When the Arizona Coyotes drafted forward Ben McCartney in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Draft, they hoped he could be an effective player. Thus far he is turning into just that. While with the WHL Brandon Wheat Kings, he tallied 61 goals and 90 assists in 205 games — 1.36 points per game. He also can be an aggressive force, demonstrated by his 238 penalty minutes in that league. For a player standing just 6′ 0″, 185 pounds, that’s quite some physical play. He then graduated to the AHL. There he has played eight games for the Tucson Roadrunners gathering five goals and five assists. Finally, his dream to play in the NHL came true when he laced up his skates against the Anaheim Ducks last night in a 3-1 loss by the Yotes, looking impressive in his NHL debut
Ben McCartney May Be Just What the Arizona Coyotes Need
Right now the hapless Coyotes need a jolt of energy. McCartney, like previous Coyotes forward Michael Bunting, plays a similar style. He goes to the front of the net and makes things happen. While the loss of Bunting is being felt, (he has three goals and three assists with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season) it seems feasible that McCartney may be able to fill that role. He played 15:01 in his NHL debut and while he didn’t participate in the scoring, he did have two hits. He lined up with Johan Larsson and Phil Kessel. We’ll see how he does in the home game tonight against the newest NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. McCartney has an opportunity to show he belongs in the NHL.
Arizona Coyotes Have Multiple Problems
When the offence is dismal, scoring just 1.27 goals per game, and the defence is allowing four goals per game; wins are not going to happen. This team is displaying that right now. As with any losing streak, it takes additional effort and execution to snap out of it. Additionally, it may require a couple of players to step up and crank the engine to get the team out of the doldrums. Ben McCartney can’t do it alone, and Karel Vejmelka can’t either, although he has been exerting the effort of keeping his team in games. But, to be IN games you must score! We all knew going into this ‘rebuild’ that the Coyotes roster isn’t exactly a scoring machine. They are proving it every game, and 11 games without a win is getting old.
Some McCartney Magic Is Needed
If McCartney can work his magic and somehow spark this team into winning some games shortly, he may find himself a spot on the team. After all, it’s not like others have shined thus far this season. Clayton Keller, the $7.15 million man, has three goals to lead the team. They have been shut out in three of their 11 games and have tallied just one goal in five others. That type of offence is downright pitiful.
It doesn’t matter which player steps up and starts producing, but someone needs to do it soon before the franchise loses valuable fans who support the team. What exactly is wrong with Jakob Chychrun? After a really successful season last year with 0.73 points per game and leading the NHL in goals by a defenceman… he is scoreless in 11 games. Even worse, he has been on the ice for 18 of his team’s opponents’ goals. While he plays almost 25 minutes a game, there is concern over his lack of playing at the level he did last season. Does he miss his blueline partner Alex Goligoski that much?
Well… because there is no other direction to go at this point. Their futility is tough to watch, and fans are getting testy. It seems their goal of tanking is going strong, yet it could cost them some of their already limited and valuable fanbase. Did general manager Bill Armstrong overplay his ‘rebuild’ cards? While this season is already one to throw in the trash heap, how do you all of a sudden flip the switch to supporting a team this inept? It will take some nifty marketing and an enormous hope that with the prospect of a new arena and better players through the draft — all is not lost.
After all, McCartney, while still unproven at the NHL level, is a perfect example of how to build a team around the draft. Keep an eye on this kid, he’s got the tools to be a really outstanding NHL player. And, at this point, the Coyotes need him… desperately.