With the NHL regular season right around the corner, TSN.ca profiles each team leading up to puck drop. Next up is the Arizona Coyotes, looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2012 - and in a tough Pacific Division at that. Catch up on their summer moves and the issues they face this season, as well as Craig Button's analysis of their top prospect and an analytical breakdown by TSN's Scott Cullen.
Division: Pacific GM: Don Maloney Head Coach: Dave Tippett
2013-14: 37-30-15 (4th in Pacific) Playoffs: Did not qualify
Goals For: 210 (20th) Goals Against: 224 (18th) PP: 19.9% (4th) PK: 79 (26th)
That Was Then:
The newly-minted Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs for the second straight season in 2013-2014. A late-season seven-game losing skid, due in part to an injury to goaltender Mike Smith, led to the Coyotes' demise.
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Coyotes sat in the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference ahead of the Dallas Stars. In a Mar. 24 game against the New York Rangers, defenceman Derek Morris nudged Rangers forward Derick Brassard late in the third period, causing Brassard to fall onto Smith's legs, knocking him out of the game and the season. Thomas Greiss came in relief that night, allowing the tying goal and the winning goal in overtime. Greiss did manage to win the next two games for the Coyotes, but lost the next seven (three in overtime or shootout) and the Coytoes missed the playoffs by just two points.
Even if Smith had been healthy down the stretch, they still had problems putting the puck in the net. While they were fourth in the NHL in power play percentage (19.1 per cent), they only managed to score 210 total goals and were 20th in the league in that category.
Defenceman Keith Yandle was the team's highest point producer with 53, including eight goals and 45 assists. Radim Vrbata led all forwards in points with 51, while Antoine Vermette scored the most goals (24).
Mike Ribeiro had a down year and always reliable captain Shane Doan missed time with a rare bout of Rocky Mountain Fever.
On the plus side, 24-year-old Mikkel Boedker broke through with his best season yet as a pro. He scored 19 goals and added 32 assists, both career highs. Blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a stellar campaign as well, scoring 15 goals and adding 29 assists in just his fourth NHL season.
Another positive for Arizona was the play of Smith. After two solid seasons in Glendale, the Coyotes awarded him with a six-year extension going into last season. Smith appeared in 62 games, recording a 27-21-10 record with a 2.64 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. His stellar play earned him a spot on Canada's gold medal-winning Olympic team in Sochi.
Scott Cullen's Analytics
Coyotes 2013-14 Stats by Quarter
Key: GPG= goals per game, GAA= goals-against per game, SH%= even-strength shooting percentage, SV%= even-strength save percentage, SAF%= score-adjusted Fenwick percentage (differential of shot attempts faced vs. shot attempts, excluding blocked shots, adjusted for game score), PTS%= percentage of available points.
Games 1-20: Unusually high percentages, at both ends, and a 4-1 shootout record overpowered shaky possession stats.
Games 21-41: Hit a rough patch offensively, winding up with a losing record despite solid goaltending and possession.
Games 42-62: Goal-scoring crashed with, aside from a streaking Antoine Vermette, a really low finishing rate.
Games 63-82: Continued to struggle offensively, while goaltending kept them competitive, it wasn't enough to reach the postseason.
Key 2014 Additions: C Alexandre Bolduc, G Devan Dubnyk, D Andrew Campbell, RW B.J. Crombeen, C Sam Gagner, G Mike McKenna, C Joe Vitale
Key 2014 Subtractions: LW Paul Bissonnette, G Thomas Greiss, C Jeff Halpern, LW Tim Kennedy, D Derek Morris, C Mike Ribeiro, RW Radim Vrbata
This Is Now:
While the geographical name for this team is different, the on-ice product looks a bit similar aside from a couple of changes.
The Coyotes lost one of their top scorers - Vrbata - to the Vancouver Canucks via free agency and bought out the remaining three years of Ribeiro's contract after a lacklustre season in Glendale.
They did, however, bring in Sam Gagner. The 25-year-old centre had a down year with Edmonton in 2013-14, scoring just 10 goals and 27 assists with a minus-29 rating. The London, Ont. native has yet to reach the 50-point plateau - hitting a career high of 49 during his rookie campaign in 2007-08 - but may benefit from a change of scenery with his prime years still ahead.
The Coyotes also added gritty forwards B.J. Crombeen (as part of the Gagner deal) and Joe Vitale to shore up the bottom six and goaltender Devan Dubnyk to back up Mike Smith after Thomas Greiss left for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Arizona is hoping for a big year out of forward Martin Erat, whom they acquired from the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline. The 32-year-old scored just twice over 17 games with the Coyotes, but is playing for a new contract this year as his current deal expires at season's end. Erat has shown he can put the puck in the net in the past with the Nashville Predators and could do the same with a full year in the desert.
Off the ice, the team named former Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier as senior vice-president and assistant general manager. Meanwhile, Dave Tippett enters his fifth season as the Coyotes' bench boss and looks to get his team back to the playoffs for the first time since they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Final. That won't be an easy feat, especially in the Pacific Division where California superpowers Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim are almost a lock to make the NHL's second season.
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
|Mikkel Boedker||Martin Hanzal||Martin Erat|
|Lauri Korpikoski||Antoine Vermette||Shane Doan|
|Rob Klinkhammer||Sam Gagner||David Moss|
|Brandon McMillan||Kyle Chipchura||B.J. Crombeen|
|Lucas Lessio||Joe Vitale||Jordan Szwarz|
|Max Domi||Henrik Samuelsson||Tobias Rieder|
|Oliver Ekman-Larsson||Zbynek Michalek|
|Keith Yandle||Michael Stone|
|David Schlemko||Connor Murphy|
|Brandon Gormley||Chris Summers|
|Andrew Campbell||Dylan Reese|
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button's Top Prospect:
The NHL is a fast-paced league which requires players to do things at high speed and Max Domi is ideally suited to excel. With speed, quickness and real explosiveness in his skating, he can push the tempo. He is an excellent passer but his shot makes him a dual offensive threat. His ability to think, see the play and execute quickly will allow him to be a top line player in the NHL."
Domi, selected 12th overall by Arizona in 2013, spent last season with the London Knights, his third in the OHL, and scored 34 goals with 59 assists over 61 games.
Fantasy - Cullen's Player to Watch - Sam Gagner
It looked like 24-year-old Gagner might have been poised for a big year in 2013-2014, building on his career-best points-per-game production in the shortened 2012-2013 season, when he scored 38 points in 48 games.
Those plans were derailed, however, when Gagner had his jaw broken by Zack Kassian in the preseason and Gagner missed nearly the entire first month of the season, then had no goals and one assist in his first seven games. He started behind due to injury and couldn't get on track, ending with a career-low 37 points in 67 games.