When the Arizona Coyotes owner, Chairman & Governor Alex Meruelo announced that he had named Bill Armstrong as his new general manager last September, everyone knew change was inevitable. Armstrong joined the Coyotes from the St. Louis Blues, where he served as the club’s Assistant General Manager/Director of Amateur Scouting for two years and was instrumental in building the Blues team that won the 2019 Stanley Cup. Great credentials, and it goes without saying that Armstrong wants to build a winner.
He possesses strong ability to assess talent, and his tremendous draft record has to help the team going forward. Armstrong started out slowly without making any critical moves waiting to give the roster he inherited a shot at getting into the postseason. While that didn’t happen, it must be noted that he did his due diligence in hopes the team would respond.
The 2021-22 Arizona Coyotes Will Look Way Different
So, Armstrong tried to call his players out to perform and they failed to respond. His next move is what any qualified GM would make. He’s rebuilding the team, changing up the roster, but most importantly acquiring draft assets to accomplish his goal of bringing back winning hockey to Arizona. The team’s dismal postseason record is obvious. They really haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012. Sure, they qualified for the 2020 playoffs during a shortened pandemic laced season, but so did 23 other teams. Not much of a feather in their hat. Now, Bill Armstrong is going about putting into effect HIS plan to change the fortunes of the Coyotes.
How is he doing that? REBUILD… baby that’s how! Some argue the current Coyotes’ team seems to have been in some form of rebuild for quite some time. That is certainly true, but Armstrong is going full force… all hands on deck into the scary world of rebuilding the team. He’s doing it the correct way by building the core of the team’s draft picks. After some wheeling and dealing during the recent NHL draft period, he has accumulated a boatload of 2022 draft picks. Besides the team’s 1st through 6th picks, they have added an additional first round choice along with four second-round selections.
What that does is give Armstrong a very strong position to either use the draft choices or trade them to move up in the draft or acquire new players. What that means for Coyotes’ fans is the first couple of years starting this season, may not be that particularly attractive. The moves they made are certainly aligned in order to ‘tank’ this next season with hopes of gathering a shot at drafting a top prospect like Shane Wright. The Coyotes luck at the draft lottery has not been great. Perhaps this next draft will be different.
Dissecting The Moves Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong Has Made Thus Far
It must be noted that what Bill Armstrong did in acquiring contracts other teams didn’t want is ingenious. Look at the trade to acquire defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers desperately needed additional cap space caused by the unchanged cap limit remaining stagnant at $81.5 million. Enter the Coyotes who had upwards of $31 million cap space at one time. Not only did the Arizona club add the services of Gostisbehere, but Armstrong got the Flyers to throw in a second-round 2022 draft pick along with a seventh-rounder too! The return to Philly? Try NOTHING! Now that is some dealing. Granted Gostisbehere may not be all that and a bucket of greasy chicken, but the Coyotes needed defencemen. As the season ended, they had only three roster D-men available on the blueline.
It seems to be Armstrong’s plan (wouldn’t we all like to see the actual plan?) to dismantle the team and grab as many expiring or bad contracts from other teams in return for draft picks. In the case of the Darcy Kuemper trade, he did manage again to be adept at getting what he wanted from a deal. Not only did he get a good young defenceman in Conor Timmins in return, he also received the 9th overall 2021 draft pick. Then, Armstrong selected Dylan Guenther with that pick who was projected by many experts to be selected sooner than 9th. He was an excellent choice and looks to be a promising forward for the rebuilding Coyotes.
Let’s Face it, the 2021-22 Arizona Coyotes Won’t be Very Good
With players like Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, and Andrew Ladd filling roster spots, the Coyotes will not be challenging for a playoff spot. More like a lottery pick spot. Without key players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, and Darcy Kuemper, the team will flounder near the bottom of the standings. It has to be part of Armstrong’s plan. Why else would he bring in players who are 35 and on their way out? Or, better yet… players with contracts which expire after this next season? They (and their loyal fans) must endure pain before glory makes an appearance.
Just look at the skill level of the current Coyotes’ roster. It won’t overwhelm you as it won’t overwhelm many of their opponents in the upcoming season. It will be worse if Armstrong deals forward Christian Dvorak, which has been rumoured recently. Here’s a quick rundown of how they may look going forward.
What The Future Holds For The Arizona Coyotes
With the prospect of new players, a potential new east valley arena; and a GM who is crafty at making deals and decisions, the Coyotes future should be bright. They are blowing it up and starting over, and after the mess John Chayka left, that seemed to be the best solution. The team will have a new white kachina jersey this new season. Along with hopes of a new more competitive team, that can only be a good thing.