It is common knowledge that the 2021-22 Arizona Coyotes are in the midst of a massive rebuild. Their fortunes this season are that of epic mediocrity. Through 29 games for the 2021-22 season, they have accumulated a mere 14 points with a 6-21-2 record. That is a points winning percentage of just .190. With that in mind, their final projected points output will be just 34 points. A possible season-ending record could be like 16-64-2. Their worst franchise record for a full season was back in the 2014-15 season when they had a 24-50-8 record for 58 points. That points winning percentage came to .341.
2021-22 Arizona Coyotes Rebuild is Going Strong And it Shows
General manager Bill Armstrong came into his new job with a master plan. We are all beginning to view exactly what he had in mind. As the Coyotes seemed to struggle over the years, Armstrong recognized that the talent on the ice was acquired most from trades and free agency. His philosophy… and rightly so, was to build the team’s success by acquiring draft picks and building from their roots. And, he is doing just that. At the present time, he has three first-round 2022 draft picks and five second-rounders. That is a great start to his rebuilding process.
It hasn’t been easy for loyal fans to see favourite players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Darcy Kuemper, Christian Dvorak, and Adin Hill all be dealt with the future in mind. As painful as it is, Armstrong’s plan is falling into place. Of course, he has his eye (as do other teams) on the prize of the 2022 draft. Shane Wright has been described as a “generational player” in the mould of Connor McDavid, John Tavares, or Auston Matthews. Wright is said to be as competitive a human being placed on this planet, and he hates to lose. Funny, because that is exactly what the hapless Coyotes need in their lineup. A winner… in every sense of the word.
Armstrong May Not be Done Cleaning House
As has been rumoured lately, even Jakob Chychrun who was thought of as an “untouchable” on the 2021-22 Arizona Coyotes roster, may be on the move. No less than 20 NHL teams seem to have some level of interest in his services. The thing is, it will cost at least four pieces to add the talented defenseman to a new team. The word is that it may take a first-rounder, second-rounder, a prospect and another piece to convince Armstrong to deal Chychrun.
Then, of course, there are just three forwards (Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Andrew Ladd) who are signed beyond this season. On defence, there are just four players (Shayne Gostisbehere, Chychrun, Conor Timmins, and Janis Moser) signed beyond 2021-22. Timmins had a season-ending injury while Moser has played just two NHL games thus far.`
Some Will Stay, Some Will Not
With that much flexibility on the roster, Armstrong can manipulate what exactly he sees as a collection of players going forward who can win. As in at least making the playoffs, as a starting point. The team did qualify (well, sorta) for the 2019-20 playoffs which had allowed 24 teams to qualify due to the season cut short by COVID-19. It was the first appearance in the postseason for the Arizona club since the 2011-12 season.
Players like Chychrun, Keller, Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse, were imagined to be the circle of players to build upon in the rebuild. That may change as exemplified by the team accepting offers to trade Chychrun. With Keller’s much-improved play this season, he too could be dealt. Keep in mind, his unmanageable contract of $7.15 million through the 2027-28 campaign. His offensive numbers are flattering with nine goals and 13 assists in 29 games. That 0.76 points per game could influence teams hunting for the playoffs to attempt to acquire the forward.
Schmaltz has not turned in a decent season with all of his injuries to judge if he can perform and be part of the rebuild. Crouse has stepped up his production this season with six goals, five assists in 28 games. Last season he only managed four goals, nine assists in 51 games.
Rebuilds Are Painful
To ask loyal fans to be patient, that things will get better in Arizona is like saying it’s cool and refreshing here in the summer. Fans expect results and pay their hard-earned money to support the team. There are multiple challenges for the Coyotes going forward. Without a place to play next season, that must be addressed sooner rather than later.
Embarrassing financial issues didn’t help the fanbase to be encouraged. They thought they finally had a responsible owner to carry the team into a new east valley arena eventually. Getting a good team on the ice may be a task that Armstrong is skilled in doing, but the other distractions certainly don’t help.
With any luck (and it takes tons) the Coyotes will obtain the services of Shane Wright and other talented young prospects who will carry the team into respectability.
Thus far, that hasn’t happened.
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