Our Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 Preview is a part of our 2021-22 NHL Team Preview Series. Starting September 9th, we have covered one team per day in the leadup to the 2021-22 season. After a crazy busy offseason with a ton of player movement we need something to help summarize what happened and give an outlook of the impact on each team. Make sure to check back each day for the next team in the list!
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Before last season the situation for Arizona was a nightmare. I summarized it in my preview which you can read here. In the 2020 draft, they had no picks in the first 3 rounds, and in the 4th round they picked a player they would later renounce. The only things they got out of that 2020 draft were a 5th, 6th and two 7th round picks. That was new general manager Bill Armstrong’s first draft for the franchise, and to me it looks like he made a real effort to avoid a repeat. He had some real work to do, as going into the 2020-2021 season, the Coyotes had no 1st or 2nd round picks in the next draft.
The team started the season surrounded in turmoil regarding the whole drafting a scumbag ordeal, had obtained zero bluechip prospects in the draft, and were strained capwise so they had nowhere to go but up.
They ended up finishing the season with a 24-26-6 record and 54 points. This was the first time in three seasons that they finished with a sub .500 record. They placed 5th in the West Division, and 22nd overall in the league. It was a similar story in the desert, as the team struggled to score. The Coyotes were 23rd in the league for scoring, with only 153 goals all season. What was new was that the club saw a dramatic decrease in their ability to keep pucks out of their own net dropping from 3rd in the league for goals against in 2019-2020, to 22nd in the league in 2020-2021. They let in 176 goals. This can be explained potentially by the division strength of the West, but also it can be attributed somewhat to the fact that they were playing a third string goalie for huge swaths of the season due to injuries to both Kuemper and Raanta. Although Adin Hill did put up some great numbers as a young rookie goaltender for his part.
The Coyotes failed to make playoffs, and will move into a tough central division starting next year. Both of these might have also factored in Armstrong’s off season decisions. And that’s the real story of the Coyotes right now: not what they did in the season, but what they focused on this offseason.
The team moved on from Rick Tocchet as head coach, who had been there since 2017-2018. He preached a defensive style that could be good for some of the offensively gifted players to get out from. They hired a new coach André Tourigny, who’s getting his first pro coaching job after a lot of work in Junior in the OHL and QMJHL. He’s won the OHL and CHL coach of the year and has been head coach of the Canadian World Jr team. It’s an interesting choice and I think he should do very well with the young kids that the team will be looking to draft, develop and insert into the roster.
Additionally the Coyotes basically sold everything that wasn’t bolted down to focus on the future and to kick start a rebuild. At the same time they took on a lot of bad contracts for a season or two in order to further stock up on picks and some prospects. It hurts for fans to see them let go of Ekman-Larsson, Garland, Kuemper, Dvorak, and Hill but in return they fetched a king’s ransom. They also erarned a lot of assets taking on the contracts of Anton Stralman, Andrew Ladd and Shayne Gostisbehere. Very smart. And I for one am very happy to see them finally move into a rebuild. This team needed a rebuild desperately, probably about as much as they need to find a new arena to play in after this season….
In next year’s draft Arizona currently has all of their own picks except the 7th rounder, and have acquired four additional 2nd round picks and two 1sts. The draft is expected to be very deep so it’s excellent timing by Armstrong.
- Loui Eriksson
- Antoine Roussel
- Jay Beagle
- Ryan Dzingel
- Dmitrij Jaskin
- Travis Boyd
- Andrew Ladd’s Cap hit
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Anton Stralman
- Connor Timmins
- Carter Hutton
- Josef Korenar
- Derrick Brassard
- Michael Bunting
- Drake Caggiula
- Conor Garland
- Tyler Pitlick
- Christian Dvorak
- Michael Chaput
- Jason Demers
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson
- Alex Goligoski
- Nicklas Hjarlmarsson (retired)
- Adin Hill
- Darcy Keumper
- Antti Raanta
I’ll be honest, this team’s forward corps is probably amongst the bottom few in the league.
Here’s a look at the current outlook for the team’s roster on opening night:
This roster will not solve the problem of scoring more goals. Phil Kessel led the team last season with 43 points, Keller had 35 and Schmaltz had 32. Everyone else on this forward roster had less than 20 points.
