Arizona Coyotes: Preview, Expectations For The 2017 Season
Up next in the in the Western Conference and Pacific Division preview, are the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have been on a mission to not only win the Stanley Cup but just make it to the playoffs with a degree of urgency lately. Though they have not come close to winning the Stanley Cup, it does seem that they are heading in the right direction.
Normally, a team’s coaching change would be the headline story in a team makeover. However, this is not the case for the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes did make a coaching change, but the roster may look completely different to those that aren’t too familiar with the team. While some of the “usual suspects” are still on the team, some familiar names and faces are going to see some new beginnings. With those new beginnings come some questions that need to be answered during the 2017-18 season. The following roster moves took place this offseason for the Coyotes:
Niklas Hjalmarsson: Three-time Stanley Cup champion acquired in a trade with Chicago. Hjalmarsson has 143 points (23 goals, 120 assists) in 623 games.
Derek Stepan: Acquired in a trade with New York Rangers. Stepan has 360 points (128 goals, 232 assists) in 515 games with New York. Among his accomplishments: Helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
Antti Raanta: Raanta has never been a full-fledged starting goalie. With that said, the Coyotes hope and believe he can grow into that role. Given his age and inexperience being a starter, this move almost seems as if Raanta will be a project player. However, being a backup for Henrik Lundqvist may serve well in putting him in the starter role for Arizona.
Shane Doan: Released after spending 21 years in Arizona. A lot of which was in a leadership role.
Mike Smith: After six seasons as Arizona’s No. 1 goalie was traded to Calgary.
While a small handful of moves were made, the majority of Arizona’s young core players stayed the same. In fact, the likes of young stars Dylan Strome, at just 20-years old could play. Additionally, the youngster Clayton Keller who is just 19-years old could play. So could 20-year old Christian Fischer.
On defense, the Coyotes look much improved as well. Along with the new players on defense named above, Rick Tocchet still has the talented Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski to anchor the backend. The moves mentioned throughout this article were made in hopes to vastly improve the team overall. When the numbers are crunched, it looks like these roster moves may help. Fans will have to just wait and see.