Arizona Coyotes: 2017-18 Season Can Still Be a Net Positive

Derek Stepan #21 of the Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
Derek Stepan #21 of the Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Arizona Coyotes are in last place in the NHL, but this season could still do a lot of good for them

The Arizona Coyotes can still salvage this season. Not in the making the playoff way – that dream is long dead. No, this season can still be a net positive for the Coyotes, and reward them with massive team change.

First, the offseason moves that the Coyotes made in 2017 will pay off for the rest of the time those players are around. Maybe they don’t fit into the assigned roles, but they do fit on the team. Plus, there’s the opportunity to draft a true superstar for the first time. Also, the team can sell off pieces and get even more draft picks.

Offseason Moves

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The Coyotes, under the leadership of general manager John Chayka, traded for Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, and Nick Cousins in the offseason. They also have traded for Josh Archibald and Scott Wedgewood, also adding Freddie Hamilton off of waivers during the season.

Those trades have massively changed the makeup of the Coyotes. Stepan can be a long-term second line center. Hjalmarsson, under the direction of a different coach (and if healthy), would make a great partner for Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Raanta has turned his season around and will be a solid starting goaltender for the future. Plus, with an average contract season, he will come cheaper than the Coyotes may have expected.

Demers, Archibald, and Cousins are solid depth for the Coyotes, something they haven’t necessarily had for a long time. These moves all make them better in the long run, and it appears that Chayka knows what he’s doing, at least when it comes to roster makeup.

The Draft

The Arizona Coyotes will have the best odds in the NHL draft should everything stay the same. That hasn’t paid off in the past, but this year, things feel different. The Coyotes, even if they don’t get pick number one, will likely get the second or third overall pick. All four possible options will likely turn into a franchise player.

With Rasmus Dahlin, the Coyotes could get the best defenseman of the future. They could also add Adam Boqvist, Brady Tkachuk, or Andrei Svechnikov. Filip Zadina could sneak into the top three as well.

If they end up in last place in the NHL standings, the Coyotes will also get the 63rd pick and the best pick in the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh round. Trading away their second and fifth round pick before this season likely wasn’t a good idea.

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Still, the Coyotes will get the Minnesota Wild’s second rounder (Minnesota is currently out of the playoffs) and another second-round talent at the beginning of the third round.

What Else the Coyotes Need

Finally, what else do the Coyotes need? Well, despite their moves for Hjalmarsson and Stepan, the Coyotes could still use players in their position. Another true top-four defenseman (assuming the Coyotes don’t get Dahlin) and a top-line center.

They could get these in the draft, especially if they’re able to trade a piece for a first-round pick. That would be either Max Domi, who’s underperforming for the second straight season, or Christian Dvorak. If the Arizona Coyotes move Stepan to the second line, Dvorak becomes redundant. He’s a young center, moving him somewhere he’ll be appreciated would bring back a solid return.

There are a couple other pieces the Coyotes could consider moving, especially in the minors and prospects who could bring back returns for this coming draft. The Coyotes need as many picks as possible here, especially with how deep this upcoming rookie class is.

There’s also the coming youth movement that the Arizona Coyotes are anticipating. With Dylan Strome, Nick Merkley, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Lawson Crouse, Cam Dineen, Adin Hill, Kyle Capobianco, and Conor Garland in the AHL or juniors. Add to that this draft class, and the Coyotes are the team of the future.

Next: Bold Predictions for the Coyotes

They need to start working in that youth group. At this point, they can’t be worse. Why not bring them up and develop them in the NHL the rest of the season?