Arizona Coyotes: Top 3 reasons they can surprise in 2019

The Arizona Coyotes haven’t made the postseason since the 2011-12 season. Could they end the drought in 2019-20? Here are 3 reasons they might.

It has been a long postseason drought for the Arizona Coyotes. They haven’t tasted the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2011-12 season. Every year, it seems like the Coyotes might have what it takes to challenge for the postseason. And every season, they fall short.

The status quo isn’t good enough anymore for the Coyotes. That’s why they brought in Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg via trades with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche, respectively. General Manager John Chayka has been leading the front office since 2016. Another year without the playoffs might cost him his job.

However, he’s assembled an interesting team that could make the playoffs. This is one of the most talented rosters, on paper, that the Coyotes have ever iced. Will this be the year the young Coyotes finally get to taste the playoffs? Here are three reasons why they could surprise.

Phil The Thrill

The Phil Kessel trade was a huge one for the Coyotes. You could argue the Yotes have never had a player as dynamic as him. Kessel had 27 goals last season with the Penguins.

The Coyotes scored 209 without him, the fourth-lowest total in the NHL. If you simply add 27 goals to their team from last season, they would have finished with the 13th-lowest total.

That’s the kind of impact Kessel could make on the Coyotes. He could turn a dreadful offense that struggled to score into a respectable one. Kessel will be a valuable power play weapon for the Coyotes, who converted on just 16.28% of their man advantages last season.

Health

It’s impressive the Coyotes finished just four standings points out of the playoffs last season considering how many games players missed due to injuries. It’s not hard to see them improving if this trend reverses itself. They basically lost both Dylan Strome and Nick Schmaltz. Strome was traded for Schmaltz, who got injured after just 17 games with the team.

Christian Dvorak only played in 22 games. Derek Stepan missed 10 games. Jakob Chychrun missed 29 games. Michael Grabner missed 41 games. Jason Demers missed 47 games. It’s hard to be competitive when you lose guys like that.

Goaltending

Antti Raanta‘s injury was supposed to be the beginning of the end for the Coyotes. Instead, Darcy Keumper played very well, posting a .925% save percentage in 55 games. The Coyotes only got 12 games from Raanta, their starting goalie, yet still finished just four points out of the postseason.

Next: Top 3 Burning Questions For The Coyotes

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Given Raanta’s track record, if he’s healthy (which is a fairly big if), it’s not hard to see him carrying the Coyotes into the postseason. If he plays like he did during the 2017-18, when he posted a .930% save percentage in 47 games, the Coyotes could be playoff bound.

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