As another season winds down to the very end, some teams are preparing to make their push for the Stanley Cup while others are just waiting to pack their bags and head home for the season. For the Arizona Coyotes, this is a situation that has been very familiar for the past 6 seasons as they haven’t playoffs since their dramatic run in 2012 as they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. For a season filled with hype and anticipation that the Yotes would make the playoffs this year, as claimed by General Manager John Chayka, being at the bottom of the standings didn’t seem like a possibility at the start and it appears that the Coyotes still have some work to do in the offseason, but there is still optimism for Coyotes fans.
With the Coyotes most likely drafting the top player in the draft, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the Coyotes have high hopes for another sensational future superstar in the making. Even if the Draft Lottery does not work in their favor, as it always seems to do, the Coyotes are still drafting the top 4th best prospect in the draft, worst case scenario, which would be left winger Filip Zadina (4th ranked prospect).
A few things within the current team right now, the Coyotes need to sign a few players they wish and heavily want to stay, such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Chayka is making Ekman-Larsson his top priority come July 1st when he becomes a free agent. Most fans and telecasters are expecting Chayka to resign goalie Antti Raanta to have him be their starter for seasons to come. Why most people are hypothesizing this is because the Coyotes are the only team to see Raanta as a starter and use him that way and Raanta seems to be very fond of that, so to Raanta it just sounds right.
Another aspect they need to focus on is the future of Max Domi. Domi’s stats have been declining year after year. After an impressive 20-goal rookie year, Max hasn’t made it back to that plateau since the 2015-2016 season. Despite him being an excellent puck carrier, its up to Chayka to either trade him for something better or resign him to a 2-3 year contract and hope he progresses with this group that has been showing so much brightness of the future.
Unlike the trade deadline, the Coyotes need to be aggressive in the offseason once again. Chayka stated after the trade deadline that “the offseason will provide better opportunities.” After an impressive offseason last year, by acquiring Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, the Coyotes are expected to be just as aggressive this offseason.
Another thing the Coyotes have working in their favor, is the vast amount of cap space they have available at $29 million in cap space, including the new increase in space enacted this season. With that $29 million the Coyotes could easily persuade someone to join the team, if the player wants a big contract, and they could obviously afford him. A player the Coyotes would love to land is 26 year-old Evander Kane who recently got traded to the San Jose Sharks. With a 5.25 million dollar cap hit, the Coyotes would easily afford him, the problem that has risen is that Kane has found a new chemistry with his new team, even scoring his first career hat-trick plus another goal to cap off a 4-goal night in Calgary. So this theory is quickly dying.
There are many things John Chayka needs to do, but given his history as a GM, he is sure to pull it all off.
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