With last night’s 3-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Arizona Coyotes’ preseason is officially in the books. The Desert Dogs have a few more days of practice, but their first game of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets is only a week away.
There is still plenty for General Manager Bill Armstrong and Head Coach André Tourigny to do. We are still waiting for the final roster cuts, and the team will continue to practice.
But before we go into the final weekend before the regular season starts, let’s take a look back at the last week of training camp.
The Arizona Coyotes have done surprisingly well this preseason. They won every game but one, a 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars this past Sunday at the Kraft Hockeyville game in El Paso.
Admittedly, Arizona didn’t face the best competition during the preseason. They played only one team that made the playoffs last season, the Vegas Golden Knights. Instead, they played the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, and despite many prospects in both teams’ systems, they likely aren’t going to be much better.
But preseason games are more about evaluating players than predicting future records. And although a few Coyotes players missed out on games due to injuries, hopefully, new Head Coach André Tourigny has been able to see enough.
The Coyotes goaltending was pretty solid throughout the preseason, which isn’t the most surprising thing. Last night, Czech netminder Karel Vejmelka had the crease, and he stopped 25 of Vegas’ 26 shots over a full 60 minutes game.
First, it’s essential to remember that the games don’t matter, and the best players aren’t necessarily going to give 100% during a preseason game.
It is also important to remember that while the Coyotes’ goaltending took a significant drop with the trading of Darcy Kuemper and Adin Hill and the decision to let Antti Raanta walk, the defense may have improved slightly.
We still don’t know what the Coyotes are going to do with their goaltending this season or if they will look to upgrade in the next few days. But, if the preseason is to be believed, the Coyotes may be okay in net.
Galchenyuk has officially returned to the Arizona Coyotes, with the announcement that he had signed a one-year, $750,000 contract.
It was unlikely that Galchenyuk would have agreed to a PTO if there was a real chance that he wouldn’t make the team, but it has to be a load off for the forward to have an official contract.
Like many other players, Galchenyuk has something to prove this season. However, he should have plenty of opportunities to play this season, and it will be interesting to see if he has enough in him to bounce back.
Kessel missed the entire preseason with a foot injury but seems poised to start the season with the Coyotes. He didn’t play on Thursday, but he was seen skating with the team on Wednesday.
It’s Phil Kessel in the middle of the player circle. pic.twitter.com/WFWf1qmz8o— José M. Romero (@RomeroJoseM) October 6, 2021
Kessel has a 900 game ironman streak going, good for third overall among all active NHL players. It would be very unfortunate for the streak to break, so hopefully, Kessel will be ready to go for next Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Cuts have been relatively minor this week, although we will likely see more coming in the next few days.
The only roster move was the reassigning of forward Boko Imama, who was placed on waivers and reassigned to the Tucson Roadrunners.
Imama clears, will be assigned to Tucson. https://t.co/mDj3MMAHaR— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) October 6, 2021
Imama was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings along with Cole Hults in exchange for Brayden Burke and Tyler Steenbergen. His physical play was on display this preseason, and he should serve well to help bolster the Roadrunners and may serve as one of the first callups.
Preseason Broadcast Issues
If you have tried to watch the Coyotes this preseason, you likely ran into multiple issues. Local television stations did not broadcast any games, and the radio wasn’t much better.
Last night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the last chance to see the team before the regular season, wasn’t available for fans in the valley on the NHL Network.
You could occasionally find a video stream, the Kraft Hockeyville game and the second game against the Kings were available, but it was tough to get excited about hockey when you couldn’t watch it. It’s preseason and hockey, which tend to be low on the priority list, but it is frustrating that in 2021 we still have to deal with blackouts and a lack of programming.