Last season the Arizona Coyotes finished 24th, and put up an abysmal 35 wins. This season I don't expect it to be much easier for the Coyotes in 2016-17.
Last year the club's youth revival began it's first phase. Up front, youngsters such as Max Domi (21), Anthony Duclair (20), Tobias Rieder (23) played pivotal roles on what used on a new age Arizona team. Formerly led by faces such as long-time team captain Shane Doan (signed through 2016-17), 34-year-old Antoine Vermette (recently bought out) and Mikkel Boedker, who has also moved on (San Jose Sharks), the team is just beginning a major transitional phase where their top prospects are making the jump to the National Hockey League. While young players are great for the future and the development of a team, it is hard to win instantly with inexperienced players on your roster. A lot of people forget that development is a process and it takes time, sometimes even years. For example, look at the Chicago Blackhawks organization, yes they're a modern day dynasty with three Stanley Cup championships in five years, but just two seasons prior to the Hawks' cup win in 2010, they hadn't made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. During that time, they were fortunate to be able to pick up key organizational cornerstones such a Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The Coyotes are now in the process of rebuilding, and their prospects are going to be a major part of their rebuild. The Coyotes are very fortunate to have the likes of Domi, Duclair, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, and now Lawson Crouse in their hands - elite players like them will help speed up the rebuilding process. Let's not forget the Coyotes made it to the conference Finals back in 2011-12, but were eliminated by the then cup champ, Los Angeles Kings. All that said, it's hard to imagine Arizona advancing any further up the NHL standings just yet.
Let's take a look at some of the moves the team has made so far this offseason below.
D - Alex Goligoski (UFA, 5 years, $27.475M, $5.475M AAV)
D - Connor Murphy (Re-signing, RFA, 6 years, $23.1M, $3.85M AAV)
D - Michael Stone (Re-signing, RFA, 1 year, $4M, $4M AAV)
7th overall - C - Clayton Keller, U.S National Development Team, USHL
16th overall - D - Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting, OHL
68th overall - D - Cam Dineen, North Bay Battallion, OHL
158th overall - F - Patrick Kudla, Oakville Blades, OJHL
188th overall - D - Dean Stewart, U.S National Development Team, USHL
Arizona Coyotes acquired D Alex Goligoski from the Dallas Stars for 2016 5th round pick (Nicholas Caamano).
Arizona Coyotes acquired a 2016 4th round pick and a 2017 3rd round pick from the San Jose Sharks for F Maxim Letunov and a 2017 6th round pick.
Arizona Coyotes acquired the rights and contract of C Pavel Datsyuk along with a 2016 1st round pick (Jakob Chychrun) from the Detroit Red Wings for C Joe Vitale, 2016 1st round pick (Dennis Cholowski) and a 2016 2nd round pick (Givani Smith).
Arizona Coyotes acuired D Anthony Deangelo from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2016 2nd round pick (Libor Hajek).
Of all the moves Arizona has made this offseason, the most impactful one may have came more recently. Early today, the team announced that they'd acquired top prospect, Lawson Crouse from the Florida Panthers - at the cost of a couple of draft picks and also having to take another bloody awful contract in Dave Bolland.
Other moves such as buying out Antoine Vermette this summer won't necessarily improve the team instantly, but what it does is open up the door for some of the team's younger centres to assume a greater role next season playing in Vermette's place on the third line.
Bringing back Radim Vrbata at a low-cost was also a nice risk/reward move as well as the signing of Ryan White who had a decent season with the Philadelphia Flyers last season. But a move that is still a little concerning is that GM Jason Chayka hasn't been able to lock up RFA Tobias Rieder, who had a breakout season last year (14G-23A-37Pts). Speculation suggests that if the club can't come to terms with the 23-year-old forward, he could take his talents across the pond and play in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Rieder has improved in each of his two seasons, and was a very versatile player for the Coyotes last season - so seeing him walk, would really sting.
All in all, the Yotes have made some good moves - but most of the changes they've made don't suggest they will advance any further up the standing in 2016-17. Like I said before, this rebuild will take time in the desert, but it sure looks like it will pay off in the long run.
#16 Max Domi - #20 Dylan Strome - #19 Shane Doan
#10 Anthony Duclair - #11 Martin Hanzal - #17 Radim Vrbata