This team has some returning players in place to at least keep the salary cap number from being outside the compliance stipulations, but the gist of this team is going to be youth and the future of this franchise will be on full display, trying to find a formula that can attract new hockey fans in the desert or die trying.
From a hockey pool perspective, this isn't great to trying to help win your pool. You're not going to look to their captain, Shane Doan, in the early rounds, nor are you going to assume that their number one goalie, Mike Smith, is going to have a banner year either. What we are going to see is these two veterans take a number of young players under their wing, teach them the ins and outs of the NHL on a daily basis and see if they can't string a few wins together, learn some lessons and still have a great set of odds for the draft lottery next Summer.
With the franchise in so much location limbo in the Summer, it really does seem like a horrible time to do what they're doing, especially since they could fill the Glendale arena when they were in the playoffs, winning a few games here and there. Now, the chances of winning those games are drastically reduced, the building and city doesn't want them anymore and the team wants to show off potential, more than they do proven skill.
How well could this possibly work?
Table last updated on August 15th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
This is definitely more about intrigue than it is being certain that Max Domi is going to breakout in 2016, especially since he's still a rookie.
The gold medal captain at the World Juniors at Christmas comes with the most hype this season, even more so than their 3rd overall pick in this year's draft, Dylan Strome, mostly because he likely has the most immediate upside. Domi is likely closer to the hit side of the hit or miss scale, in terms of NHL prospects, but he isn't quite a sure thing... yet. He'll play hard, no doubt, but will his output match the hype? That's where the questions start for me.
First Round Picks
If the opening round projections are where I see them right now, players are going to need about 80 points to be up there and the Coyotes don't project nearly that well. It will be a question of what round the first Arizona player gets taken and it could be early, if a team gets desperate for a number one goalie, but no one is going to come looking for a Coyotes player early on in the pool draft.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Coyotes forwards are going to be the spice that compliments your pool team, rather than the meat and potatoes of the draft. The rebuilding team has some good players to help win them some games, like Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and the long-time captain, Shane Doan. If there is one name that stands out a little, it would be the young Tobias Rieder, who made an impression in a couple games last season. He could end up being a pretty decent late round pick, if you're already stacked up on goalies and defensemen.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
If Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a little bit more offensive help in this lineup, he would be a far better prospect to pick up, as his natural talent is pretty special. He'll likely be the only Coyotes defenseman taken in the draft this year and he's probably the only one who should be taken. If there are any other blueliners taken this coming year, it will likely be as injury replacements.
After winning the gold medal at the World Championships, I think there should be an increase in confidence in Mike Smith's game, heading into this season. He is the clear number one and the coaching staff should give him the minutes to reflect that. His numbers will be a reflection of how the team in front of him plays, clearly. His back-up this year will be Anders Lindback, who has bounced around in recent years, but I don't think anyone should be relying on a back-up goalie on a rebuilding franchise for points on their pool team.
Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race
If the Coyotes have anything this season, it will be those entries into the rookie race and these guys might be more those players that you help your team win that bonus money with, not quite the guys you win the pool with. Between Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome, you'll get three guys that should get some decent time with the big club, but they don't project to have great numbers, thanks to the team playing along side them. If you're going to take one, try and take him late, otherwise, if your team has faltered early, try and win the rookie pool with one of these guys in the mid-season Waiver Draft.
Team To Pick From Late?
No, the Coyotes are not a go-to team this year. Who knows how many are going to be available in the late rounds, but even then, their projections may still be even a tad ambitious for the coming season. I wouldn't mind being wrong to say that, but it really has that feeling, doesn't it?
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Coyotes were cleaned up in the free agent department, early on in the Summer. The most notable restricted free agent left is goaltender Louis Domingue, who headed off to Europe for the year, but Arizona retains his rights for his return.
If there are any fears in Arizona, it would be that they won't hit the cap floor, but with the acquisition of Chris Pronger's contract and the $4.9 million he's owed against the cap as a 35+ contract, they can use that to be much safer against it. The Coyotes will operate with a very low budget for their team and that will have an impact on their place in the standings, for sure.