The first round of the playoffs is coming to an end, and once again the Arizona Coyotes are on the outside looking in. Most of the team is golfing, but a few players are in Latvia to compete in the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
Four players from the Coyotes organization are competing, Adin Hill, Darcy Kuemper, Michael Bunting, Conor Garland, and Liam Kirk.
Things are not going well for Team Canada. In three games, they only have two goals and have yet to win a single game.
Canada went all-in with Coyotes goaltenders, bringing both Darcy Kuemper and Adin Hill to the tournament. Neither netminder has been particularly sharp, with Kuemper giving up six goals in two games and Hill giving up three goals in three games.
Darcy Kuemper seemed off in the latter part of the season when he returned from injury, and this tournament offered an opportunity for the Saskatoon native. If he needs a few more games to work through some rust, this should be a perfect opportunity for him, and there is still plenty of time for him to regain his form.
In addition to the two goalies, Michael Bunting is also representing Canada. Like most Canadians on the team, he hasn’t got any points yet and is currently a -2.
Bunting is a pending unrestricted free agent, and he has a big decision to make. He had 10 goals in 21 games, which should definitely earn him a raise. Whether that raise will come as a Coyote remains to be seen.
Only one American player is playing in this tournament, forward Conor Garland. Garland missed time late in the season with a knee injury, but he is a +2, and he recorded two assists in Team USA’s 5-1 win over Canada.
Garland had taken a big step forward this last season and has grown as a playmaker. He is currently a restricted free agent, and his next contract will be the first major decision for General Manager Bill Armstrong.
Team Great Britain
Coyotes prospect Liam Kirk represents Great Britain this year, and he is having a good start to the tournament, even if his team hasn’t. Great Britain has only played in two games, facing off against Slovakia and Russia, and losing both games.
The team has been limited to just a goal a game, with Liam Kirk scoring both goals. And with two goals in three games, he is currently on pace to score more goals than Team Canada in this tournament.
Two goals in two games for Liam Kirk.— Mark (@MarkUkLeaf) May 23, 2021
This is goal one against Russia. pic.twitter.com/YrJIQLRmKd
Nobody expects Great Britain to do much this tournament, but Kirk is seizing the opportunity. He spent this past year in Europe due to Covid-19 and will hopefully be back in North America next season.
Kirk played in the OHL when he was last in North America, and he will be playing professional hockey when next season starts. If he keeps up this pace and has a good tournament, it would make a strong case for him starting in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners.