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yave1964

Coyotes offseason primer

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AAAANNNNNDDDD another team that I drank the koolaid and bought the tee shirt.....

 

FINAL RECORD 2017-18 29-41-12 dead last in the Western Conference

 

 I LOVED THE offseason moves that boy wonder GM made, signing Raanta to replace the aging Mike Smith, giving Shane Doan his gold watch and sending him on his way, trading for Stepan to fill a glaring need at center, adding Hjalmarsson from the Hawks and Goligoski also on the blueline. Throw in some fun young kids such as Domi, Chychrun and Keller among others and IMHO they were a contender for a playoff spot if all broke right.  Silly me.

  Raanta got hurt about five seconds after the national anthem and Domingue threw gasoline on the fire in net and a parade of ineptitude followed until Raanta came back and by the end of October (!) the season was essentially over. 

  Really though, this is the tale of two seasons. After starting out 2-15-3 and then struggling into February at 13-32-10 they caught fire, going 16-9-2 still not good enough to escape the basement in the West but good enough to hope.

  The damn thing is the moves mostly worked. Raanta when healthy went 21-17 with a fantastic .930 save pct and 2.24 goals against, Stepan was second on the team with 56 points, Keller was a beast with 65 points playing all 82 games. Goligoski was solid, Hjalmarsson admittedly was meh but still okay for a third pairing defender. 

   What really killed the 'Yotes was two fold, first the kids, Domi had a pathetic 9 goals and never found his mojo. Dvorak, Perlini and Fischer were all okay but none really stood out. Duclair and Reider were pretty bad and written off, dealt away midseason. Dylan Strome was recalled and was so slow you could time him with a sundial.The hope of the kid forwards produced one who stepped up in Keller and a bunch who were just there. They killed the team.

  The other big killer was the pathetic first half play of Oliver Ekman Larsson. You cannot go far enough in describing how bad he was in the first half of the year, he got it together late and the team responded with their hot streak but early on he looked lost under a new coach. Fingers need pointed at him for the fault of the team losing.

  They made a nice midseason addition, adding Keumper as a proven backup goalie so they don't have to run Domingue, Langhammer, Adin Hill or any of the rest of the comedy troupe that they used when Raanta went down. 

 

FREE AGENTS

Kevin Connauten is a very underrated defender producing 11 goals and quarterbacking the second power play. He may return.

Attention Flyer fans Zac Rinaldo and Luke Schenn are free agents!! Get them while they are hot!!

 So Connauten and nothing else. As usual they will be struggling to get to the cap floor.

 

 TOP PROSPECTS: 

Dylan Strome was a top five pick a few years ago and all that is holding him back is he cannot skate. I studied him, he glides East West instead of pushing hard North South. In todays game that requires speed I have doubts about his ability to stick.

Nick Merkley is a decent forward prospect who can shoot, Lawson Crouse came over from the Panthers and did little to impress the first time around, they hope he is a third line agitator who can score a bit. Overall the cupboards may not be bare but they are close. They do have the 5th pick in this years draft.

 

OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS

DO YOU EMPTY THE BANK TO RESIGN OEL? Everything I have read this week has the Coyotes going all in, offering 8 years at 8.5 million give or take depending on the source with GM Chayka saying he wants to get it done early to make a statement to allseven of their fans that they are for real. I wouldn't do it, quite frankly I do not believe their is a more overrated player in the game today but frankly I like the kid GM a lot and feel that in spite of the record most of his moves were moves that were necessary and correct. 

 

WHAT TO DO AT NUMBER FIVE? Depending on the mock draft board, it is possible, even probable that Brady Tkachuk will be there at five and is in the process of deciding to go to college in Boston or turn pro. If he is there I snag him up and promise him a spot in the NHL right now in the top six as long as he produces and convince him to turn pro now. 

 

THE KID FORWARDS.... WHAT NOW? A year ago I pegged Domi to have a breakout year and Keller to be a beast with the rest nice complimentary pieces, at best it was a mixed bag. I still believe in Domi but whispers are his name is being tossed out for a potential new home. At the least it is put up or shut up. Duclair and Reider were dispatched, leaving Chrsitian Fischer as a decent middle six guy, Perlini as the same and Dvorak as a possible first liner. I am not a believer in Strome or Crouse and Merkley was solid at Tuscon and will be given every shot at nailing down a spot on the second line. Throw in possibly Tkachuk and while I am not quite as high as last year I am cautiously optimistic.

 

 SOOOOOO, WHERE ARE THEY? Are they the worst team in the West or the team who beat teams regularly for the last two months of the season, or somewhere in between? I like the net duo of Raanta and Keumper, I like the mix at forward and the defense with OEL, Demers, Goligoski Chychrun and Hjalmarsson is good enough. 

  If they start hot they could get a big boost of self confidence and be a fun team to watch as they compete for a lower playoff spot. If they get off to a slow start and have a slew of early season injuries, it could be a cold winter in the desert.

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