Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the plight of Coyotes fans. Rebuild 3.0 is underway. The arena situation is less than ideal, and it is still unsettled. Big-name players such as Matthew Tkachuk are changing teams without ever glancing Arizona’s way, and other fan bases are gleefully trolling the beleaguered and fiercely loyal, local group with tired, unimaginative and often uninformed tweets and posts.
Twenty-six years into the franchise’s Valley tenure, Coyotes fans deserve better.
The danger in taking that long view, however, is blaming the current ownership and management group for this mess. There have certainly been some early missteps by this group, the interim arena solution is an easy target and the verdict is still out on their overall operation, but on both the arena and prospect fronts, it is hard to argue with this statement: This is the most coherent plan we have seen from this franchise since Richard Burke sold it nearly 22 years ago.
Both Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and Tempe Vice Mayor (now councilmember) Randy Keating told PHNX Sports that they hope to have resolution on the proposed arena and entertainment district by this fall; the end of 2022 at the latest. A critical and long-awaited piece could fall into place soon.
If the arena is approved, it will pair perfectly with general manager Bill Armstrong’s rebuild model. Armstrong has been honest about the timeframe for that rebuild, and the need to acquire a glut of draft assets to stock the pipeline and increase the Coyotes’ chances of success through sheer volume of picks.
If it all works out, the Coyotes could be hitting their stride as they move into their new digs after years of penny pinching.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at the draft assets that Armstrong has already acquired (he’s not finished) over the next four drafts, following a 2022 NHL Draft in which the Coyotes made five picks among the first 43. We don’t know yet what sorts of fruits it will bear, but this is the type of planning that the Coyotes have needed for two decades.
Arizona already owns a whopping 22 picks combined in the first three rounds of the next four drafts.
2023 First round: One lottery pick Second round: One Third round: Four Fourth round: One Fifth round: One Sixth round: One Seventh round: None
2024 First round: Likely one lottery pick Second round: Three Third round: Three Fourth round: Two Fifth round: One Sixth round: One Seventh round: Two
2025 First round: One Second round: Three Third round: One Fourth round: One Fifth round: One Sixth round: One Seventh round: One
2026 First round: One Second round: Two Third round: One Fourth round: One Fifth round: One Sixth round: One Seventh round: One
Those are not the only assets that the Coyotes could parlay for futures, however. They also have players whom Armstrong could flip for draft picks or prospects during the season, or at the 2023 or 2024 trade deadlines. Who could be moved?
DJakob Chychrun: I expect Chychrun to start the season with the Coyotes but if he plays well and if he still wants to leave, he is Arizona’s most valuable trade asset: a top-three defenseman on a team-friendly contract for three more seasons. D Shayne Gostisbehere: Gostisbehere is entering the final season of his contract. He had a renaissance season under coach André Tourigny, amassing goal (13), assist (37) and point (51) totals that were the second highest of his career, while averaging a career-high 22:11 of ice time and running the power play. If he can replicate or approximate that season again this year, he will be a valuable commodity at the deadline. F Nick Ritchie: Ritchie had 10 goals in 24 games for the Coyotes after coming over from Toronto. He is also entering the final year of his contract. A big, physical power forward who can score would be another valuable commodity at the deadline. Ritchie will have to prove it over an entire season. C Nick Bjugstad: If he can recapture his game to some extent, Bjugstad could be a depth addition for a playoff team at the deadline. He is only signed for this season. D Zack Kassian: Kassian is signed for two seasons so this is more likely a depth move at the 2024 trade deadline, if it happens at all. D Troy Stecher: Stecher could be a depth addition for a playoff team at the deadline. He is only signed for this season.
Let’s get to your questions in the July edition of the monthly mailbag. You had a lot of them.
I think the Coyotes were trying to get another goalie earlier this summer and I think they still will try to acquire another one before training camp or the season begin. As those two deadlines approach and goalies find themselves out of work, there could be bargains available in the market. The Coyotes could also wait to see which goalies are waived before the season. That approach worked pretty well with Scott Wedgewood early last season.
I expect Ivan Prosvetov to play in Tucson this season. He did not have a good 2020-21 season and he is entering the final season of his contract. It’s a very important season for his future.
Nothing has been announced, but I expect Shane Doan to take a step back from the organization yet still be around and involved in various capacities next season. How much could depend on how much else he has going on.
I have not asked about the goal horn, but I doubt it was of great importance.
I don’t think Armstrong is finished acquiring players. The Coyotes have 43 of 50 potential contracts filled. There is room to fill out Tucson, to take on another goalie, and maybe to take on another bloated contract or two from cap-strapped teams. Armstrong will be patient. Camp and the looming deadline of opening-night rosters could create more opportunities.
I have wondered the same thing. Much will depend on what the Blackhawks are able to do with Patrick Kane and, to a lesser extend, Jonathan Toews. The Hawks will be bad. If they move both of those players, they could be historically bad.
