2016-17 NHL Preview: Arizona Coyotes Relying on Youth for Playoff Chances

It’s now August and hockey is again just a month away, with the World Cup of Hockey in September, which means — yes — it is that time of the year again! This month we will be previewing each team’s 2016-17 season. Tonight, it’s the Arizona Coyotes.

Additions: Alex Goligoski, Jamie McGinn, Ryan White, Clayton Keller, Jakob Chychrun

Subtractions: Kyle Chipchura, Boyd Gordon, Jiri Sekac

The Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year last season. They fired their old GM, Don Maloney, and replaced him with now 27-year-old John Chayka, who joined the club as the youngest general manager in NHL history. Could they make it to the playoffs again in 2017 for the first time since losing out to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Final?

They improved a heck of a whole lot on the backend, adding defenseman Alex Goligoski who was traded from the Dallas Stars for a fifth round pick and signed to a five-year deal, as well as Jakob Chychrun who was drafted 16th overall at this year’s entry draft after Arizona acquired the pick in a trade involving former NHLer and Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk’s contract.

Goligoski had 5 goals, 28 points, and a plus-21 rating last season in Dallas. Chychrun had 27 goals and 82 points with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

Up front, they added Jamie McGinn who was with the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks last season. He posted a career-high 22 goals and 39 points collectively. They also added former Philadelphia Flyer Ryan White for depth and versatility and Clayton Keller, their first round, seventh overall pick of this year’s draft. Keller had 37 goals and 107 points for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.

The Arizona Coyotes have some more work to do if they want to contend for the Cup, but they are closing in on the postseason again. They have the youth and the offensive firepower to get it done. They have their leader and captain Shane Doan who’s more than willing to help out his team to get to the promise land. The one thing they’ll have to focus on is defense. Can they help their goalie out a bit more, whether it’s Mike Smith or Louis Domingue? They finished the 2015-16 campaign ranked 3rd worst in goals-against, so if they can cut down on those numbers, that will definitely lead to a lot more offensive zone time and chances, because the more goals you let in, that generally means you’re spending too much time in your own zone.

Also something interesting to me is that Louis Domingue was signed for two more years as their back-up. Now given the games I’ve watched with Domingue in net, he was … generally okay, but the ones that got away from him he should have had. Soft goals, every goalie has ’em, but with a record of 15-18-5, he’s got to be better as a back-up.

Prediction: The Arizona Coyotes come close, but miss the playoffs for a fifth straight year.

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