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Coyotes monthly mailbag: You asked, I tried to answer

Craig Morgan Avatar
September 27, 2022

It’s odd how smells and tastes can transport you instantly to a past experience. It happened to me this past weekend while I was in Tucson to cover the Coyotes-Ducks preseason game.

My wife and I needed a shot of espresso on Saturday evening to give us a needed boost for our planned late night. After our dinner at The Monica, we ordered them and the flavor reminded me of an anniversary trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

We stayed in the guest house of an incredible villa in Sant’Agnello, which is just north of Sorrento along the coast. We used the convenient rail system to get around but each evening when we arrived home, we witnessed a tradition. Commuters would hop off the train, climb down the steps and stop at a coffee shop where they would sip an espresso before going home to their families.

We asked a couple of men in the shop why this practice was so common and they told us the idea was to inject some instant energy into their bodies so that they would be alert and engaged when they got home to their families.

Who knows. They may have been lying to us. Maybe they were delaying getting home. Maybe they needed the energy to manage some unruly kids or a fiery Italian spouse. Regardless, I tried it Monday when I got home from work and then ahd a 20-minute chat with my kids.

So yes, I am advocating that extend your caffeine addiction from the morning to the evening.

Let’s get to your questions.

Illustration by Bea Wyatt

From Discord

I have been asked this question a lot recently. Let me start by saying this: The Coyotes are solely focused on getting their Tempe arena and entertainment district proposal approved right now. They aren’t going to discuss Plan B, even though they certainly have a Plan B, and probably a Plan C and a Plan D.

As far as the Footprint Center welcoming back the Coyotes, it is way too early to speculate on that. First, we don’t know who the new owners will be and what their appetite for sharing that facility might be. Second, we don’t know if the Phoenix City Council or the Suns would welcome the idea of a major renovation to the arena so soon after another major renovation was just completed.

For the Coyotes to move in, the entire north end of the building would have to be blown out to create a genuine bowl without obstructed-view seats. I have heard estimates that it would cost more than $200 million to do so. If the Coyotes are to find the private financing for such a venture, would they want to make that sort of investment in what is now a 30-year-old building?

Finally, it’s important to remember why the Coyotes left Footprint Center (then America West Arena) back in 2003. It wasn’t just those obstructed-view seats. It is difficult for NHL and NBA teams to share a building while both reap the full revenue benefits that come from naming rights, advertising and other avenues. There are facilities around North America that are shared by NBA and NHL teams, but if you look at those instances, they are largely in major markets where revenue streams are more plentiful and the arena is usually owned by the city, jointly owned or owned by an NHL team. In Denver’s case, both teams are owned by the Kroenke family, mitigating the issue.

Having an NHL tenant in an NBA-owned arena is problematic because the NHL does not have anywhere near the national TV rights money that the NBA enjoys so its harder to mitigate revenue losses or shortcomings.

I’m not saying that this can’t happen, and the thought of having the Coyotes back downtown is interesting because it could create even more of a hub than already exists with the Suns and Diamondbacks. Just know that there are many hurdles to cross before that could become a reality. It’s not as simple as saying, “Robert Sarver is gone. Now the Coyotes can move downtown.”

I think Chiasson has an excellent shot at landing a roster spot. Andrew Ladd is unlikely to play this season, the Coyotes need more veteran leadership in the dressing room and GM Bill Armstrong loves size (Chiasson is 6-4). I also think that Chiasson has some game left at age 31.

One or two. JJ Moser proved a lot to the coaching and management staffs last season. He looked like he belonged, even when he had to eat more minutes in tougher situations. I could see Patrik Nemeth as the seventh defenseman on this roster, even though reports of his play in New York last season were far from complimentary.

The other three will likely end up back in Tucson unless they show something big in camp over the next two weeks, but that doesn’t mean they won’t earn call-ups. The Coyotes are certain to suffer some injuries on their back end over the course of the season.

The wild card in all of this is Jakob Chychrun. I’m not sure when he’ll be ready to play, or if the Coyotes will be able to consummate a suitable trade for him. If Chychrun is not on the opening-night roster, somebody will have to fill that spot. That means there could be opportunity for another player.

The guys whom I think are locks are Shayne Gostisbehere, Troy Stecher, Conor Timmins, Chychrun is he’s ready, Moser and Josh Brown. You’re probably thinking that Dysin Mayo belongs on this list, too, given his role last season. He may. He ate a lot of minutes last season but his underlying numbers were not good.

It’s too early to say whether there is upside with Ronald Knot and Lukáš Klok, but they will surely bring size and experience to a Tucson back end that sorely needed it last season.

It depends on what else is in place.

Look, I have a hard time believing Auston Matthews will leave Toronto, and if he does, there will be other suitors like the LA Kings so landing him won’t be easy. To do so, the Coyotes will have to have an arena deal and timeline in place, and their cupboards will have to be stocked with a lot more top-end prospects than they currently have.