The loss of Garland and Dvorak will undoubtedly hurt the production that was present last season. The young kids on the team like Heyton and Crouse and Fischer (which comprises the likely 2nd line) are going to be leaned on a lot. Dzingel is looking for a bounce back in his game and will get more opportunity in the desert than he did in either Ottawa or Carolina last year. Michael Bunting was a particular bright spot for the team when he came up from the minors and scored a burst of goals. It was disappointing to not see them tender an offer to keep him around.
The one person I’m going to keep an eye on is Dmitrij Jaskin. He’s played the last two years in the KHL since leaving the Washington Capitals. In his two seasons with Dynamo Moscow he’s earned 63 and 60 points in 58 and 59 games respectively. In the KHL he’s been over a point per game, so how does that translate? Has his game improved since only earning 8 points in 37 with the caps? He’ll get a shot to showcase if it has here in Arizona on a 1 year deal he signed worth $3.2 million dollars. If it works out cool, he can re-sign or stay in the NHL and if not look for him to go back to the KHL.
They also took on Andrew Ladd’s contract so it’s possible the veteran player suits up, although it seems unlikely since he played only 4 games in 2019-2020 and missed all of last season.
There really isn’t much more to say here about the forwards other than it’s going to be another slow offensive game. New head coach André Tourigny and his offense team have their work cut out for them here.
The team traded out their captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, which at a glance looks like they are losing their number one defenseman. However, this past season, Jakob Chychrun really eclipsed OEL for that role. Chychrun had the most average ice time of anyone on the team, was second on the team for points with 41, and was second on the team for goals with 18. He will be the number one blueliner for the team again this season. Here’s what the pairings are projected to look like going into the season:
- Jakob Chychrun
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Kyle Capobianco
- Ilya Lyubushkin
- Anton Stralman
- Conor Timmins
The cast is overall weaker, with Stralman coming in on the back half of his career, notable poor defender/ looking for a bounceback offensively Gostisbehere coming in, and young promising defenseman Conor Timmins looking to get more ice time than he would get in a deep Colorado team.
The team will miss Hjarmalsson’s steady defense, as well as the offense Alex Goligoski could provide. Jason Demers who slipped a lot in ice time this past season also makes his exit.
Goaltending has completely changed for the team. Darcy Kuemper was traded to Colorado, Antti Raanta signed in Carolina, and Adin Hill was traded to San Jose for Josef Korenar. Adin Hill looked promising but it’s possible Armstrong believed that he would have been selected by Seattle in the expansion draft if he was still on the roster so elected to send him out of town to get something back. Arizona earned a 2022 2nd round pick to add to their collection in that trade as well.
Kuemper was awesome, Hill was awesome and Raanta struggled, so it makes sense why they traded the two and let Raanta walk.
This team likely has the cheapest goaltending tandem in the league for this next season in order to maximize the cap space moves they could do to get draft picks. They traded in Korenar who’s got a season left at $750k and signed Carter Hutton for 1 year also at $750k.
Korenar looked better than his numbers suggest in San Jose last year. In 10 games he had a 3.17 GAA and a 0.899 save percentage. Those aren’t great and I honestly don’t know if they will see improvement this season on Arizona due to the overall weak roster, but he should get more experience under his belt and that’s valuable in its own right.
Hutton will be glad he got out of Buffalo, but the 35 year old has been battling injuries the past couple years. It’s unlikely that he backstops the team to any sort of run, but could be a good mentor to the young goalies like Korenar who’s 23 and Ivan Prosvetov who is 22. Prosvetov made a few starts last year when the club was in trouble and will definitely be looking to improve on those.
Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 Prediction
The Coyotes likely saw the most turnover out of any team in the league this off season and for good reason. They’ve steered the ship into the right direction and are looking towards the future instead of being competitive in any way. They should be the bottom of the division in order to get a better draft placement in the deep 2022 draft and that’s exactly where I am predicting them to end up. It will be a rough on ice season for the team and with rumours of a relocation, fans will need to have some patience, because Bill Armstrong has really set the club in the right direction with the moves he’s made so far.
That concludes our Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 Preview. Check to see if your team has been covered yet in our 2021-22 Season Preview Series.
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