What will the Arizona Coyotes roster look like next season?
The Arizona Coyotes’ new general manager, Bill Armstrong stated to Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider in this tweet:
In the latest Neutral Zone:
— The Coyotes’ current roster is unlikely to change much before the season opener
— A look at the ghosts of uniform numbers past
— The Christian Fischer contract talks
— Hockey ops rumorshttps://t.co/1F8wxszZww pic.twitter.com/0rKEIGQef6
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) October 17, 2020
That very first statement by Armstrong will be the focus of this article. “The Coyotes’ current roster is unlikely to change before the season opener.” REALLY?
If Armstrong, who is a very knowledgeable hockey mind thinks the additions he recently made will help his team gain any ground in the tough Pacific Division, he’s been misled.
Arizona Coyotes Roster Additions Just Won’t Help
While Armstrong did sign several players adding size and toughness to his roster, it failed to resolve the one glaring weakness the team faces – a lack of offence. Let’s examine that a bit. He went out and signed Johan Larsson, Tyler Pitlick, and John Hayden. If the offence needed to be upgraded, these moves did nothing in that respect. The grand tabulated offensive totals for all three of these newly signed forwards show 17 goals and 25 assists, adding up to 42 points in last season’s statistics. Now, compare that to the forwards who are not coming back. Brad Richardson, Carl Soderberg, and Vinnie Hinostroza contributed 28 goals and 40 assists for 68 points during the 2019-20 campaign.
Now, granted the new players on the squad are quite a bit younger, with their average age coming in at 27 years old. That’s a decrease compared to the departed players, whose average age is 32 years old. That may or may not be a factor, especially with the new players not signing long-term contracts.
Armstrong inherited a mess left by former general manager John Chayka and it may take some time for him to reconstruct the team he wants to put out on the ice.
Can the Current Arizona Coyotes Roster Get the Job Done?
That is yet to be determined. The team still lacks a centre who can put the puck in the net on a regular basis. Failures like acquiring Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel just didn’t get the job done. Chayka must have thought Hall would be his saviour and take the team to new heights. It just didn’t happen and he went to free agency and took his money – money the Coyotes didn’t have since they made no transactions to increase their cap space and had nothing to offer Hall.
He mentioned on more than one occasion that he wanted to be with a winner. So, what did he do? Signed with the Buffalo Sabres who haven’t been to the postseason since 2010-11. Go figure. What a waste of young prospects like Kevin Bahl, Nick Merkley, and Nate Schnarr. They also gave the New Jersey Devils a first-round pick in 2020 (the Devils took Dawson Mercer), and a conditional third-rounder in 2021. The Devils should be booked for grand larceny!
Similarly, Kessel has been an abhorrent failure in just accumulating 38 points during a season where he was injured. Yet he was still allowed to take up valuable ice time. Most every hockey fan in Arizona was excited to have acquired an offensive dynamo like Kessel, and then he did nothing to gather that excitement. Right now, his trade value is next to nil, and he still carries a $6.8 million contract through the next two seasons. It’s another deal which went south for the Desert Dogs.
What Other Teams Did To Improve
Looking at what other Pacific Division teams did to upgrade their rosters displays how it places the Coyotes in a precarious position.
- Vegas Golden Knights added Alex Pietrangelo and re-signed Robin Lehner
- Calgary Flames added Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev
- Edmonton Oilers added Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis, and Jesse Puljujarvi
- Anaheim Ducks added Derek Grant and Kevin Shattenkirk
- Vancouver Canucks added Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt, and re-signed Tyler Motte
- San Jose Sharks added Devan Dubnyk
- Los Angeles Kings added Quinton Byfield, Lias Andersson, and Olli Maatta
It would seem that the other teams in the Pacific Division did pretty well in adding some name players. Not the Coyotes. It almost seems as if Armstrong is content with the players he has. That is, unless, a really good offer for veterans whose contracts expire after next season makes an appearance.
Is There a Plan Here?
While nobody wants Armstrong to just give away players, wouldn’t we all be interested in his vision for this team? Either the rest of the league is not intrigued by the players that the Coyotes could make a deal for, or something else is going on.
We all know that the new owner Alex Meruelo was hit hard with his other businesses sustaining financial issues due to the pandemic. With the next season still uncertain as to when or even how it will go forward, Armstrong is holding his cards close to his chest. That may be a good strategy, yet it almost guarantees an uphill battle to get to the playoffs next season.
Arizona Coyotes Roster Final Analysis
Even the most ardent Arizona Coyotes fan must admit they lack the scoring needed to win hockey games. Of course, the salary cap restrictions handed to Armstrong didn’t allow him to get creative.
Unless he can trade for a scorer or two, this team can still compete with a truly talented goalie like Darcy Kuemper. But he can’t do it all. That was distinctly displayed by the thrashing the Colorado Avalanche laid on the Coyotes in the playoffs.
So, the stark facts remain. This team as it is presently shaped will not be a playoff team. There are things that need to be done to get them there. Don’t forget the relationship of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and his teammates – it may be something which may need more than a band-aid to repair.
The simple facts are the other teams in their division improved and they failed (at least thus far) to do that.