The Arizona Coyotes have not been known as a prolific scoring team. If you had checked over the last few seasons you wouldn’t see any Coyotes’ players names in the top 10, or even top 50. This season may be different. Three forwards and one D-man are driving the Arizona Coyotes’ offence. Namely, they are Conor Garland, Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, and Jakob Chychrun. In fact, going as far as the 2016-17 season the Coyotes highest ranking scorer was Clayton Keller in 50th place with 65 points during his first season in 2017-18.
Two Offensive Forces Are Driving Arizona Coyotes Offence
Both Garland (5-G, 8-A), and Dvorak (7-G, 6-A) are leading Arizona in points. While they are the two leaders let’s not forget about Nick Schmaltz (5-G, 6-A) and Jakob Chychrun (3-G, 7-A) who also are contributing to an offence which is actually producing this season. It seems the entire team is catching fire on the offensive end… FINALLY! They rank 21st in the NHL with a 2.75 goals scored per game. Remember, that was always around 27th to 30th in prior seasons, with the exception being last season when they were ranked 23rd.
The reason this is happening is all of the aforementioned players are young, and are now developing into talented players. If you haven’t followed the career of Conor Garland, he is an exceptionally talented player whose stick handling and nose for the net is driving the team upward. With Christian Dvorak he was set back with a severe injury during the the 2018-19 season where he only participated in 20 games. He had been in the 33-38 points per season range excluding that one injury-laden season. Well, this season both forwards are scoring at a 1.08 points per game average or a projected 60-point season.
Nick Schmaltz also had injury issues where after joining the Coyotes via a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, he only got in 17 games and then sustained a season-ending injury. This season he too has increased his offensive capabilities averaging 0.92 points per game. He has four power-play goals and leads the team in that category. Schmaltz is on pace to score 52 points.
Jakob Chychrun has really picked up his offensive numbers this season as well. He can accumulate as many as 47 points if he can stay on his current projection.
All Three Players Are Maturing as Players of the Future
To have three forwards and one defenceman come into their own in one season can be a real boost to the Coyotes’ fortunes this 2020-21 season. There is, of course, no guarantee that all four players will continue to stay on the offensive tear they are now displaying. Yet, if they do the team may actually have the foundation for a pretty darned good offensive team. There is a mixture of young and maturing players to go along with seasoned veterans.
The Coyotes went to St. Louis and showed the Blues they may be for real. They pulled off three of four games with vital wins. With the quirky scheduling due to COVID-19 causing all kinds of postponements due to protocols being enforced, the Coyotes will still have three additional games against the 2019 Cup victors at home. It goes without saying that it feels like a playoffs series with the Coyotes ahead 3-1… except all seven games will be played no matter the outcome.
The growth of the Coyotes, young prospects has finally started to pay off big dividends… if they can continue to play this well.
Garland and Dvorak Have Been on Fire
Dvorak has shown a terrific net-front presence, as has Garland. Dvorak has six goals and two assists in his last five games. Garland isn’t far off with three goals and four assists. If these two guys can keep it up, they may exceed expectations. Dvorak is developing into that top-line centre they had been hoping for since he was drafted 58th in 2014. Garland on the other hand, was selected 123rd in the 2015 draft. While Garland only earns $775, 000 on his contract, he is outplaying many other forwards on the team. With his continued tenacious play he can perhaps earn in the range of Dvorak’s $4.45 million, six-year contract he inked in 2018.
Both of these exceptional players are starting to be spark plugs for the team. Repeatedly they’ve been coming up with timely goals and taking the puck to the net. Crashing the net is second nature to both of them, and it proves the theory that when you do that you will score goals. If you don’t score, you leave a juicy rebound for a teammate, and that’s easy pickings for any team to enjoy.
The key to any offence is to get results and all four of these players are exhibiting that skill to the utmost. They have pretty much taken over the offence and that fires up the entire team.
If Clayton Keller Can Join This Group All The Better
While we’ve been boasting about four players, if Clayton Keller can join that group then the offence becomes even more substantial. He has four goals and four assists in 12 games with half his tallies being power-play goals. He scored an outstanding goal with 0.7 seconds remaining in the last game against the St. Louis Blues. He has the ability, but at times he disappears. If he can overcome that deficiency, he can become the player the team thought he could be when they awarded him with an eight-year $7.15 AAV contract. It’s up to him, and he showed he can be a clutch player when it counts. Now, he needs to get consistent with that performance and help his team succeed.
Coyotes Young Prospect Pool is Paying Dividends
When an NHL team invests in their young players they expect them to produce. With the results the Coyotes have seen recently they could possibly be the surprise team of the year. The thing to keep in mind is young players tend to develop at different paces. Some take off instantly, while others need additional development to become an NHL level player. If the Coyotes can get five players to get to that level this season, good things will transpire.
So, let’s see how well these guys do going forward.