2017-18 Arizona Coyotes Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It's the Kings who play close to Hollywood, but the offseason had by the Arizona Coyotes has been like something out of a bad movie script. There were so many storylines out there that were interesting, unexpected, or just plain bizarre that I hardly know where to start. They made trades that were far more aggressive than you could have imagined. They fired a decent coach and instead hired a coach who worked for the team once before and left in scandal. Drama around their arena will never end. And instead of honoring the hero and face of their franchise, they unceremoniously sent him packing. They may have gotten better - not significantly but probably a little - but they certainly entertained like few teams could this offseason.
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Arizona Coyotes Offseason Moves
Let's start with that coaching situation. Seven years into his time as head coach of the Coyotes, Dave Tippett had missed the playoffs four years in a row. Instead of canning him the Coyotes gave him a five-year extension and gave him the title of Executive VP of Hockey Operations to go with his head coach role. It seemed odd, but then nothing seems odd when it's the Coyotes. A year later they fired Tippett. Nothing like paying a guy an inflated salary to not work for you for four years. To replace him they hired Rick Tocchet. On one hand it made sense - he has been an assistant with the Penguins the last three years, so he's been a part of the last two Stanley Cup wins. But Tocchet in Arizona just makes no sense. In 2005 he was an assistant with the Coyotes under coach Wayne Gretzky. Less than a year later, he and Gretzky's wife Janet Jones were accused of running a sports betting ring in New Jersey. The denied everything and sued everyone, but a year later he pleaded guilty to the charges. He took a two-year leave of absence. Later that year he was hired in Tampa Bay, where he quickly became head coach when Barry Melrose was fired 16 games into the season. Tocchet was lousy in Tampa Bay, but that's not the point. Bringing a guy back to coach who was last dragged out of your building in handcuffs - at least figuratively - isn't exactly a good look.
Shane Doan was the seventh overall pick by Winnipeg in the 1995 draft. 22 years ago he was still with the organization. A total of 1,540 games. And he had 972 points. He was more loyal to his franchise than anyone since, I don't know, Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh. He had certainly lost a step or three - he had just 27 points in 74 games last year. But instead of finding an exit strategy fitting of him and all he had given, they announced they wouldn't be bringing him back and left him exposed in the expansion draft. Classy.
Then, those trades. Both happened at the draft. First, they sent a young defenseman and a younger forward to Chicago for defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson is 30 and has won three Cups with Chicago. He's a very solid defenseman with an offensive touch, and he brings leadership and stability to the backend. Great addition. Next, they sent another young defenseman, Anthony DeAngelo, and a first round pick to the Rangers for center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta. Stepan is another very good leader - he's been to the playoffs in each of his seven seasons in the league - and is consistently a 50+ point performer. And Raanta was the hot backup goalie who people thought could be the next big thing. That's the same thing that Cam Talbot was for the Rangers a couple of years ago, and that worked out great for the Oilers. They needed Raanta because they had already traded prior starter Mike Smith to Calgary. The team really needs Raanta to step up as a starter, but he was excellent in fairly heavy relief duty last year - he appeared in 55 games over the last two seasons.
There is lots more that they did - shuffling of role players, mostly - but
I don't know if I can handle any more drama.
Arizona Coyotes NHL Outlook
So, what does it all amount to? There is a young, talented core - albeit a core that grossly underachieved last year. They got better this year, and they at least tried to replace the leadership they lost from Doan, and from letting Radim Vrbata leave as well. But they were just awful last year, and they are in a brutally-tough division. I guess if you were a massive optimist, and you had been drinking heavily, you could convince yourself that everything could fall in place, Tocchet will stay out of jail. And the team could be in the wild-card chase later than, say, November. I'm just not that kind of optimist. The team took steps forward, and they have some things to work with, but they still have so far to go that it's tough to see the light just yet. Despite adding guys like Stepan and Hjalmarsson they are still very young, and with at least three rookies looking to join the team in significant roles again this year they just aren't going to be ready for primetime. One, day, though...
Arizona Coyotes Schedule
The Coyotes will be the answer to a trivia question forever - they are the opponent in the first regular-season game ever played in Las Vegas. Oddly enough, it will be the second time they will have played the Golden Knights - the Ducks host them three days earlier in the second game of the season for both teams.
Arizona Coyotes NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has Arizona tied with five other teams as the longest shot on the board to win the Stanley Cup at +10000. BetOnline has the Coyotes at +5000 to win the Western Conference - tied with Vancouver and ahead of only Colorado and Vegas. At +2000 to win the Pacific Division their chances are seen as better only than Vegas. The win total is set at 33. Last year they won only 30 games.
2017-18 Arizona Coyotes Predictions
I think I've made it clear -- they are going to be lousy. Not as bad as Carolina, Vancouver and Vegas, but still pretty bad. I see no value in the season win total.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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