players compete outside of juniors two years ago?
We’re not saying ‘#Watch The Game’, but maybe pay more attention to what’s going on in Arizona than just the rumblings of drama instead of the play.
The youth have arrived in Arizona and its time for everyone to take notice before they are put on notice. There may be some growing pains coming for the team, but soon it will turn into pain for the other teams in the league to experience.
The Coyotes may not pull a Toronto Maple Leafs level of improvement this season, but soon they will and you won’t want to be on the wrong side of the puck.