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Season preview: Arizona Coyotes


Season preview: Arizona Coyotes

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Arizona Coyotes

2014-15 record: 24-50-8, 7th in the Pacific

How they finished: Did not make the playoffs

Coach: Dave Tippett (7th season)

Notable additions: D Nicklas Grossmann, C Boyd Gordon, RW Steve Downie, G Anders Lindback, D Zbynek Michalek, RW Brad Richardson, LW John Scott, C Antoine Vermette (sort of, was traded from Arizona to Chicago mid-season and signed back with Arizona)

Notable subtractions: C Sam Gagner, LW Lauri Korpikoski, RW Martin Erat (don't laugh, he still had 32 points last season on a team that struggled to generate offense), RW David Moss

RELATED: Caps get a good deal with Johansson contract

Schedule against the Capitals: Mon. Feb. 22 at Washington, Sat. April 2 at Arizona

Outlook: The Coyotes experienced a horrific season last year, but were denied the light at the end of the tunnel that was either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Despite finishing with the second worst record in the league, they fell to third in the draft after Edmonton won the draft lottery. The Coyotes drafted Dylan Strome and while he certainly has NHL potential, he is not the transformational talent that McDavid and Eichel are. In fact, there's a very good chance that Strome will start the season in the OHL.

So even after a terrible season last year, the Coyotes will head into the fall with nothing to show for it in the short term.

It also doesn't help that the team's offseason has been spent dealing with a lease dispute with the city of Glendale. While the matter appears to be settled for the time being, a two-year agreement does little to instill confidence in any potential free agents.

Arizona's leading scorer last season in both goals and points was Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a 24-year-old defenseman. Ekman-Larsson is an outstanding player who has a long NHL career in front of him, but when your leading scorer is a young defenseman, that's not a recipe for success. Even worse is the fact that the team's second and third leading scorers, Sam Gagner and Keith Yandle, are both gone. Shane Doan is still there and while he will remain a team leader, but at 38-years-old, there's little you can expect from him in terms of production.

The good news is that the Coyotes have some young offensive talent in their system.

Max Domi is the real deal and fans were already getting excited about him last season thanks to plays like this. Because of Arizona's serious lack of offensive depth, Domi looks like a lock for the NHL roster this season. It also would not be surprising to see Anthony Duclair and Brendan Perlini make their NHL debuts this fall as well.

Relying on three players who are not yet old enough to drink to lead the offense may not be the best idea, but this season will not be about winning games so much as getting their young talent NHL experience.

Defensively the team is not starting from scratch. Ekmann-Larsson is turning into a star and Michael Stone looks like he can be a solid top-four, possibly top pair defenseman. The pickup of Nicklas Grossman also adds some veteran leadership. Mike Smith has got to play better in net than he did last season, but there is some definite potential on the blue line.

Expectations: The only thing the Coyotes are going to contend for next season is another high draft pick. The 2015-16 season is not about winning for Arizona, it's about developing the young talent they have accumulated and beginning to build around it.

MORE CAPS: Arbitrator hands down ruling for Marcus Johansson

See more team previews:

Pacific Division
Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames 8/3 
Edmonton Oilers 8/4 
Los Angeles Kings 8/5 
San Jose Sharks 8/6 
Vancouver Canucks 8/7

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks 8/8 
Colorado Avalanche 8/9 
Dallas Stars 8/10 
Minnesota Wild 8/11
St. Louis Blues 8/13 
Winnipeg Jets 8/14

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins 8/15 
Buffalo Sabres 8/16 
Detroit Red Wings 8/17 
Florida Panthers 8/18 
Montreal Canadiens 8/19 
Ottawa Senators 8/20< 
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21 
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?


NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.


Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!