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Coyotes Report Cards: Lawson Crouse

Lawson Crouse had a great year in a contract season.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Like most players on the Arizona Coyotes this season, Lawson Crouse had something to prove. Last season was one of his worst since making the jump to full-time NHLer, registering only four goals and nine assists in 51 games in a pandemic-shortened season.

But whether it was a desire to show what he could do or because his new coach implemented a system that worked better for him, Crouse came alive this season in a big way, becoming an integral part of the Arizona Coyotes.

Games Played: 65

Goals: 20

Assists: 14

TOI/Games Played: 17:51

PP TOI: 124:46

PK TOI: 113:26

Crouse had a problem scoring last season, but the Mt. Brydges, Ontario native, didn’t take long to get on the board this season. He registered an assist in the Coyotes’ first game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and four days later, he notched his first goal of the season against the St. Louis Blues. Fortunately, it would be the first of many.

Unfortunately, a strong start wasn’t enough to give the Coyotes wins. Hockey is a team sport; even if individual players are doing well, it doesn’t mean the team will succeed.

Crouse’s role this season was well defined. He mostly played on the middle six and spent a fair amount of time playing on a line with Phil Kessel. He was also one of the Coyotes’ top penalty killers and a big part of the team’s power play.

There wasn’t much that Crouse couldn’t do, and the team’s management took notice. General Manager Bill Armstrong said that Crouse was part of the team’s core and seemed a perfect fit for both Armstrong and Coyotes’ Head Coach André Tourigny's system.

Of course, Crouse had fans in more than just management. Leading up to the NHL trade deadline, a local 11-year-old player named Lena Travis wrote General Manager Bill Armstrong asking him not to trade her favorite player. Lena not only got to see her favorite player stay with the Desert Dogs, but she got an autographed Crouse jersey for her trouble.

Perhaps the highlight of Crouse’s season came towards the end. On March 14th against the Ottawa Senators, Lawson Crouse registered his first career hat trick, lifting the Coyotes past the Senators to give them the win. Crouse scored three ways, 5-on-5, on the power play, and short-handed, in what was probably his best game of the season.

Unfortunately, Crouse’s season would end prematurely after breaking a bone in his hand while blocking a shot. Crouse’s last game would be March 28th against the Edmonton Oilers.

Crouse’s injury would end up being overshadowed by another injury. Not long after Crouse went down, Clayton Keller went awkwardly into the boards and his season ended with a broken leg. That makes the loss of Crouse a lot harder to quantify. Crouse has a significant presence on and off the ice, but one of the few players who can surpass him is Clayton Keller.

But the Coyotes definitely missed both players. Crouse was responsible for almost 10% of the Coyotes’ goals, he was a fixture of the team’s penalty kill, and he provided a physical presence. He was a big part of the team, and Keller was probably the only player who could overshadow Crouse.

Grade: B+

Future:

Crouse is a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights, and PHNX’s Craig Morgan has reported that Armstrong has stated that re-signing him will be his next priority. The young forward is definitely due to get a raise, although Crouse and Armstrong’s camps are still working on the specifics. Either way, all signs point to Lawson Crouse being a big part of the Coyotes moving forward.