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PHNX Coyotes monthly mailbag: You asked, I tried to answer

Craig Morgan Avatar
January 24, 2022

After watching perhaps the best weekend of playoffs in NFL history, I turned off the Bills-Chiefs game thinking how disappointing it was that Buffalo QB Josh Allen never got to touch the ball in the overtime of Kansas City’s 42-36 win. The NFL gave us glorious viewing and then screwed up the final act. I had “Game of Thrones” flashbacks.

Obviously, the Bills defense never should have let the game get to that point, but that has nothing to do with how the NFL structures its overtime. When the committee sat down to develop the OT rules, they didn’t know what would happen in the K.C.-Buffalo game (or any other game). They were merely there to devise the best method possible for OT.

That method should be fair. A coin flip to decide which team gets the ball first and a chance to win the game with a touchdown is not a fair method. A fair method would give both teams an equal shot of scoring in overtime. Clearly, that is not the case in the NFL when one offense does not even take the field.

Football is unique in that the offense and defense are not on the field at the same time. In hockey, basketball and soccer, the two elements are intermingled and in baseball, there is always a full inning so both offenses get their fair crack at the plate.

It’s disappointing and dumbfounding that football doesn’t see this basic and obvious flaw with its OT format. I understand why the NFL might want to end OT games as quickly as possible in the regular season. Football is a physically taxing game. The NHL does the same thing via 3-on-3 overtimes and the shootout in the regular season. The idea is not to exhaust the players because they’ll have to play again, either the next week or in a matter of days.

In the playoffs, that concern has to be thrown out the window, however, and that is where the NHL gets it right. The NHL goes back to sudden death, 5-on-5 OT and lets the teams play until the game is decided through the normal course of action.

Some have suggested that the NFL adopt the college OT rules. I’m open to that option, but I’d prefer that the league just allow the teams to play another full quarter before going that route. Allowing offenses to start at the opponent’s 25-yard line is a disadvantage to the defense. Why put one unit at a disadvantage? Again, let’s make the OT as fair as possible.

And while we’re at it, can we just acknowledge that the coin flip is the dumbest way ever devised to determine possession? It’s not a football play. It’s a random act entirely out of the control of the players. The NHL uses a faceoff between centers. The NBA employs a tip-off between two players. Baseball doesn’t worry about possession because its civilized structure gives each team its fair chance at the plate. I don’t know what the NFL could do to copy the other sports (a rugby scrum?), but a coin flip is moronic.

Thanks for indulging my off-topic rant. Let’s get to your questions for the January edition of the PHNX Coyotes monthly mailbag.

Illustration by Bea Wyatt

From Discord

Sorry, Abe, I have not heard a word.

I don’t see that happening. The leaping fox is probably the least popular logo in Coyotes history, and that is certainly the opinion internally.

A few things:

The trade deadline: Which Coyotes will be traded and which will stay?

Arena watch: Tempe, interim and practice arenas.

The continued progression of players such as Clayton Keller (can he sustain this for an entire season?), Lawson Crouse (ditto), Karel Vejmelka (will teams start to figure him out and he will he adjust to their detailed scouting reports?), Janis Moser (will the NHL grind impact his play at some point?), Nick Schmaltz (can he find his game again? There are more examples, but that should give you an idea

From what I understand, there are no current talks with officials for Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

I never stopped asking off-the-wall, random questions that don’t pertain to the game.

From Twitter

When I compiled a list of the Coyotes’ top prospects in September, Bergkvist was not on the list. That list was not my ranking; it was my sense of how the organization viewed their prospects, which is all that really matters.

Bergkvist wasn’t signed after the 2019-20 season in Kitchener and I don’t think that 35 games in HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden’s second-tier league) have changed the Coyotes’ minds regarding Bergkvist. At this point, the Coyotes view Bergkvist as a minor-league player whose skating needs to improve, but he has six goals and 27 points, he is stout (200 pounds) for his size (5-9) and he has a good shot.

Time is running out on his chance to convince the Coyotes that he belongs in their plans.

