4 Big Questions for the Arizona Coyotes in 2020-21

Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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There’s four big questions facing the Arizona Coyotes in 2020-21.

Our 2020-21 NHL Season Previews covering every team continues today as we take a hard, long look at the Arizona Coyotes and what lies ahead for them this year.

We are going to delve into the four biggest questions staring the Coyotes in the face in 2020-21, as we did with the Anaheim Ducks here, and we will do the same for every single team all the way through to Jan. 13, 2021.

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And we have a lot to dive into with the Arizona Coyotes. A lot.

It was a rough offseason for the Yotes who hired a new General Manager in Bill Armstrong, who in turn was launched straight into the fire.

Without even having time to get settled, Armstrong had to deal with his Captain in Oliver Ekman-Larsson wanting a trade, coupled with having to cut 2020 Draft pick Mitchell Miller after he was found to have abused a Black disabled classmate at school.

With the prospects cupboard also pretty bare, it has been a rough start to life in Arizona for Armstrong, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Coyotes will be any good in 2020-21.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into the Four Biggest Questions facing the Arizona Coyotes during the 2020-21 NHL season…

4. Is a mass teardown on the way?

The Arizona Coyotes are one big hot mess right now, there’s just no nice way of putting it at this stage.

For some of the reasons we mapped out above, and a lot more, this is a franchise without a clear identity right now and things could get a lot worse before they get better.

Granted, they did make the postseason in 2019-20 under Head Coach Rick Tocchet for the first time since the 2011-12 season, losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the First Round after beating the Nashville Predators in the Best-of-Five Play-In series.

However, that was effectively just putting lipstick on a pig because the Coyotes were not very good in 2019-20, and they seemed to regress dramatically in the second-half of the year even after acquiring elite winger Taylor Hall at the Trade Deadline.

Arizona won’t have Hall this season, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres in Free Agency, and they also don’t have a lot of other standout stars on this roster after trading Derek Stepan to the Ottawa Senators.

That deal did bring back a Second-Round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and it could also be a precursor of things to come for this stagnant franchise.

After all, they wasted a ton of picks on Taylor Hall, they cut their highest pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft Mitchell Miller due to off-ice issues, and they were also stripped off their 2020 Second Round pick and their First Round selection in 2021 for violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy.

So, could new General Manager Bill Armstrong look to commence a massive teardown in order to load up on draft picks and then restock a seriously depleted farm system?

With very little cap room too and a bunch of fading veterans on big contracts, Armstrong could be tempted to clean house at the Trade Deadline if the Coyotes fail to pull their weight in the West Division in 2020-21, pulling the trigger on a full rebuild and attempting to get some tangible assets back in order to build for the future.

It is a situation that could well be on the cards this season and it is one worth keeping an eye on, especially if the Arizona Coyotes get off to a slow start in what will be a tough West Division.