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Coyotes Season May Be Finished, but There Is Still Plenty of Questions

Another season has passed for the Coyotes, which came with many surprises as well as its faults. The Coyotes finished the year with a final record of 28-40-14 for 70 points. Entering the season, many thought the Coyotes would finish dead last in the entire league, not having a competitive roster. As this was partly true, nobody expected the Coyotes to finish sixth to last this year. The Arizona Coyotes offseason will be something to watch for.

There was a lot of growth and positives to take away from this year. Matias Maccelli put on a show, as he is a hot topic within the Calder Trophy conversations. Clayton Keller tied Keith Tkachuk for the most points in Coyotes’ history. Juuso Vailmaki emerged as an everyday NHLer, and Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer had good offensive years, putting up good numbers.

What will happen to Coyotes’ Prospects, Cooley, Guenther, etc.?

One aspect in the Arizona Coyotes offseason to watch for is their prospects. The Coyotes have been lucky with prospects under Bill Armstrong, the general manager. With the likes of Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, Conor Geekie, and many more, there’s no shying away from this talented prospect pool. For Guenther’s sake, he has been playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL). So far, in just six playoff games, he has 11 points, eight  being goals. Geekie, who also is playing in the WHL, put up a career year with the Winnipeg Ice, scoring 35 goals in just 66 games. His Ice have also made the playoffs as he’s scored five points in six games.

Logan Cooley has also been a big name in headlines as Minnesota University made the Frozen Four taking on Quinnipiac in the finals. Ultimately losing 3-2. Nonetheless, it was an amazing season for Cooley and the rest of the Gophers. On the bright side, Coyotes had a prospect on the winning side, Sam Lipkin. A 2021 7th-round draft pick, he has been quite the pleasant surprise for the scouting department. During his freshman year, we saw him score 14 goals and 29 assists for 43 points in 39 games. He also assisted on the game-winning goal.

With the NCAA season over, Lipkin made the decision to return to Quinnipiac, as Cooley has yet to make a decision. According to Craig Morgan, we should expect a decision soon.

Will Coyotes See Draft Lottery Luck?

One huge thing to watch for in the Arizona Coyotes offseason is the draft lottery. The Coyotes enjoyed some success at home or “Mullett Magic,” but that certainly did not help their odds for the draft. They finished the year 21-15-5 at home to close out the year. Finishing 6th last in the NHL, they have a 7.5 chance to jump to the number one spot. But the Coyotes have never enjoyed lottery luck. They have never moved up in the lottery, they have often moved down, and despite missing the postseason in 18 of their 27 Valley seasons.

The draft is set for May 8th at 4 p.m. Arizona time. The Coyotes are only allowed to move down twice, so the worst possible scenario has them drafting at eight, as the best would be at the holy grail, number one. With Ottawa missing the playoffs, they also have the Senators pick in a very deep draft. With no movement in the lottery, we could see them picking at six and 12, which could give another jump start to this rebuild.

Bill Armstrong spoke on the draft lottery, saying this, “With everything we do in hockey ops, we always prepare for the best scenario and prepare for the worst,” GM Bill Armstrong said. “You’ve got a chance to win it, but the odds are pretty slim so let’s be honest. If we win we’ll be excited. If we don’t, then it’s back to work.”

Once we know where the Coyotes will draft, then will we have a better understanding what to expect.

What should we expect from the 2023 NHL draft?

Like mentioned above, the Coyotes will have two first-round picks heading into the 2023 NHL draft. Adding onto that they will have 12 picks in total, four of which will be in the third round. Everyone knows Connor Bedard, he is going to be the 1st overall selection. Assuming the Coyotes stick in the 5-8 range, who are some players that could be heading to the desert?

Some names that pop out are Will Smith, Zach Benson, and Oliver Moore. All of which are dynamic players that can help this rebuild. They also have Ottawa’s first-rounder. Assuming the pick doesn’t jump ten spots to the number two selection, this gives room for the scouting department to draft another elite player. The Coyotes could look to draft a defenseman. as that are could use some improvement.

Taking the gamble with the Jakob Chychrun trade seems like it has paid off. Getting a draft pick in the top 15 is excellent, especially with this year’s draft class. Having the potential to be one of the best classes, taking the risk was worth it. The 2023 NHL draft will be held in Nashville on June 28th-June 29th.

Will Coyotes’ new arena get passed?

The Coyotes have battled relocation rumours since they were moved to Arizona. This time, they are in a unique situation they have yet to see themselves in. Moving on from Gila River Arena in Glendale, lots had several questions. Some of those questions were silenced when they found a temporary home at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena facility for the 2022-23 season. Of course, Mullett Arena is just a temporary arena until they find a place to play.

This is where they need some things to go their way. Tempe voters will receive their ballots in the mail on Wednesday for propositions 301, 302 and 303. A simple majority vote on each of the propositions means that the arena portion of the Coyotes’ project is a go. If any of the three propositions does not get a majority yes vote on the all mail-in ballots, the project is no more. This of course would be awful news for the team, as this has been a campaign going on for quite some time.

We will find out what will come of the Coyotes proposed arena on May 16th.

What will next year look like?

This is where all the Arizona Coyotes offseason questions lie. Proving a lot of critics wrong this year, over-performing than many though, next year we should see much of the same. Clayton Keller breaking his career high in points show what kind of player they have in him. They also have players like Crouse, Maccelli, and Valimaki that took steps forward with their play. This team will certainly not be a playoff team by any means, but, they will hopefully show more growth.

Bill Armstrong talked about this saying, “I think we’ve got a couple of pieces where we can go out and add more, but we’re certainly not going to get carried away with it,” Armstrong said. “There were teams that you saw in the summer that got carried away with it and it didn’t really get them where they wanted to go.”

“You’ve got to let the team itself — the core pieces — drive you where you’re gonna go. If that’s in the playoffs then we’ve got lots of options to go acquire players and make us even better. But if we’re not there yet, we’ve got to let that happen naturally and not force it by all of the sudden signing somebody to a huge amount of money and not actually getting any better, and then you end up paying for it in the longer term. We have to let our players — the players that are here in our core — dictate where we’re going.”

Main Photo: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


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