The biggest surprises would have to be goalie Karel Vejmelka and defenseman Janis Moser. We’ll see if Vejmelka can sustain this level of play once the NHL gets the scouting book on him, and we’ll see how the long grind of the season impacts Moser, but both look like they belong in the NHL. These are the kinds of pieces you need to find during a rebuild to surround elite players with enough depth to succeed. The early returns on both have been good.

Nick Schmaltz has battled injuries but he clearly is not having the type of season that he or the team wanted. The same goes for Jakob Chychrun. The loss of so many veterans on the blue line and skill up front has impacted his game, but he has struggled defensively and he hasn’t produced anything close to the offensive numbers he had last season. I think you’d also have to look at the Dmitrij Jaškin signing as a big disappointment. He made little to no impact and was paid handsomely ($3.2 million). I think Ilya Lyubushkin has also taken a step back.

I was told that it is going well; he is right on track.

I haven’t checked into other teams’ interest and that contract (six more years at a cap hit of $7.15 million) would be tough for teams to absorb in this flat-cap era, but Keller’s growth this season has been noticeable and promising. I’m not sure if you saw it, but GM Bill Armstrong told me recently that he now views Keller as a key piece of the future.

No. The Coyotes will not be looking to add any big-name free agents this offseason. They are in the early stage of a rebuild. This is not the time to add big-ticket free agents. You do that when you think you are close to contending, or when you think you are a piece or two away from a Cup run.

First-round pick (No. 9) Dylan Guenther is ripping it up in the Western Hockey League with 21 goals and 43 points in 30 games. After a slow start, he is sixth in the league in points per game (1.433).

Second-round pick (No. 37) Josh Doan leads all NCAA Division I freshman in points with 29 in 27 games. He needs to work on his skating but is showing a complete and responsible game.

Second-round pick (No. 60) Janis Moser is already impressing at the NHL level.

Seventh-round pick (No. 223) Sam Lipkin is having a terrific season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. He has 17 goals and 38 points in 30 games. He is tied for 11th in the league in points.

There is merit to the Chychrun rumors. I discuss them below in response to others’ questions.

He has some habits to clean up away from the puck but nearly half of the league has inquired about him because he can score. If he can have a good offseason and get more explosive he may have a chance. Like Doan, he looks like a late bloomer.

I’m not sure. The opinions of this draft have shifted a lot and we are still talking about 17- and 18-year-olds so nobody really knows for sure, but I have been told that there are plenty of good players in this draft. The wish, obviously, is to get a franchise center at the top.

Christian Fischer, so I could make him eat a hot dog without ketchup.

I still think they like Hayton and want to see him progress. Remember, he had two years of development interrupted/stunted by the pandemic, injuries and usage so he is a little behind schedule. I wouldn’t be so quick to give up on a big center with 200-foot skills. Maybe he won’t ever warrant the No. 5 overall pick, but who cares if he can slot effectively into your top-9?

Imagine the pressure on the coach to play Josh. Shane would never apply it. He would probably go in the opposite direction, but still…

In the time-honored tradition of dull NHL nicknames, they either call him Koly or Vlad. 🙄

I am told that the Coyotes wear Med Supply on their road white helmets and they have Med Supply on their practice jerseys. 

There are still lots of goalies in the league who wear them. It’s all about personal preference and having the ability to move. Also, the current mask styles have a longer chin to help protect that area more.

Here’s what Brian Boucher told me: “I didn’t wear it because I didn’t like how it rattled around; found it cumbersome. I wore a neck collar underneath made by Vaughn and most if not every goalie except Robin Lehner, from what I can think, does as well. For years, I wore a turtleneck or mock as well because I hated the thought of my neck being exposed.”

Ha! I think it has just been a matter of circumstance thus far. I don’t think that they are trying to limit him to tough road matchups, but injuries/illness have forced them to play him in such situations. I would like to see him get a home game soon.

It depends on several factors. Are other teams offering them something attractive for those assets? Are the draft-eligible players they want still on the board at the time they pick? Will injuries, defections or losses force them to move one or more of those assets to fill a more immediate need?

