After finished second last in the NHL in 2014-15 and getting jumped in the Connor McDavid – Jack Eichel sweepstakes by the Oilers, the Arizona Coyotes surprisingly stayed in the playoff race for the majority of last season.  While they ended up dropping off quite a bit at the end of the season, there are plenty of bright spots for the organization going forward.  On top of the young talent that was already on the roster, there are some new Desert Dogs ready to make their NHL debut.  While I don’t see them contending for the playoffs this time around, the future is incredibly bright with plenty of fantasy assets.  Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:

GOALTENDING

This situation is still quite a mess.  Mike Smith is the number one again after injuries limited him to 32 games.  His save percentage was .916, his best in 5 years, but the goals against average was an ugly 2.64.  Smith has a history of getting incredibly hot for a couple weeks only to crash and burn for a couple weeks after.  The consistency isn’t there at all so I’m not looking to draft him in 12’ers.  I don’t think he’ll be on waivers but if he is, look to see if he’s playing well and then run the hot schmotato until he lays a egg.

Louis Domingue is their backup but there’s a chance he takes over the job from a slumping Smith.  Domingue played 39 games last season and posted a 2.75 GAA and .912 save percentage.  It’s simply not good enough and should be left on the waiver wire.  I don’t think the Coyotes goaltender of the future is currently in the organization so even in dynasties, I wouldn’t take either of these guys.

DEFENSEMEN

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is clearly the best player on the Coyotes.  He took another step last season with 21 goals and 34 assists in 75 games, including over 3 shots per game, 27 PPP and 96 PIM.  It’s an incredible stat line across the board which makes him a clear #1 defenseman in real life and fantasy.  I have OEL at 32nd overall making him worthy of a third round pick in standard leagues.

His partner will be Michael Stone again who proved himself last season to be worthy in fantasy as well.  Stone finished with 6 goals and 30 assists in 75 games with 62 PIM and just over 2 shots per game.  It’s bottom end but with his big minutes, including power play time, Stone should be drafted in 12’ers with a late pick.

The big offseason signing was Alex Goligoski who should slot on the second pair.  The question is whether or not he’s on the first power play unit, with either him or OEL on their off side, or the second power play unit.  Gogo is bottom end for the assists but the goals and shots are going to be poor.  If you are short on assists, he should do fine as your last defenseman but I’ll be looking elsewhere.

If one of these guys were to get injured, then Kevin Connauton should be on your radar.  He had a very nice streak, including 6 points in 6 games when OEL was out, so there’s upside here if he gets the opportunity.  The problem is that he won’t to start the season.

FORWARDS

Pavel Datsyuk is a Coyote!  What a move acquiring him!  It would be funny to see someone get a Datsyuk Coyotes jersey.  The Coyotes acquired him to reach the salary cap floor; too bad they already knew he was going back to Russia.  It’s amazing that they now have Datsyuk and Chris Pronger on their books.  Anyways, to the players that matter…

Upside, upside, upside.  Almost all of these forwards have the chance to break out in a big way.  The most likely is Max Domi who had a terrific rookie season with 18 goals and 34 assists.  Add in 72 penalty minutes and you have the making of a potential fantasy stud.  Domi is still only 21 years old and should see an increase in minutes as a first liner this year.  If the shots increase like they do for most players in year two, then there’s 25+35 potential for this season already.  I have Domi ranked 86th overall saying he has potential to be a top 50 player and I stand by that.

If he starts to take more shots, Anthony Duclair has tremendous upside.  He finished 20 goals and 24 assists with 49 PIM in his first full season in the NHL.  He shot an absurd 19% which won’t happen again but that can be counterbalanced by simply shooting the puck more.  Now that he has a first line role, I expect everything to uptick across the board.  I have Duclair barely in my Top 150 at 144th for the potential he carries.

Martin Hanzal should center these two young guns.  Hanzal was outstanding last season with 13 goals, 28 assists and 77 PIM in only 64 games.  The problem is that he’s missed significant time in 6 straight seasons.  That history puts him outside of my top 150 but in the later rounds, Hanzal is a great pick to produce top 100 value until he gets injured.  It should be plus across the board with a huge plus in penalty minutes.

