Arizona Coyotes

Quick Look Inside The Arizona Coyotes’ Farm System

I’ve maintained for some time that the Arizona Coyotes have one of, if not the deepest farm systems in the league.

With so much young talent being developed, which player within the organization is most likely to have a break-out season next year? Which minor leaguer will crack the NHL this season, becoming a regular? I’ve narrowed it down to a few players that are likely to do it.

Kyle Capobianco

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I’ll start off with the least likely, at least in terms of highly talented players in the organization. Reason being, Capobianco suffered a season ending lower body injury after 2 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season.

Before his call up, Capobianco was a top 4 defenseman for the Tucson Roadrunners. In 40 games last season, he recorded 7 goals, 25 assists and 32 points. Nearly a point per game. Definitely on track to translate into a 40 point player at the NHL level.

He’s not an offensive defenseman per say. He’s more of a two way defender. The top 4 defenseman recorded a +9 in 2017-2018 and a +10 in 2018-2019 for the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL. Showing true versatility as a player. He’s  able to quarterback a power play and shut down opposing offenses.

If he recovers properly from his injury, he should still be in a position to make a run for the NHL roster. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait and see how everything goes during training camp.

Michael Bunting

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Michael Bunting is another kid I think has a shot to crack the NHL roster this season. The 23 year-old winger had a brief 5 game stint last season, after all of the injuries. He scored 1 goal and played a good two-way game in that short stint.

While in Tucson, Bunting was part of the top 6. He spent a lot of his time playing alongside line-mate Hudson Fasching. Bunting played in 52 games and scored 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points. He was approaching a point per game production at the AHL level.

After his display last season in Tuscon, I think he’s ready to move up to the NHL this year.

Adin Hill

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This one has a lot to do with my speculation that Arizona moves away from the Antti Raanta contract this offseason. Regardless of what happens there, for a stretch last season, Hill stepped up big time and got key wins for Arizona. In 13 games, Hill posted a record of 7-5-0, a 2.76 GAA and a .901 save percentage.

I noticed a lot of flaws in his game, that I don’t necessarily feel he’s been correcting in Tucson. Those being primarily letting in too many easy goals, and flopping around in the net. Hill needs to have more polished butterfly positioning for him to be effective long-term. If he addressed those issues, he should be a decent back-up goalie next year.

Robbie Russo

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Russo is the best on this list, and is the most likely to break out. Being acquired from the Red Wings over the summer of 2018 in exchange for a 7th round pick, Russo was a huge steal. Russo played in 67 games for the Tucson Roadrunners, scoring 6 goals and 33 assists. He managed to tie his career high in points at the AHL level with 39 points. Needless to say, Russo has the scoring touch. He’s scored 30+ points in all 4 of his AHL seasons. With this consistency, I have full confidence to say that he is a talented offensive defense man.

He’s also a talented defender.  In 19 games for the Detroit Red Wings, Russo has maintained a +2, and tallied 13 blocks. At the AHL level, in 263 games, Russo has maintained a ridiculous +73.  Add in the fact, that he took on more of a leadership role as an alternate captain for the Roadrunners, and they remained in the playoff hunt until the final game of the season. There is just a lot of upside with this guy.

Russo is 26 years-old. If he’s going to break into the league, this is his chance.

stats from theAHL.com, eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Arizona Coyotes Acquire Kessel

The Arizona Coyotes, on Saturday night, acquired Phil Kessel, Dane Birks, and a 4th round pick, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre Olivier Joseph. 

I’ll set a scene for you. Imagine you’re excited to watch an indoor football playoff game. You’re at a bar having a couple of drinks, and your friend won’t stop blowing your phone telling you the player you’ve wanted your team to trade for was acquired by them. You immediately don’t believe them, primarily because you know your small market team would never acquire elite talent that would put them at the cap ceiling. Then find out the cost was one of your favorite players in the team. One more drink was required to come to terms with everything.

It’s happened. The thing I wanted most this offseason actually happened. I actually feel foolish that my first reaction was “not Galchenyuk.” Like a spoiled Lakers fan over Lonzo Ball when we just acquired top tier talent for him. Galchenyuk and Pierre-Oliver Joseph have been sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Cheeseburger Phil, a 4th round pick, and Dane Birks.

Cheeseburger Phil Kessel is now an Arizona Coyote, and it’s a dream come true. Our leading scorer last season was Keller with 47 points. Kessel last year scored 82. (Per NHL.com)

What Arizona desperately needed was goal scoring, and this year they added a 30 goal scorer. I was on record last season saying that Galchenyuk wasn’t a 30 goal scorer considering how he hadn’t hit that mark in two seasons. With him only scoring 19 last season, it’s safe to admit what I said a year ago. That season was a career year and not the example of his consistent talent.

