After the Arizona Coyotes took the first game of their three-game road trip against a tough, young Vancouver Canucks team, there seemed to be some hope. However, the Arizona Coyotes results have gone downhill from there.
Losing the next two games to the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets has pretty much destroyed any idea that they will be playing in the postseason. That will be eight consecutive years without a playoff appearance.
So, it may be time to do an overhaul.
Arizona Coyotes Results Means Team Needs Improvements
If your car’s engine keeps dying and the oil light or engine light comes on, what do you do? You go to your favourite mechanic and he tells you what is wrong with the car. For some time now, the Arizona Coyotes’ engine light has been blinking excessively and nothing is being done. Fans are paying their hard-earned cash to see a failing, non-responsive product and they’re sick and tired of it.
However, there are solutions that can be made, there always are in professional sports. You fire the general manager, and or the head coach and assistant coaches and start over. Maybe not a rebuild per se, but more of a ‘retool.’ It’s not easy, yet at this juncture, it’s more than needed.
Front Office Changes Needed
The team (with new ownership) spent up to the cap and yet has received not much in return. Perhaps the new owner Alex Meruelo is still new and may not realize that he purchased a team that needs some big adjustments. It was reassuring when he bought the team that he was so assertive about bringing a Cup to the valley. If that is still his motivation for spending his money as any good businessman will notice, some things need to change.
Perhaps, the front office headed by general manager/President of hockey operations John Chayka will get a talking to by Meruelo. Perhaps, Chayka will huddle with the coaching staff headed by Rick Tocchet.
The time for talking and huddling is done. It’s time to get some results from this team. If Meruelo doesn’t do something soon why would he invest in building a new arena for a team which hasn’t seen success for so long? He didn’t build a business empire on the theory of mediocrity. He’s too smart to do that. So, results are needed and they are needed as soon as possible.
Arizona Coyotes Results Means Player Changes Needed
The Coyotes added some talented players to the roster this season. Anticipations for a much better season result were obvious. Yet, this team has failed to score, hold a lead, or play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey for most of the season. The results are in front of us every day as we look at the NHL standings wondering which teams will need to lose to have the Coyotes sneak into the playoffs.
We can almost stop torturing ourselves now. With 12 games remaining and no sign that this team has what it takes to be playing in the postseason, it’s much of the same once again. NO PLAYOFFS!
Now, it’s not official but when you look at this team’s performance it’s easy to see that they don’t have a snowball’s chance in Phoenix in June of making the playoffs. Things must be done to overhaul the Arizona Coyotes or they will be in the same predicament next season.
Who Goes, Who Stays
Of those seven, only Taylor Hall is a definite ‘yes.’ Soderberg has shown the forwards on this team what you’re getting paid to do, crash the net and hang out for rebounds. As well as screening the opposing goalie and perhaps score goals while he’s at it.
Fischer can be gone in a bigger trade to improve this team. So can Hinostroza. He had a good year last season but has faltered this year. Richardson, while a useful penalty killer, is a one dimensional and easily replaced. You need to keep Hill as the team should seriously think about trading Antti Raanta. Hill is the future for the team in net. Lyubushkin remains a useful hard-hitting D-man and is reasonable. Keep him.
Trade These Guys
Now, we’re just getting started. There are others who can be considered expendable. Derek Stepan carries a $6.5 million contract. He has 39 goals total in the three seasons he’s been in Arizona. That’s $166,666 per goal! While billed as the team’s first-line centre, he has not performed. Michael Grabner, who has been a healthy scratch for most of the season may not hold much value after his unfortunate eye injury. He is, however taking up a roster spot that may be utilized by a player who can contribute more.
This next one may shock you. While he is the captain and did sign a huge eight-year $66 million pact in July of 2018, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has not played at all near that contract’s level of expectations. He’s getting beat and beat up all too often. His ability to be the leader of this team, just like the front office and coaching staff is in question. His huge contract may be difficult to move, but some team will need a good puck-moving defenceman and his time has come.
Another huge disappointment has been Phil Kessel. His scoring drought this season is worse than expected. He doesn’t have Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to help him out on this team and it shows. While Phil wanted to come to the desert, he left his scoring tools in Pittsburgh. He may be difficult to move too, but he has not inflated the Coyotes power play enough to keep paying him $6.8 million a year even if the Toronto Maple Leafs are retaining $1.2 million.
First Line Centre Or Scoring is Biggest Need
This team has not had a legitimate first-line centre since Keith Tkachuk and that’s a long time to wait. Barrett Hayton has potential, but it’s doubtful he can fill that role. They made Clayton Keller (17 goals) a winger and don’t always play Nick Schmaltz (11 goals) down the middle either. Both have been adequate scorers but nothing to get excited about.
While not a centre, Mike Hoffman, 30 was a name that got some attention at the trade deadline. His scoring credentials are just what the Yotes crave. He has averaged 0.35 goals per game and 0.73 points per game over his nine-year career. He commands a salary of $5.187 million and is a free agent this July. That fact that he has averaged just over 28 goals a season over these last six years is enough to say go after this guy.
Why would the Panthers want to part with him? They are fighting for their survival to get to the playoffs too and if they don’t make it they will be ready to do some shopping. Their defence is weak, ranked 29th. Adding a major piece like OEL would help their weakness and while adding Hoffman will help the Yotes.
Going with OEL to the sunshine state could be Christian Fischer ($821,666). The Yotes could receive right-shooting defenceman Mackenzie Weegar ($1.6M) to even things out cap-wise. Hoffman may want a raise as well as Weegar, and the Panthers get a star blueliner for years to come. OEL can be reunited with Keith Yandle.
These are just some of the suggestions/ideas to make the Coyotes a better team. After the dust in the desert clears with yet another unsuccessful season, we’ll see what actually happens.
Mr. Meruelo will have some decisions to make and if you look at his background, he knows all about success. If he inspects the flaws this team possesses everyone will know that failure is not in his business plan. However, winning the Stanley Cup is and he can’t do it with the present roster or management.