Getting screwed in the lottery left the Coyotes with Dylan Strome.  Strome should make his NHL debut this season and I expect him to center the second line due to the lack of alternatives.  While he doesn’t have the massive upside McDavid and Eichel do, Strome will still have a tremendous impact.  I think a 20+30 season is possible as a rookie assuming he gets a top 6 role right away.  With Hanzal’s history, I expect Strome to get some time on the top line as well.  He’s a great late round pick in redrafts and an elite option in dynasties.

A lesser prospect who should debut this season as well, Christian Dvorak has a good chance of cracking the top 6 as well.  His season in London last year was jaw-dropping; in 59 games he scored 52 goals and 69 assists with a +56.  The opposition had no chance of stopping him and while I don’t expect that to happen immediately in the NHL, Dvorak should have an impact.  I’m not drafting him in 12’ers but he’s on my radar already for streaming; he’s my best bet for a player who isn’t drafted that is a fantasy surprise this year.  In dynasties, he’s an under the radar guy who isn’t far off the elite tier of prospects.

Radim Vrbata is back in the Desert after a brief stint in Vancouver.  To call Vrbata a bust last season doesn’t do it justice.  He finished with 13 goals and 14 assists in 63 games while being a whopping -30.  Now, the shots remained terrific and he’s one year off from being a 30+30 guy.  With one of my last picks, I love taking the shot on Vrbata in case things click again.

The third line is headlined by Shane Doan.  The last original Jet in the league, Doan scored 28 goals and 19 assists with a whopping 98 PIM in 72 games last season.  The issue that I have is that Doan shot a career high 16.5%; even including last season he’s a career 10.4% shooter over 20 years.  That number is surely going to drop towards 20 goals or even lower if the shots don’t go up slightly.  If you’re short on PIM, Doan is a nice flier late in drafts hoping that he gets a lot of PP time again.

Jamie McGinn is their forward signing from the offseason after splitting the season in Buffalo and Anaheim.  He played 84 games last season due to the trade and scored 22 goals and 17 assists.  In deep leagues, there’s some value here assuming he stays healthy.  In 12’ers, it’s not quite enough to draft but I’m looking to stream him early in the year to see what his role is.

TOP 5 PROSPECTS

1) Dylan Strome

2) Christian Dvorak

3) Clayton Keller

4) Jakob Chychrun

5) Nick Merkley

That’s all for now guys.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of the Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks.  Be sure to listen to the most recent podcast when you get a chance!  As always, feel free to ask any questions and leave any comments below.  Take care!

  1. Jon A says:
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    Thoughts on this trade for a keeper:

    Gallagher and Tatar for Yakupov, Colin White and Nick Merkely

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Jon A: I strongly prefer the first two guys, don’t think it’s particularly close. Gallagher and Tatar are the best two players now and are likely to remain the best two players.

  2. Veritas says:
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    Good work on the podcast, I’m enjoying it a lot

    I just inherited a keeper league team in a head to head 12 team yahoo league and I need help making my selections. I have no experience with keeper leagues and I must keep 8 players. The categories are G, A, P, +/-, PIM, PPP, SOG, W, GAA, SV%, SHO (7 skater categories/4 goalie categories)

    Teams consist of 2C, 2LW, 2RW, 4D, 2G. There is also 4 Bench slots, 1IR, 2IR+ and NA slot

    Bear in mind that I’ve never played in a keeper league and I really have no clue about how to judge potential talent vs current talent or any kind of strategy, but I was thinking of keeping the following guys. I appreciate any suggestions or tips to be a competitive team in my league.

    Keep:
    John Tavares NYI – C
    Claude Giroux Phi – C
    Kris Letang Pit – D
    John Klingberg Dal – D
    Tyson Barrie Col – D
    Jonathan Quick LA – G
    Jake Allen StL – G
    Tuukka Rask Bos – G

    The rest of the team is:
    Matt Duchene Col – C
    Mats Zuccarello NYR – RW
    Derek Stepan NYR – C
    Mikko Koivu Min – C
    Trevor Daley Pit – D
    Jared Spurgeon Min – D
    Nick Foligno Cls – LW
    Jamie McGinn Ari – LW
    Philipp Grubauer Was – G

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Veritas: Thanks! I responded to your comment on the podcast post so take a look there. As to your question here, this is tough. On one hand, I would definitely take Duchene over Barrie in a vacuum but on the other hand, you can only start 2C which means one of the three would be stuck on the bench when NYI, PHI and COL all play. That’s also a bit strange that you’re counting points as its own category on top of goals and assists. Anyways, I guess I would lean towards the 8 you have. I’d only consider Duchene from the other guys but keeping 3 centers doesn’t make much sense. If you can make trades, I’d look to move Duchene with someone (Rask probably) to get an upgrade. Find someone with weak goalies and aim for one of their best players.