Kessel has had 5 seasons of 30+ production, and 11 consecutive seasons of 20+. Kessel is legit the answer to Arizona’s scoring woes.

Add in the fact that Kessel hasn’t missed a game in 9 seasons. (per ESPN) Arizona is sure adding guys who stay healthy after last seasons horrible misfortunes.

As of right now, the Coyotes top line is Keller-Schmaltz-Kessel. Not only did Keller play his best hockey with Schmaltz last season, but you add a multiple time Stanley cup champion, and elite goal scorer to that line, and Keller has just been handed the keys to not only a bounce back season. He’s been handed the keys to a career year two days before free agency.

Factoring in the acquisition of Soderberg (another 20 goal scorer) and the rumors of possibly more moves to come, Arizona is a legitimate playoff contender. I am fully comfortable saying that this team has gotten tremendously better over just the last couple of weeks.

I’m going to miss Galchenyuk. I loved his overall game and he paired very well with my favorite player, Conor Garland.

As for Joseph, I’ve been following him the last two Coyotes rookie camps, and moving on from his services was a great idea. Last year, he was easily the best at the camp, but this year he was far from it. I noticed that he was a lot slower than the season prior. It legitimately looked like he was nursing an injury. He wasn’t skating well in the corner, his transitions were sloppy, and his passing seemed to be weaker. The only upside he still had in my eyes was his shot. He has Keith Yandle‘s shot, easily. Unfortunately, like Yandle, he’s a defenseman and not a winger. I expect defensive ability with the potential upside of providing scoring depth.

The cherry on top of the deal was the 4th round pick as a “free asset” and Birks to replace Joseph on the depth chart. Chayka made an amazing trade and has made Arizona a playoff team. 

I should mention that Kessel is 31 with 3 years left on his contract with a cap hit of $6.8M (per capfriendly) , but he’s yet to show an signs of aging to date. If he does start to regress, he’s still likely to be a 60 point player, so this is still a huge net positive.

Chayka played pot of greed bois, and +1s are usually banned in Yu-Gi-Oh!

 

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes: Adding Some Centre Depth

With all of the free agency rumors surrounding the Arizona Coyotes, this move took me by surprise.

The Arizona Coyotes have traded away 7th defenseman Kevin Connauton and a 3rd round draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche for veteran forward Carl Soderberg.

Connauton

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Connauton is coming off of a disappointing season. He only played in 50 games, and scored 1 goal, 7 assists, a fenwick-for percentage of 46.1 and a corsi-for percentage of 46.6. His numbers are down from the 11 goals and 10 assists that he managed to put up during the previous season. His performance during the 2017-18 regular season helped him land a 2-year contract extension.

Personally, I’m not surprised about the lack of offensive production. Connauton had a career year, and was never an offensive defenseman. He’s a physical bottom pairing guy. He’s good for what he offers, but he won’t consistently produce well in the offensive zone. Plus, the Coyotes don’t feel like they want have Connauton locked into a full-time spot. In addition, the Coyotes have a few prospects like Robbie Russo, Kyle Capobianco, and Dakota Mermis, who clawing for a main roster spot. Also, Ilya Lyubshkin was playing essentially the same role as Connauton and he’s younger. Lyubshkin’s presence in Arizona made Connauton expendable.

Soderberg

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He’s 33 going on 34, has only missed 7 games in the last 5 seasons, has one year left on his contract with a $4.75 cap hit and is a 20 goal scorer. There is literally no downside to acquiring him. If he regresses badly this season, you only have to wait until the end of the season for him to be off the books. On the other hand, if he plays consistently, he’d be a great fit on the second line. If Soderberg proves that he can be consistent in his production, it’ll be seen as a great move for John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes.

Replacing Stepan?

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As for that second line center role, that’s where this gets interesting. The current second like center is Derek Stepan. Stepan is a good player coming off of a season where he only scored 15 goals, and you can’t blame that solely on the injury he suffered. The previous season, he only scored 14 goals while playing all 82 games. Unlike last season, Stepan made up for his sub-20 goal season by recording 42 assists and 56 points. A season drop from 56 points to 35 while only playing in 10 less games shows that Stepan isn’t worth his $6m cap hit.

By acquiring a new second line center on an expiring contract, that opens the door to trade away Stepan, freeing up $6m in salary. If Stepan gets moved, it’ll give Arizona $8m to work with in free agency.

While I’m a fan of Stepan, I also like the idea of being able to get a 20 goal scorer to replace him and the ability to move Stepan in an effort to free up cap space.