Can you imagine the uproar if a (not so) Original Six team with the Kyle Beach scandal fresh in everyone’s memory wins the lottery and the right to draft Connor Bedard? Kane was, of course, the Blackhawks’ reward for winning the 2007 lottery. If it happens again, conspiracy theorists will have a field day.
The lease at Tucson Arena does not expire for four more years. I think the Coyotes understand the value of having a presence in the state’s second largest market, but they would like to see Tucson make more upgrades to the arena, some of which have already begun.
Could I see a scenario where they brought the Roadrunners north to Phoenix? Sure, but ASU would have to be on board and the Roadrunners would not have the same branding opportunities that they would have in Tucson, or even if they played at the Coyotes’ proposed new arena in Tempe.
That depends on how you define new. Jan McBain and Nathan Smith will have to earn an NHL roster spot this fall and there will be competition. Overall, I don’t see a major influx of recent draft picks into Tucson. I’m not sure yet what the plan is for defenseman Emil Martinsen Lilleberg, but the vast majority of picks over the past couple of seasons will likely continue to develop with their current teams.
The 2023-24 season is probably when you will start to see some of these prospects make their way to Tucson.
I don’t see anything particularly unusual about Tucson’s schedule. The 10-team Pacific Division is actually a benefit in most regards because it reduces travel, other than Abbotsford and Calgary. I still wonder what the Flames’ long-term goal is after relocating their AHL team from Stockton. It makes it easier to recall players, but the travel for that team is brutal.
I was kind of hoping they would look at Prescott Valley and the Findlay Toyota Center. I even tried to sell it to Calgary GM Brad Treliving with this pitch: “Can I interest you in one gently used Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Ideal location for travel within the AHL’s Pacific Division, good weather, and one very cool reporter within easy reach.”
He wasn’t biting: “Great sales pitch, you could sell cars!”
It has to start with a meeting of the minds: GM Bill Armstrong, coach André Tourigny and Chychrun. Expectations will be set after Chychrun underperformed last season, but Tourigny has shown exceptional skills when it comes to relationship building. Chychrun will have to be open to the idea, but there is a path forward if he is.
Practically, I would love to speak all languages. Truthfully, I’d rather talk to animals.
It has been a difficult time of year to get in touch with Coyotes because most are on vacation. I am working on a couple of pieces but I also have surgery scheduled this week so TBD. Sorry for the unusually quiet period on the writing front.
As for Petey, we’ll have to hold his feet to the fire. He has artfully dodged all requests to this point.
They were pretty happy with him but again, it’s development camp so no real judgments were formed. Development camp is about orienting the players to the Coyote way. It’s not about player evaluation.
As for Bettman, there have been recent reports that he signed a five-year extension. At age 70, I would guess this would be his last contract, but you never know.
It was until Leah Merrall and I got the chance to set the record straight.
I asked and this is what a spokesperson told me: “Bally Sports Arizona will once again televise the Coyotes this season and the games will be available on Cox and DIRECTV.”
Matt McConnell and Tyson Nash will also be back and we’d love to have them on.
Yes. If you look through my prospect reports from last season you will see that it happens in various forms for all teams.
I think GM Bill Armstrong will remain patient. He is open to taking on another contract or two if it means acquiring more assets. That could come as camp opens, or even as opening-night rosters are due and cap-strapped teams need to move salary off their payroll.
Take heart. NFL training camps have begun. Preseason football is just around the corner.
Here’s how it shook out on the stage on Day 1. The U.S scouts stood with Cooley. The western Canadian scouts were with Geekie, and everyone else was with Lamoureux. Everyone at the table got a turn on the stage, but the order of people on stage had no reasoning.
I’m partial to Wichita’s mascot WuShock. ⬇️
Stay tuned on the latter. Still searching…
As I noted above, both Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and Tempe Vice Mayor (now councilmember) Randy Keating told PHNX Sports that they hope to have resolution on the proposed arena and entertainment district by this fall; the end of 2022 at the latest. The council obviously will determine that date; not the Coyotes.
I do not have any more vacations planned before the end of 2022.
As I noted above, nothing has been announced, but I expect Shane Doan to be around in various capacities for the Coyotes next season. How much could depend on how much else he has going on.
It would be tough to top Kuemper’s two-season run of hardware and subsequent payday. Nobody comes to mind.
I am told that your Coyotes season ticket representative can provide that information.
There won’t be any updates until the arena is actually approved and negotiations can begin for such a move by the Sun Devil basketball programs.
No. As I noted above, think GM Bill Armstrong will remain patient. He is open to taking on another contract or two if it means acquiring more assets. That could come as camp opens, or even as opening-night rosters are due and cap-strapped teams need to move salary off their payroll.
The difference between this year and last year is there are more teams able to weaponize cap space so there is more competition. That said, the Coyotes have more space than any team but Anaheim right now.
There are a lot that come to mind, but this one was pretty powerful, and came out of a casual chat with Gilbert Brulé.
Oddly, I could not find the Fox Sports Arizona link, but I did find the doc in my files:
Honestly, it’s not that bad because the equipment managers work so quickly to collect the dirty laundry and equipment and get it washing. There have been times when I stood next to a player who had a foul smell, and the equipment definitely absorbs that smell, but pro dressing rooms are not as stinky as fans might think.
