Story by Charlie Crowley
A common term in the sports world is the phrase “ice cold.” This can have one of two connotations: 1) A player is so calm under pressure that he plays extremely well, as if he has ice in his veins, or 2) A team cannot catch a break to save their lives. In today’s article featuring the Arizona Coyotes, the reference is to number 2.
The Coyotes had another rough year. For example, their second leading point scorer was defenseman Keith Yandle. The only problem is that Yandle was traded to the New York Rangers on March 1, which means he spent the last month and a half of the season on Broadway. The Coyotes have plenty of upside in players such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and young guns Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, but need a few key components to turn their woes around.
With the NHL Draft starting on June 26, the Coyotes will have a fair amount of potential talent to choose from with the third overall pick. Although they will presumably not have the luxury of drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, there is plenty of other talent. Noah Hanifan , the top North American defenseman, is a solid 6’3, 203 at the age of 18. The third ranked North American forward Dylan Strome, who was McDavid’s linemate in juniors, has an impressive resume and a combination of size and skill. There is also the underlying chance they pick from across the pond with the likes of Finnish forward Mikko Rantanen or Swedish defensemen Gabriel Carlsson and Jacob Larsson.
The next priority to the team is that of free agency. The Coyotes number one goaltender this year, Mike Smith, went 14-42-5, letting in just over three goals a game. With unrestricted free agent Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild on the market, the Coyotes should look to make an offer, while also seeing if they can come in contact with Washington Capitals restricted free agent Braden Holtby. Strong goaltending coupled with the prospects that are currently in the Coyotes system will help the team get back to the playoffs.
The Coyotes, though dull as of late, have a lot to look forward to. The draft and free agency will be a key stepping stone in their short rebuilding phase, and will help steer them in the direction they want to go. They also have Ekman-Larsson, who is a mere 23 years of age. His current statistics show that he is destined to be an all star defenseman for years to come, as he still has another two to three years before he hits his prime. The Yotes will be howling back into the playoffs again before we know it, and if they get the right players, all they will have to worry about is their arena.
About the Writer…
Charlie Crowley is a soon to be junior studying communication and journalism. He spends most of his time playing hockey, sleeping, eating, and on Reddit. He’s also a Hoosier, and proud of it, but can’t hit the open three to save his life.