Good Move?

Time will tell if this move was a successful one, but on paper it’s another great move by Coyotes general manager John Chayka, and puts Arizona in a very good position. Even though the additional cap right now doesn’t make it look that way.

research from capfriendly.com

stats from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

2019 NHL Draft: Winners and Losers from Round 1

There are always teams that are perceived winners and losers on day one of the draft. No one will know who is truly and winner or loser for five years but we take a shot at picking out who made good choices and bad choices during day one.

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Winners

Colorado Avalanche (Winner of the Day)

The big winners of the day were the Colorado Avalanche. The team who absolutely robbed the Ottawa Senators in the Matt Duchene trade in November of 2017. In that trade they received a first round pick in either 2018 or 2019. When the Senators selected Brady Tkachuk last year, their 2019 first round pick went to the Avalanche. Despite finishing last in the league, the Senators lucked out and didn’t give up a top-three pick but ended up sending the fourth overall pick to Colorado.

With that pick, the Avalanche selected the clear-cut top defender in the draft, Bowen Byram. Clearly going for best player available, they continue to stack their blue line prospect pipeline. Adding the dynamic, potential number-one defender to the group that already includes Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Conor Timmins. The Avalanche blue line has the potential to be akin to the peak years of the Nashville Predators group.

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The moment that they truly jumped into winner category was when they selected high-skill center Alex Newhook. The speedy pivot was an absolute beast in the BCHL. Ranked as a top-ten prospect by many outlets and talent evaluators, Newhook’s fall to 16 in the draft was a minor shock. Colorado took advantage and solidified both their defensive core and added a future star in Newhook who slots in perfectly behind Nathan MacKinnon.

Montréal Canadiens

If it weren’t for the Avalanche arguably nabbing two top-seven prospects, the Montréal Canadiens would be the big winners. Cole Caufield‘s diminutive stature led to his fall from the top-10 down to Montréal at 15. This is a kid who can score goals. He may be just 5’7″ but he scored 72 goals last year in just 64 games, he possesses the best shot in the draft. After a year or two at the University of Wisconsin, Caufield is likely to light then league on fire with legitimate 40+ goal potential. The Canadiens stole the best goal scorer in the draft with the 15th pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

The team that couldn’t seem to make a good move in the week leading up to the draft, they made the only move at the draft. Trading back with the Arizona Coyotes, the Flyers gave up the 11th pick to move down to 14 and also acquire the 45th overall pick as well. This allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to select the defender that that wanted, USNTDP left-handed defenceman Cam York, as well as recouping an asset. The Coyotes selected the ultra-safe Victor Söderström with the 11th pick. The difference between York and Söderström isn’t so vast that trading up was necessary but the Flyers are the benefactors of the Coyotes eagerness to move up.

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Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights we’re gifted a potential number one center at 17 with the selection of Peyton Krebs. The Winnipeg ICE center is a competitor and a high skilled guy. He led a talent-poor ICE team last season and was ranked all over the top-10. Falling out of that grouping because he partially tore his Achilles’ tendon, the young center wasn’t expected to play in the NHL next season so allowing their medical staff to help through the recovery will help the 17th overall pick.

Losers

Chicago Blackhawks (Loser of the Day)

The draft started at pick number three. The Chicago Blackhawks has the choice between a future number one defender in Bowen Byram and a potential stud In the mold of Patrice Bergeron by selecting Alex Turcotte. Their selection of Kirby Dach was a head scratcher. Although he has a high ceiling, Dach has a few warts in his game. The primary wart is the fact that he plays the game at a very slow pace. He’s methodical with his pace of the game and tends to slow things down. The way Dach does this may not translate to the NHL game of speed.

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Dach has the tools to be a top-line player, whether it’s at center or possibly on the wing, and he possesses good size. His dynamic offensive upside may be equal or slighter greater than Turcotte but the floor is vastly lower. Turcotte could have been a number one pick in a different draft and passing on that could be a cause for concern for the Blackhawks.

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson has a bomb from the point. You don’t take a defender this high because his shot is elite. The rest of his game, particularly in the defensive zone, needs a ton of work. His offensive skill set is good and he is able to make a good first pass but at the 19th pick they had numerous blue liners with much more well rounded and transferable games. Another factor that goes into the Ottawa Senators being a loser here is the fact that they gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) in the Duchene trade. It was almost a certainty that they’d land here in the loser column.