ASU will have preference on all event booking. It’s their arena so the Coyotes play second fiddle. That said, ASU worked with the Coyotes to reach a fair compromise.
Not everything will move to ASU this season. Oceanside won’t be torn down until next year so a lot of the leagues will remain there this season.
Yes, he started skating a while back. By all accounts, he is ahead of schedule in his rehab.
Not yet, but I would not be surprised if Steve Potvin reprised the role that he held when Jay Varady was on the Coyotes bench during the COVID/bubble season.
See above on Varady’s replacement.
As for winning, the Roadrunners have added some experience on the back end, even if it comes in the form of foreign expericne. Lukáš Klok and Ronald Knot are both 27. Stability on the back end really helps an AHL team. They also added veterans Laurent Dauphin (27) and Jean-Sébastien Dea (28) up front, and Adam Cracknell is 37. We’ll see if that experience can help shepherd the younger players during their development.
TBD on the team store.
No idea about the pins; probably a question for the Coyotes.
Some of them will certainly play in Tucson this season. Jakob Chychrun, Shayne Gostisbehere, Josh Brown and Troy Stecher are basically locks for the NHL roster. I would think Timmins is, too. That likely leaves two spots.
I’m not sure how much Nemeth will play. Dysin Mayo logged a lot of minutes and they liked what he brought so you do the math. There will be training-camp battles.
As for student-section tickets, I have not received that information yet. You might try asking a Coyotes ticket representative.
Varady brought a lot to their development side and I think he wanted another crack at being an assistant coach with the Coyotes. When that didn’t happen, and when he was allowed to talk with another team (Detroit), he jumped at the chance. By the way, Rick Tocchet called Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman on Varady’s behalf. The Coyotes will need to replace that experience and know-how, just as they did when Mike Van Ryn left.
I don’t think Phil Kessel will be back. I think the feeling is mutual that it’s time for him to move on.
Thanks, Ogie. I might be a bit slower for the next couple of weeks.
If the tickets are available, I suppose that’s a possibility. Scalpers may be able to make some money. I haven’t really looked into the Coyotes’ plans to see if they are trying to safeguard against that, but most of the tickets will be sold before the season ever opens.
Barrett Hayton is my pick. I thought he really started to come on late last season. It will be important for coach André Tourigny to give him the right matchups at age 22, but Tourigny knows this.
As long as it involves the Kachina, I’m not picky. The Blackhawks should probably go with this look, given the trajectory of the franchise.
Replace scythe with stick.
Because the 13 rows of seats at ASU represent lower-bowl, premium seating and there are no other seats available at this temporary arena. The existing seats are expensive and the Coyotes’ pricing structure for those seats is in line with other NHL teams.
It stinks that a lot of fans won’t be able to afford games at ASU but if the Coyotes were to lower those prices, they would lose money hand over fist. It will be very important for the team to figure out a way to maintain a relationship with the season-ticket holders who were left out in the cold.
As I noted above, it has to start with a meeting of the minds: GM Bill Armstrong, coach André Tourigny and Chychrun. Expectations will be set after Chychrun underperformed last season, but Tourigny has shown exceptional skills when it comes to relationship building. Chychrun will have to be open to the idea, but there is a path forward if he is.
The latter half of your question calls for far too much speculation. I can’t predict what things will look like three years from now.
Sorry. I like Boise. I covered Arizona in the NCAA Tournament up there years ago, but it’s hard to justify travel for preseason games.
Probably when they emerge from the rebuild and feel that they are one or two pieces away from truly contending for a Cup. How long that will take is anybody’s guess, but it won’t be in the next three years. A more immediate goal should be to get this team to a point where it can compete for a playoff spot.
I am curious to see what Jan Jeník, Matias Maccelli and Victor Soderstrom can do in camp. I’m not predicting anything, but they will have a chance to prove they deserve a bigger role.
Analysts believe the 2023 NHL Draft will be better than 2022. Beyond Bedard, forward Matvei Michkov (SKA St. Petersburg, KHL), center Adam Fantilli (Chicago, USHL) and Slovak center Dalibor Dvorsky (Sweden) are top prospects.
No. I have checked in and have heard nothing new. I’m not even sure that Crouse’s camp and the Coyotes have spoken since the draft. His arbitration hearing is scheduled for Aug. 8. Hayton does not have arbitration rights.
Gostisbehere is under contract for another season and could be a trade chip at the deadline. Anton Strålman will not be back. The last I heard, the Swedish team HV71 (Jönköping) had him on his radar but he was taking some time to think about the future. He really liked his time in Arizona. I thought there might be an opportunity to bring him back at one point. That time has passed.
There are no viable bigger-venue options or they would have already considered that. They decided that the Coliseum was too costly and old to renovate, Suns owner Robert Sarver is not interested in letting them play at Footprint Center, and Gila River Arena clearly is not an option.