The Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 season came to an end at Gila River Arena in what looked to be a long night for fans as they fell behind early… yet still won.
It was ironic that the last game at Gila River was against the Nashville Predators… just as it was for the first game in the arena in 2003. The times at first didn’t seem to change a thing. The Preds were dominating and ran up four goals in less than seven minutes. Starting goalie Karel Vejmelka was expeditiously yanked. And as it turned out that was the best decision head coach André Tourigny made all night. Harri Sateri came to the rescue and didn’t allow a goal in the Coyotes’ amazing 5-4 comeback victory. It was the Coyotes’ third consecutive win after dropping 10 straight, including two overtime losses. Such is life in a rebuild.
Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 Season Defined What a Rebuild is All About
While the term ‘tanking’ is overused by most, the Coyotes certainly seemed to define that word for most of the season. They had numerous injuries which decimated their roster. Losing players like Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Fischer, Conor Timmins, and newly acquired Nick Ritchie didn’t help their cause. But, there were other factors involved here that made this such a painful rebuilding season. General manager Bill Armstrong knew he had to rebuild this team from the draft up. He is doing exactly that.
With three first-round selections, along with four second-rounders, the chances that the Yotes will draft some talented players is the best it’s ever been. While the team’s draft lottery luck is nothing short of horrible, they finished 31st and according to tankathon.com, they have a 13.5 percent chance of landing the first overall selection. Or, to put it in more exact terms, a chance to add Shane Wright to their roster. In this writer’s 10 attempts at using the simulator the Desert Dogs came up second three times, third five times, and fourth twice. See what I mean? Even with the second-best odds to land the first pick, there are no guarantees.
Draft Picks Can Really Help This Team
Young players can really rejuvenate a team’s fortunes. Just look at how well Nathan Smith and Jack McBain have come in to contribute. Smith had two goals, two assists in the 10 games he played averaging 14:09 of ice time. He added 26 hits and seems like he will be a good addition to the Coyotes future. McBain added two goals, one assist in his 10 games and threw around his large frame with 33 hits. His physical presence certainly helps the Coyotes be a more respected team.
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When looking at the mock draft from the same site, the Coyotes were projected to draft Juraj Slafkovsky from Slovakia. Get this. He is 6′-4″, 218 pounds and he just turned 18 years old a month ago! That is an NHL-size body and goes in line with Armstrong’s philosophy of making this team hard to play against. With bodies like Crouse, McBain, Liam O’Brien, and Nick Ritchie on the roster, no team will be able to push the smaller Coyotes forwards around any longer.
Not being able to land Wright may be a disappointment (and there is still the possibility they can land him), but Slafkovsky would most assuredly be a player they can move forward with and develop into an excellent NHL player. And if that doesn’t work out another terrific center by the name of Matthew Savoie will be out there to draft. He is projected at the #5 selection and has some pretty impressive numbers. He is tearing up the WHL with 35 goals and 55 assists in 65 games.
Besides the Draft, Open Roster Spots Must be Filled
Now, the Coyotes will have cap space galore, as they don’t intend on signing all of their pending free agents. That will leave more decisions for Armstrong to make as he molds this team into a winner. He’s doing it the right way, and the results may take time, but be patient… it will happen.
NHL Draft Lottery is May 10th
Most Coyotes fans will be crossing their fingers and all other digits to see if the luck of the lottery will change in their favor. Shane Wright would be an amazing player for any NHL team. The Coyotes’ luck (or lack thereof) may change this time around. In any case, Armstrong and his scouting team will have plenty of opportunity to improve the team through the draft. Will Wright be headed to the desert? Or will the big guy from Slovakia be the one chosen?
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