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Arizona Coyotes look to bounce back for 2018-2019 season

Arizona Coyotes' Niklas Hjalmrsson (4) upends Anaheim Ducks captain Ben Street (46) after Street's shot against Arizona Coyotes goalie Antti Rant (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz.

AP Photo by Darryl Webb

Arizona Coyotes' Niklas Hjalmrsson (4) upends Anaheim Ducks captain Ben Street (46) after Street's shot against Arizona Coyotes goalie Antti Rant (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz.

Tony Cimato, Staff Writer

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The 102nd season of the NHL begins Wednesday, Oct. 3. The start of the season brings new excitement for all 31 teams. The Arizona Coyotes are no exception, with their horrid 2017 season behind them. The start to their 2017/2018 season could not have been much worse. They started 0-10-1. That’s 0 wins, 10 losses and one overtime loss. After that, it didn’t get much better; they didn’t win their 10th game of the season until game 42 on the schedule. However, they finished the season 19-14-7, showing signs of the hockey team they were built to become.

Prior to the 2017/2018 campaign, the Coyotes acquired 3-time Stanley Cup Champion Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks, and the front office added forward Derek Stepan and Goaltender Anti Raanta from the New York Rangers. All three of those players were expected to be part of the 2017/2018 successes; however, will now be vital to the Coyotes success in 2018/2019.

After the abysmal season they had; June 15, was a date for the Coyotes to remember as the Coyotes traded a fan-favorite. The gritty Max Domi, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, a one-time 30 goal scorer who’s still only 23 years of age. Galchenyuk seemed to have been in the doghouse constantly for the Montreal Canadiens. The former World Juniors star and third overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Level Draft will be another vital component to the Coyotes’ Machine.

On June 22, the Coyotes held the 5th selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Level Draft, and with that selection, they chose Barret Hayton, a product from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League. The pick has some controversy behind it, as many believed Hayton wasn’t the best player available, but due to his position of Center, which is known as a premier position, the Coyotes seemed to draft based upon need compared to drafting the best player on the draft board. But Hayton is the man the Coyotes chose. Along with these new acquisitions, the Coyotes have arguably one of the best defensemen In the NHL. Oliver Ekman-Larson, the Swede, is an exceptional offensive defenseman who is a strong candidate to be named the Captain (which has been vacant since the controversial handling of Shane Doan, the long-time Coyotes Captain).

Ekman-Larson is their lone World-Class player, however the Coyotes do not lack the surplus of young talented forwards, such as 2017-2018 Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) finalist, Clayton Keller, to go along with the likes of Christian Fischer, Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini and hopefully, their former Third Overall Pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Level Draft, Dylan Strome.

AP Photo by Darryl Webb
Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson is introduced before their game with the Anaheim Ducks during a NHL Hockey game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz.

Strome had dominated the Ontario Hockey League while playing with Connor McDavid, one of, if not the best player in the NHL. Strome is far too skilled for the American Hockey League, although he has yet to find his stride in the NHL. Hopefully, Dylan Strome can live up to the hype that was given to him entering the 2015 NHL draft.

On defense, the Coyotes have a strong top 4 in Hjalmarsson, Ekman-Larson, Alex Goligoski and Jakob Chychrun, in no particular order. The bottom two pairing could consist of the veterans Jason Demers and Kevin Connauton or a young unknown player like Robbie Russo, or another possible standout during rookie camp and the Rookie Showcase. The previously acquired Anti Rantaa will be in net, hoping to build off the strong finish

he had toward the end of last season. In the NHL, a team operates through their goaltender, so Raanta must be exceptional this season for the Coyotes to make a deep run.

The Coyotes must use their juvenile speed and skill in order to beat much older and experienced, quality teams. They have to use their young legs and use their inexperience as some type of ignorance to be able to contend with the likes of the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, in their division alone. The Western Conference is the most grueling conference, along with their divisional opponents, the Coyotes will have to get past the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche, among others to make it into the top 8 to secure a birth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Coyotes finally have the roster to compete with these heavyweights, with a good dose of veterans and young, skilled players. The Coyotes have the tools to compete, but will they?

The Coyotes open their season against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 4.

 

 

 

 

 

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Arizona Coyotes look to bounce back for 2018-2019 season