The Arizona Coyotes are a team in flux. As of April 27th, 2016, the team has still not confirmed where they will play their home games, who their General Manager will be and the majority of last season’s players are free agents. Even though they improved over their pitiful 2014-2015 season, the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The next GM, rumored to be 26 year old analytics guru John Chayka, will have the flexibility to move the team in a new direction this offseason.
One of the main priorities for the new decision maker will be to upgrade a defense and goaltending group that allowed the third most goals of any team in the league. Additionally, they finished third to last in penalty killing. The offense could also use some additional scoring punch as the top scorer on team was Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 55 points.
Pending Free Agents: The list of free agents this summer is incredibly long. The most notable player on the market is Captain Shane Doan. Nearing age 40, the league’s longest tenured captain turned back the clock and led the team with 28 goals. It remains to be seen whether he will want to continue playing, and if the team will want him back.
Outside of Ekman Larsson, the only other defenseman not up for Free Agency is Zbynek Michalek. Also, the team has only one goalie under contract, starter Mike Smith. The team will have to re-sign some of their own free agents, but there could be a potential “house cleaning” as well.
Draft Picks: Since Arizona has two young forwards that will likely make the jump to the pros next season in Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak, there is a good chance the team will select one of the team defenseman with their first pick. Depending on the teams picking in front of them, the Coyotes will likely miss out on top prospect Jacob Chychrun but could still choose from Jake Bean, Mikhail Sergachev or Olli Juolevi.
Free Agent Additions: If Chayka is selected as the new GM, it will be interesting to see if he will bring a “Moneyball” style approach to free agency. While the team should have cap room to land a big free agent or two, he may search for undervalued players to build a more well-rounded squad. There are not a lot of big name defenseman to go after, but Kyle Quincey (Detroit),Luke Schenn (Los Angeles) and Jason Demers (Dallas) may be options. In goal, 24 year old Louis Domingue played relatively well when called on this season and should be re-signed to backup Mike Smith.