That said, I do not discount how much Matthews loves the Valley. He seems to come here whenever he has free time, he has close friends on the Coyotes’ roster, he takes great pride in his Latino heritage and I know it would mean something to him to see the Coyotes succeed. This was his childhood team.

There are, in fact, agents who specialize in representing GMs and coaches. It is odd how much more secretive those negations and names are, but players agents typically are not also GM and coach agents.

I have not heard any development plans of that sort for the Coyotes.

I hope to catch up with Brad soon to ask about his future.

Your timing is excellent, Dave. We plan to discuss the Taylor Hall trade on our Tuesday Trade Talk podcast. That will be our last Tuesday Trade Talk of the season. I don’t want to give too much away because we will dive into all of this, but you asked some excellent questions.

I do not have an answer for you, Abe. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I don’t play fantasy sports; never have. Since I have no skin in the game, I am granting you full license to talk smack.

1. Some options: Jan. 8 when Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town; Jan. 19 when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals come to town; Feb. 28 when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town in a battle for the bottom of the NHL standings; March 16 or April 13 when former Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland and the Vancouver Canucks come to town; March 26 when the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche come to town; or March 27 when Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers come to town.

2. I don’t like to put ceilings on guys this early in their careers. Both play refined games. McBain has blown me away with his details away from the puck and the heady plays that he makes with it. His size is really attractive, but I think Smith has greater offensive upside. This season will give the Coyotes a much better read on both players’ futures.

I have only seen them on the ice three times so it would be unfair to comment. Besides, my eye is not trained like the scouts and hockey ops execs. One player who has flown under the radar but has impressed the staff is forward Laurent Dauphin. Given his age and contract status, he could be an extra forward on the roster.

From Twitter

Yes. Scouts and analysts consider the 2023 draft to be a very deep draft, but beyond the depth, it also has excellent talent at the top. Draft analysts Chris Peters told me that he thinks the top three players in the 2023 draft — Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli — are all better than any of the players in the 2022 draft. I have watched a fair amount of Fantilli and from my vantage point, if the Coyotes don’t win the top overall pick in the lottery, landing Fantilli would be a great consolation prize. He’s big, he’s skilled, he’s a good skater and he is tough to defend. He is definitely a No. 1 center prospect.

As long as the Coyotes don’t do something crazy in the regular season, they should have a crack at an elite player, and if they end up trading Jakob Chychrun, they may get another very good player in the first round.

This is an impossible question to answer. Here’s why. I love to travel and I love to experience new places.

Here are some my favorite spots so far: Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Barcelona, Nice, Leiden (Netherlands), Aachen (Germany), Ireland’s southwestern peninsulas, Brugges (Belgium), the San Juan Islands/Victoria/Vancouver, Big Sur, Portland, Maine, Mammee Bay (Jamaica), Bermuda.

How about another year of growth for the young core of Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse and Barrett Hayton?

Or how about the imminent arena vote?

Colorado
St. Louis
Minnesota
Nashville
Dallas (Vancouver beats out Dallas for the second wild card)
Winnipeg
Chicago
Arizona

I don’t know and neither do the Coyotes. I don’t know if anybody is certain what the lunatic named Vladimir Putin is going to do next. The Russian Defense Ministry has claimed that only 300,000 men up to the age of 55 with prior military experience are being mobilized, but Russian media outlets have reported cases where older individuals and men without military training have been called up. Online media outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe even reported government plans to draft up to 1 million men, a claim that the Kremlin has denied. 

I plan to dive into this in a story this week, but suffice to say, I do not think that the backup goalie is in camp and I’m not sure that the Coyotes think he is, either.

Based on his development arc, the Coyotes want Ivan Prosvetov to play a full season as the starter in Tucson. This is a contract year and he needs to prove that he is still a part of their future after struggling last season.

That leaves PTO Chris Gibson, prospect David Tendeck and free-agent signing Jon Gillies as the current options. I have noted many times that the Coyotes will watch the waiver wire and other opportunities as camps progress. I will dive into some of those possibilities on Thursday.

Thanks, Sheryl. I really appreciate you still following along after your move back east.

I have an assignment for you. Calculate the odds of the Coyotes not getting the No. 1 overall pick, but incorporate past misses into those odds.

It’s a really good question and one that I have wondered about as well. I don’t see a single prospect in their system whom you can call a top-pair defenseman.

I don’t think the Coyotes are looking to go the free-agent route just yet. I think they will try to find some prospects through the draft over the next couple of years, but the 2023 draft, much like the 2022 draft, does not have many elite-rated defensive prospects.

As for the road trip, I am going to cheat and take three; two former, one current.

Ray Whitney is a talker and I suspect a good driver (he’s an avid mountain biker) so I’m putting him at the wheel to spin stories and entertain us the entire way. Keith Tkachuk will ride shotgun, keep Whitney honest and pay for everything because he has the bank account. I’ll be in the backseat with Christian Fischer, who is also a conversationalist, but seems able to roll with whatever comes his way while maintaining a positive approach.

I’m not sure about a round robin, but I did have a couple of sources tell me that they are working to make a return trip to Wichita next preseason.

