In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Tenth up are the Arizona Coyotes who are in their 23rd season as an NHL team. Fun factoid, they made the playoffs the first four consecutive seasons as a team. They have more recently gone seven consecutive seasons without making the playoffs.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 18th
- Goals for Rank: 28th
- Goals against Rank: 5th
- PP Rank: 26th
- PK Rank: 1st
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 21st
- Western Conference Standings: 10th
- Pacific Division Standings: 4th
- Coach: Rick Tocchet (3rd season with the Coyotes; 68-76-20; career 121-145-46)
On offense, this was the fourth worst team in the NHL last year. Specifically, they did not have a player above 50 points, and only had two forwards with over 40 points. Only the Anaheim Ducks can share that position with Arizona. Clayton Keller was their top scorer last year putting up 14 goals and 47 points across 82 games. This was markedly down from the 65 points he put up in his first full season. Phil Kessel stepped in as the big offseason transaction and it appears as if the top line of Kessel, Derek Stepan and Christian Dvorak could showcase Arizona this year. Derek had just 35 points last year while Christian was sidelined for a good part of the season with a pectoral injury. This team will struggle on offense and ironically its players deeper on the roster such as Vinnie Hinostroza, Christian Fischer and Conor Garland who might provide some value for them this season. Ultimately though I anticipate this team struggling to score this season.
Defensively, this team allowed the 11th fewest shots against last season. Kudos go out to the grit that this team had being ninth in hits (2,208) and third in blocked shots (1,298). Lawson Crouse had the second most hits in the NHL (288) while Nicklas Hjalmarsson blocked 187 shots, second most in the league and Alex Goligoski blocked 154 shots (15th most in the NHL). Limiting these shots seems to be somewhat sustainable as long as the players remain healthy (Hjalmarsson, Crouse and Goligoski missed a combined 11 games last season). Additionally, they had the best PK unit last year at 85%. It helped that this team was penalized the fourth fewest in the league last year. My league has hits and blocked shots as a stat and I’m looking to this team to help me out there.
In net, Darcy Kuemper had a respectable 2.33GAA (sixth in the NHL) and .925 Sv% (sixth in NHL) last season. Antti Raanta was limited to just 12 starts due to injuries last year but also had a 2.88GAA (30th in the NHL) and .901 Sv% (42nd in NHL) across just 12 games. For Darcy, those figures represent the second best year in his career behind 2017-2018 season with the LA Kings, perhaps there is something to him being on a team that prioritizes defense or perhaps his stats were a little inflated last year. I am inclined to think he’s an above average goalie.
Behind the bench, Rick Tocchet will be entering his third season as head coach of Arizona. I want to believe in him but he has yet to finish better than 4th in his division in the four years he has collectively coached the Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes. Until I see some modicum of him coaching a team above that, I can’t back his abilities as a coach (obviously as a player he was amazing).
- Phil Kessel
- Carl Soderberg
- Alex Galchenyuk
- Kevin Connauton
Prospects and Picks
Barrett Hayton — Drafted 5th overall in 2018, Barrett has been doing an unbelievable job in the OHL, last year he had 26 goals and 66 points in just 39 games being named captain of the team. He will likely spend time with the AHL Springfield Falcons this season moving up if he continues to impress. Barrett is a solid center who reads the ice well, and will aggressively forecheck and backcheck which is what makes him so enticing to watch on the ice, he will be a valuable add to the Coyotes roster.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Clayton Keller — I will begin by saying I’m bullish on Clayton as a long term star in the NHL. After scoring 65 points his first season he dropped down to just 14 goals and 47 points last season. I’m anticipating Phil Kessel drawing in some of the top shutdown focus from opposing teams as well as Clayton’s shooting percentage coming back up. He shot just 7% last year across 200 shots, this was down from almost 11% his rookie year, which, across his 200 shots last year would have given him an additional eight goals and put him in 25 goal territory which his what someone should expect from him.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$81MM Spent; $178k in Cap room; 21 players signed. This includes $5.275 from Marian Hossa.