Detroit Red Wings

As the president of the Moritz Seider Fan club, this hurts. Seider is an excellent defender who showed offensive skill prior to his draft year. This year he played with Mannhiem in the DEL (top German men’s league) and was asked to focus on his defensive game. He did that and excelled. He grew throughout the year, going from playing 6-9 minutes a night at the beginning of the year to playing top-pair minutes in the playoffs where Mannheim won the league title. Seider could be an outstanding defenceman in the future and the selection of him is a win for the Detroit Red Wings but taking him at 6 was a bit of a reach. Rumour has it that they almost traded down but were tipped off that other teams in the top-10 were considering Seider as well so Steve Yzerman just went and got the player he wanted.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Calling the Tampa Bay Lightning losers is basically setting myself up for failure, I’m not the Columbus Blue Jackets after all. Their selection of Nolan Foote caused a bit of an uproar amongst Lightning fans. They wanted a goal scorer and they chose a guy who wasn’t even among the top-three available. With Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink and Raphael Lavoie both still sitting on the board, Foote was a player that felt like a reach. He has a few flaws outside of his goal scoring but so does Kaliyev. Kaliyev was just a better goal scorer. It’s a shock that the Lightning took an extremely flawed goal scorer with Kaliyev available and not make the choice to select the young Hamilton Bulldog winger. Foote has the capability of being a good goal scorer but it could end up much like the OHL scoring race where he is behind Kaliyev for years to come.

Day Two, Lets Go!

While there are many winners and losers when we instantly react on day one, day two should have a boat load of talent available.

The fact that day two of the draft will feature some round one talent isn’t new. It happens every year. This year feels like there is more than normal. The forward group above is outstanding and any of them could have gone in the first round without batting an eye. The teams at the top of the second round will get some excellent talent and be the beneficiaries of some of the questionable choices of the teams in the later half of the first round. You can go back and look at the reactions of some of the team at Puck77 here on our day one live blog. Day two is upon us and we are bound to have some fun! Follow along on the day two live blog and enjoy the draft!

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Evaluating The Trade Between The Arizona Coyotes And Philadelphia Flyers

On the draft floor Friday night, the Arizona Coyotes chose to move up for their first round selection. The Philadelphia Flyers traded the 11th overall selection to the Arizona Coyotes for the 14th overall selection and the 45th overall selection.

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes moved up to 11th overall to select Swedish defensemen Victor Söderström. Considered to be a mobile two-way defender, Söderström will help compliment a defence core that includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, with young prospects such as Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Filip Westerlund that are already knocking at the door. Having been compared to stars like Duncan Keith and Jaccob Slavin, Söderström could prove to be a steal and that seems to be what the Coyotes are thinking. Puck77’s own Niels Nielsen had Söderström ranked 8th overall as recently as April. Many hockey insiders such as Bob McKenzie and Cam Robinson had him around 14th overall in their final rankings. It is possible Söderström would have slipped to the Coyotes with the 14th overall pick, but that appears to be a risk that John Chayka and the Coyotes were unwilling to take.

Philadelphia Flyers

With the 14th selection, the Philadelphia Flyers opted to select defensemen Cameron York. From Anaheim, California, York is a smaller defensemen that plays a steady game. Compared to Mark Giordano and Zach Werenski, York adds to a young defence core in Philadelphia that already includes the likes of Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Travis Sanheim. This pick seems to be roughly where York was expected to go. York was the 12th ranked North American skater coming in. York ranked 18th in Bob McKenzie’s final rankings, and Sportsnet’s Sam Costentino had him going 18th in his mock draft.

Smart Idea To Trade Up?

Ultimately, these two teams perhaps jumped on these players a few picks earlier than they were expected to go, but that is what allowed this trade to happen. Both Coyotes’ general manager John Chayka and Flyers’ general manager Chuck Fletcher knew they had their guys, and it was probably a smart idea for both guys to ensure they got the players they wanted.

Of course, the full ramifications of the trade won’t be apparent for years to come. We won’t even know for sure who the Flyers select with the other pick they acquired until Saturday afternoon.

But, there have been plenty of deals over the years of teams trading up to acquire a player that work out in interesting ways. In 2011, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded up to 22nd overall (selected Tyler Biggs). In exchange, the Anaheim Ducks acquired the 30th overall pick (selected Rickard Rakell) and 39th overall (selected John Gibson). Clearly a fortuitous move for the Anaheim Ducks in hindsight. In 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired the 20th overall pick (selected Nick Schmaltz) and the 179th overall pick (selected Ivan Nalimov) from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the 27th overall pick (selected Nikolay Goldobin) and the 62nd overall pick which was later traded to Nashville.

These draft floor trades seem like small decisions at the time, but ultimately can provide a big impact for these teams moving forward.

player profiles – hockey-reference.com