  3. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    14 team dynasty with 10 man farms (players have to be activated this season if they’ve accrued 25 or more games, this only needs to be done at start of year, unless you activate a guy, then he goes over, at which point you can’t put him back down). so we are VERY deep in prospect guys already owned. standard goalie stats, PPP, SHP, hits, blocks, shooting %, GWG added. active roster keep up to 25. rattie (26 games has to be activated, but i apparently also own m.reilly MIN D as minor guy)
    C (start 2) -carter, kadri, horvat, r.o’reilly, zibanejad
    LW (start 2) sharp, jenner, t.ennis, skinner, baertschi
    RW (start 2) senko, eberle, oshie,soshnikov (could be minored), j.hansen, smith-pelly, rattie
    W (start 2)
    F (1)
    D (start 5) – karlsson, gudas, martinez, ellis, orpik, r.murray, dekeyser
    G (start 2) – lehner/quick/rinne
    BN (9).
    5 IR’s
    5 IR +
    minor guys:
    marner, sprong, pulock, matheson, guhle, skjei, n.paul, m.reilly (MIN), montembault, hudon
    so i gotta drop at least 4 of the active guys and/or some minor guys to make any draft picks at all. i’m trying to see if i can view last year’s draft (i joined this in january). the draft is message board and can be any player not owned. i got 7th (was in 13th when i joined it) but don’t know if it’s snake or not yet either. average kept in active slots predraft last year was 22.85 per team. we only draft at most 5 rounds and i have picks at 2.3 (17th overall), 2.8, 3.8, 4.8, 5.8.

    here’s a list of guys that aren’t owned that either are or would be (probably) on your top prospect lists (per team) and may be ahead of at least some of my guys: h.fasching RW, nylander LW, asplund C BUF, sergachev D MTL, matthews, korskov RW, leipsic LW TOR, l.brown C, dahlen C, burgess RW OTT, mcavoy, frederic BOS, ouellet D, nastasiuk, cholowski DET, gusev , howden TB, borgstrom, hawryluk FLA, dubois, zaar,j.anderson CLB, mcleod, bastian, boucher NJ (but he doesn’t slot into minors), aho,bean,gauthier CAR, rubtsov PHI, bellows NYI, shestyorkin, vesey, jensen NYR, sundqvist/jarry/bjorkqvist PIT, johansen, vanecek WAS, laine, dano (no minors) WIN, bigras, grimaldi (no minors either) COL, kunin, michalek MIN, trenin NAS, schmaltz, pokka, mcneill, hartman, motte, debrincat CHI, dunn, j.schmaltz, t.thompson STL, ritchie (no minors), tufte, ully, desrosiers, dickinson DAL, all 5 EDM guys, juolevi, cassels, gaunce VAN, for the last teams you haven’t touched on yet it’d probably be tkachuk (gillies owned) and some others (dube, andersson, kylington), for ANA max jones, steel, larsson (others owned), for LA mersch, zykov (kempe owned), for SJ gambrell (meier/goldobin owned) and roy maybe, mueller.
    using THN’s top 50 you’ve left out walman D STL, and out of this year’s class i would’ve thought fabbro, chychrun and some others might’ve made it.

    ok, whew, that took a while, ok, so that leaves (without knowing much about LA/ANA/CGY/OTT)
    11 number #1’s (assuming tkachuk/brown/matthews)
    6 number 2’s
    12 number 3’s
    and a bunch of 4’s and worse

    1. how many guys should i drop, i’m guessing j.hansen, dekeyser, baerschi, n.paul, doing that i’d be able to draft 2 guys (at picks 17th and 22nd overall). agree with those first?
    2. any more out of the rattie, smith-pelly, r.murray or a minor guy to draft at any of these spots (36th, 50th, 64th)?

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