I didn’t get to watch Barrett Hayton play because I was not there and the game was not televised, but he looks leaner and faster in practice. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is a top-nine center. Can he elevate to top-six this season?

For ease sake, I am copying the response that I gave above to one of our subscribers on Discord:

I have been asked this question a lot recently. Let me start by saying this: The Coyotes are solely focused on getting their Tempe arena and entertainment district proposal approved right now. They aren’t going to discuss Plan B, even though they certainly have a Plan B, and probably a Plan C and a Plan D.

As far as the Footprint Center welcoming back the Coyotes, it is way too early to speculate on that. First, we don’t know who the new owners will be and what their appetite for sharing that facility might be. Second, we don’t know if the Phoenix City Council or the Suns would welcome the idea of a major renovation to the arena so soon after another major renovation was just completed.

For the Coyotes to move in, the entire north end of the building would have to be blown out to create a genuine bowl without obstructed-view seats. I have heard estimates that it would cost more than $200 million to do so. If the Coyotes are to find the private financing for such a venture, would they want to make that sort of investment in what is now a 30-year-old building?

Finally, it’s important to remember why the Coyotes left Footprint Center (then America

Finally, it’s important to remember why the Coyotes left Footprint Center (then America West Arena) back in 2003. It wasn’t just those obstructed-view seats. It is difficult for NHL and NBA teams to share a building while both reap the full revenue benefits that come from naming rights, advertising and other avenues. There are facilities around North America that are shared by NBA and NHL teams, but if you look at those instances, they are largely in major markets where revenue streams are more plentiful and the areas is usually owned by the city, jointly owned or owned by an NHL team. In Denver’s case, both teams are owned by the Kroenke family, mitigating the issue.

Having an NHL tenant in an NBA-owned arena is problematic because the NHL does not have anywhere near the national TV rights money that the NBA enjoys so its harder to mitigate revenue losses or shortcomings.

I’m not saying that this can’t happen, and the thought of having the Coyotes back downtown is interesting because it could create even more of a hub than already exists with the Suns and Diamondbacks. Just know that there are many hurdles to cross before that could become a reality. It’s not as simple as saying, “Robert Sarver is gone. Now the Coyotes can move downtown.”

I suspect they won’t go for it, but I think we need a Petey sigh button just like our rebuild reminder button for the PHNX Coyotes show.

Legit excited to watch games at Mullett Arena — Coyotes and ASU — from the closest press box in the NHL. Have I mentioned that my commute has been cut in half?

I would actually be surprised if both make the roster. I have 10 forward spots locked down already — Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse, Christian Fischer, Barrett Hayton, Nick Ritchie, Nick Bjugstad, Travis Boyd, Zack Kassian and Liam O’Brien. I also think that Alex Chiasson has an excellent chance to make the roster, which would make 11.

I doubt that the Coyotes will keep more than 13 forwards on the roster so McBain and Smith are in a battle with the likes of Miloš Kelemen, Laurent Dauphin, Michael Carcone, Ben McCartney and Matias Maccelli for the final roster spots. When you think about those extra forward spots, you have to ask yourself if the player is in a situation where he can sit often. That’s not the case with prospects who need to develop. It’s a better fit for veterans who are not a part of your team’s future.

I like McBain’s chances over Smith’s but we’ll see.

After his comments on media day, I would say slim to none, but remember, GM Bill Armstrong is not going to sell Chychrun off at a bargain rate. If Chychrun wants a trade, he’ll probably have to play his way out. I would imagine that there are many teams that would like to see him play again to evaluate the state of his game. If you’re going to commit significant assets to a trade, you’ll probably want up-to-date information on what you are getting in return.

I have been told that the contract expires after the 2023-24 season. You’re right that access to Coyotes games is difficult but there are not a lot of options locally; maybe none other than Bally.

There’s also this family of RSN’s financial struggles to consider. Maybe that’s why MLB, the NBA and the NHL are considering buying Diamond Sports’ network of RSNs.

Correct, although we’ll see how that fares given the information above.

The NHL is not a developmental league. If the Coyotes want Victor Söderström and Vladislav Kolyachonok to develop, that will likely happen in Tucson. I think Stecher and brown will both be on the NHL roster.

I have heard several rumors about the third jerseys. The Coyotes like to break this news themselves. I will let them do that. I realize that it is important to fans, but I’ve got much bigger storylines to follow than the unveiling of a piece of fabric.

I feel like Steve Peters should do this because he has welched on a promise to dance for far too long. For those who don’t know what you’re talking about, here it is.

No, they are not considering a pause and I do not think that they should for all of the reasons that I stated above when asked about Footprint Center.

We have pondered this on the PHNX Coyotes show. It may have to be a topic as the seasons kick off.

You must have information that I do not when saying that a Chychrun trade is imminent. One piece of advice: Don’t pay too much heed to all of those reports coming out of Ottawa. They are getting fed information but they are not checking that information against the requisite local sources here in Arizona.

I don’t think that they have to get another team’s top prospects, but GM Bill Armstrong will likely want a very good prospect, and he’ll want draft capital as well.

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