Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2018 Pool Projections: Arizona

At some point, this whole Arizona Coyotes thing should be turning around, right?  I would honestly say that I was somewhat excited about the Coyotes around this time last year, but they have continued to meander about and almost make it seem like they are doing something meaningful, but they seem to offer a lot more false hope, than anything else.

So, now we try to turn another page, ahead of the 2018 season.  They will have a new number one goalie, a top prospect that got a taste of the big game before the end of last season and a brand new veteran scorer, trying to infuse this team with a little get-up-and-go.

Where are all the top prospects that they had in the bag before?  They didn't emerge from training camp or the pages of all these magazines, promising bigger and better things for this team.  Really, at best, this Arizona team has taken on a couple of big contracts, added a few bargain basement names and have rallied upon the hockey gods to make sure that these kids finally break through.

If anyone would like to stand up and start making this Coyotes team worth talking about this season, they are more than welcome to, but I don't think I will be putting any of my money on it at the draft, unless I am getting someone late, who may be a bargain.

Player Pos 17/18 Proj Rookie
Derek Stepan F 55 N
Max Domi F 55 N
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 55 N
Clayton Keller F 50 Y
Dylan Strome F 45 Y
Antti Raanta G 35 N
Louis Domingue G 35 N
Tobias Rieder F 35 N
Alex Goligoski D 35 N
Brad Richardson F 30 N
Christian Fischer F 30 Y
Christian Dvorak F 25 N
Jamie McGinn F 25 N
Jordan Martinook F 25 N
Lawson Crouse F 25 N
Nick Cousins F 25 N
Brendan Perlini F 20 N
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 15 N
Andrew Campbell D 10 N
Jakob Chychrun D 10 N
Luke Schenn D 10 N
Emerson Etem F 5 N
Zac Rinaldo F 5 N
Kevin Connauton D 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

There is a feeling that Dylan Strome has done all he can at the junior level, so now it is his turn to try and turn it up at the NHL level and this is a very intriguing thought.  The 3rd overall selection in 2015 has yet to make his mark in the big leagues, but with some new life coming into the roster, like Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller, there could be some new bodies to help Strome through to be a pretty good rookie this season.

This kid does appear to have a lot of the tools that he'll need in his own toolbag, but it will certainly help his cause if the line mates around him are all focused on the same goal, which will be to get the puck to the net.  If his projection is any indication, I think he has a good shot at doing some good things this year.

First Round Picks

The Coyotes don't offer up any options for the opening round of the draft this year and if the projections are any indication, we probably won't see a Coyotes player taken until Oliver Ekman-Larsson goes in the early defenseman rush, which usually follows the early starting goalie blitz.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The question in the desert is whether or not these Coyotes have enough offense to make strides in the standings and the initial thought is no.  The confidence is still rather low, since they only have five forwards projected to be worthy and two of them are rookies and I don't see this team having the run that Toronto did with all of their rookies.  Derek Stepan, Max Domi, Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome and Tobias Rieder have their own individual upsides, but I'm just not buying into them as a collective early on.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

With very little help up front, the defense is likely going to struggle for points as well.  Ekman-Larsson still has some decent upside to him, but he won't come close to realizing his potential with this group, while Alex Goligoski will be capable of helping, but his numbers will flatten out as well.  Niklas Hjalmarsson was a pool worthy player in Chicago, but I wouldn't be very keen on adding him in an Arizona jersey right now, but he's also the closest thing to a third worthy defenseman on the team.

Goaltending Situation

With Mike Smith off to Calgary, the Coyotes will likely platoon between Louis Domingue and Antti Raanta, who came over from the Big Apple, possibly in line for some big minutes, if he can string together a few wins.  Wins are going to be a tough sell in Arizona this year, so unless you're absolutely stuck for a goalie in the draft, I would likely steer away, because it's hard to suggest a number one before camp and even harder to gauge how many wins for either of them.

Team To Pick From Late?

After all of that negativity, suggesting that you pick someone from this team late does seem a tad far fetched.  But, there is a lot of young talent on this team and they'll be fairly scrappy, something that is hard to add to the projections.  These young players are on the cusp of worthiness with their projections and there are players like Lawson Crouse, Christian Dvorak and Nick Cousins, that could explode early on this season and run with it.  They are definite long shots, but they could become huge bargain picks, if they do.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Only one major restricted free agent is left on the board and that is forward Anthony Duclair, who had a decent year in 2016, but really fell off last season and that could certainly hinder the potential for a big deal.  The Coyotes could always use his grit on the ice, but he's going to have to show some finesse here soon, because the depth of this team is coming up behind him quickly.

Even with Dave Bolland's $5.5 million on the books and his inevitable placement on the Injured Reserve, the Coyotes still have well over $17 million in unused cap space before the season starts.  I can't see this team stringing a lot of wins together, so they could do well to add those bad contract assets at some point in the season, trying to collect more draft picks to build from the prospect level up.


Off-season ankle surgery should have sidelined forward Tobias Rieder for the better part of the summer already and if the initial timetables were about right, he should either be starting to get back on the ice for his workouts now or coming up in the next couple of weeks.  Either way, barring any setbacks, it sounds like he should be good to go for camp.  Jacob Chychrun suffered a knee injury a couple of weeks ago and had to undergo surgery, we're still waiting to hear just how bad that injury is, but by the look of it, it may hamper him from starting the season, so you may want to adjust your projections accordingly.

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