2019 Arizona Coyotes Odds to win Stanley Cup with Expert Predictions
Last year was a quietly impressive year for the Arizona Coyotes. They couldn't score, ranking 28th in the league in goals scored. Their power play ranked 26th. And they were hit very hard by injuries. Yet, when the dust settled in the very good Western Conference, they had missed the wild card by only four points. I'm not suggesting that they were a good team last year, but they were strong enough, and tough enough, that they could be just a few tweaks away from respectability. And they made a few tweaks this summer. But will a team that has teased us with potential several times, but hasn't made the playoffs since 2012, be able to turn a corner and get into the mix in a conference that again promises to be a brutal battle?
Arizona Coyotes Offseason Moves
The team didn't make a lot of moves this summer, but the ones they did make are certainly interesting. They obviously felt that the top two lines were in need of some help, because they made aggressive moves to improve both by adding wingers.
The big move, unquestionably, is the addition of Phil Kessel. They traded for the right winger with Pittsburgh , sending forward Alex Galchenyuk and prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph the other way. The price was not insignificant - Galchenyuk was the team's third-leading scorer, and Joseph is a defenseman who was a first-round pick in 2017 and has some real offensive upside. But the team was led in scoring by Clayton Keller with a dismal 47 points last year, so they desperately need offense. And Kessel had a point per game last year and 10 points more the year before. He's impressive. And he's shockingly durable - he hasn't missed a regular-season game since 2010. Kessel is a controversial figure. His approach to fitness is, well, unconventional - in that he doesn't believe in it. He has a body that makes many dads look good in comparison, and he is famously known for his love of hot dogs. And his attitude isn't always bubbly. But it somehow works for him, and he has as natural an offensive touch as there is in the league. Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz had very good chemistry last year in the 17 games between when he was acquired from Chicago and when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. The team gave Schmaltz a big seven-year contract in March and gave Keller a bigger eight-year deal in September, so the organization obviously believes in those two. If they can find chemistry with Kessel, and Kessel hasn't typically been too hard to play with, then the improvement offensively could be massive for the team. He is also excellent on the power play, which addresses another big area of need for the squad. Kessel is an excellent addition here.
The second big move up front was the addition of Carl Soderberg for the second line, who they acquired from Colorado for defenseman Kevin Connauton. Salary considerations drove this move for the Avalanche. Soderberg's 49 points last year would have led the Coyotes. While he is not an explosive offensive talent, he is a very solid two-way player, and he improves the second line.
The Coyotes were aggressive at the draft, trading up three spots in the first round to get the guy they wanted. That was Swedish defenseman Victor Soderstrom, who was the top-rated European defenseman. He is under contract for another year in Sweden, but the team wouldn't have grabbed him like they did - at the cost of a second-round pick to move up three spots - if they weren't high on him.
Arizona Coyotes NHL Outlook
There is a lot to like about this team. Darcy Kuemper was excellent in net last year, and Antti Raanta, who was hurt and played only 12 games last year, is healthy to start this year. That has the making of a solid pairing. The defense isn't necessarily explosive, and there is some age in the middle pairing, but it is solid. If they can match last year's performance, then they are more than adequate defensively. And the offense should be solidly improved if they can stay healthy and if the two new additions fit in nicely. Add it all up, and you have a team poised to improve. I still don't think they are in the realm of serious contenders. But they could be much more of a playoff threat than we are used to seeing them be. The Pacific Division is a pretty good place to be , as only Vegas, San Jose and Calgary seem to be seriously in the playoff mix in the division. If Arizona is strong and one of those teams struggle - with San Jose probably the most likely - then the Coyotes could make something happen. It's an exciting time for Arizona - at least relative to the last several years.
Arizona Coyotes Schedule
What stands out when you look at this schedule is the balance relative to other teams in the league. They have only one five-game homestand and nothing longer than that. And their longest road trip is just four games - which they have three different times. Many teams will be facing tougher schedules and more rigorous travel - especially in their division. That could be a big edge for this squad.
Arizona Coyotes NHL Futures Odds
The Coyotes are one of four teams tied at +2500 to win the Stanley Cup, which ties them as the 16th choice. They are tied with Chicago and Minnesota as the ninth choice to win the Western Conference at +1600 and are the fourth choice to win the Pacific Division at +550. The season point total sits at 88.5 , with both the over and the under at -110. They are at -110 to make the playoffs and at the same price to miss them.
2019-20 Arizona Coyotes Predictions
The more I think about the Kessel deal, the more I like it. I can't think of too many guys who could fit the team and their needs better. The offense should be better. The back end is solid. What the heck, I'll say it - this is a playoff team. It's tough because all eight playoff teams from last year are very legitimate and in the mix again, so it's hard to see which spot they take. But things happen, and Arizona is by far the easiest team to like of the ones that missed the postseason last year. It's not even close.
Get $60 worth of member's NHL picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top hockey handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free ! Also, for a limited time get three hockey handicappers for the price of one! Click here for our 3-for-1 NHL picks offer . Also, get free NHL picks every day on Doc's Sports NHL predictions page.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of Tonight's Free NHL Picks.
Get all of Tonight's Expert Expert NHL Picks.