In short, it’s too soon to say.

0%.

Not yet, but I suspect an announcement will be forthcoming soon.

I don’t even know that questions means, but if you are referring to their missteps on the business side, they clearly need to figure that out. That said, they have had success in other industries. I think it’s a pretty big stretch to call them clueless. I do think that they need to understand that operating in the professional athletics space is vastly different from other spaces.

I think he needs at least three years of college hockey before he’s ready to take the next step; maybe all four.

I have written and talked a lot about the Jakob Chychrun trade rumors. If you want to know all of my thoughts you should listen to this show. Discussion begins around the 33:30 mark.

As I have written elsewhere, be careful with the rumors you hear out there about what has been offered. Also, be careful with the reported ask when it gets too specific on the package of picks, prospects and players. Bill Armstrong is not telling anyone,”I want this amount of picks, prospects and players specifically.” Again, the haul would have to be huge — a haul so huge that it convinces him that he is improving the team — and he is not going to limit his ask in any way. That would be foolish because it would close off alternate possibilities.

I don’t know if Jakob Chychrun is going to be traded. The market is going to be saturated with potentially cheaper options because the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture is clear (eight teams are already out and can become sellers) and at least two, (three if Chicago is being honest with itself) teams are already sellers in the West.

That said, Chychrun’s contract, age and past production make him very attractive. He is not a rental like a lot of the players who will be on the market. He has term remaining on his deal so teams may be inclined to view him differently.

Finally, the trade deadline is still two freaking months away and every report we have heard for the past few weeks has suggested things are heating up. That’s a media driven narrative, but remember: agents and league executives love to talk and stir the pot.

When I asked Chychrun about the trade rumors after he returned to the lineup in New Jersey on Wednesday (players are not available to media until they return from injuries), this is all he said before turning his thoughts to his return.

“The rumors are there and there’s not much I can do. That’s not really what I’m thinking about on a daily basis.”

I requested a one-on-one interview with Chychrun but was told that he would not be commenting further on the trade rumors.

I don’t know why Karel Vejmelka’s name is even involved in trade rumors. The Coyotes just discovered him, they brought him over and they like what they have seen so far. He is a product of this scouting staff’s efforts. GM Bill Armstrong is not going to jettison him at the first opportunity. He’s not going anywhere. He is also a restricted free agent so there is no rush to re-sign him, but I have been told that talks to re-sign him will begin soon.

It’s impossible to answer that, but the guys you should look at most are Jakob Chychrun, Phil Kessel, Johan Larsson and maybe Travis Boyd and Antoine Roussel, who has a modified no-trade clause (five teams).

I highly doubt that the Oilers would pursue Scott Wedgewood. We’ll see about Phil Kessel. Edmonton has a lot of needs but the top priority is finding a starting-caliber goaltender.

Shayne Gostisbehere won’t be on the block this year; he could be next year. He’ll be 30 at the end of next season. I’m not sure he would factor into the team’s long-term plans.

There’s always a chance, but I think it is remote and I think there will be more clarity on the arena situation soon.

Per several sources, my understanding is that the Coyotes are not pursuing Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Never say never, but I suspect that the door has also closed on returning to Gila River Arena.

I have not heard anything specifically, but there has been talk of doing a deal on tribal lands before, and there have been several sites mentioned.

I don’t, but I have not asked. It’s not hard to find available office space. I doubt that’s at the top of their list of concerns right now. I’m sure they’ll find a suitable space; maybe one with windows.

We’ll see if the deadline creates more desperation and more demand. I’m sure that’s what Bill Armstrong is hoping. Kessel has helped things by producing this season (27 points in 40 games).

Here are a few things worth reading.

A story on NHL pensions:

Another story on NHL pensions.

And another story on NHL pensions.

I would say that any package that includes the No. 1 overall pick and Kingston center Shane Wright would be preferable. You need elite players. He is the surest thing in the draft.

I have a story planned on it so I am not giving it away.

There are too many hypotheticals and variables in that question, but if you have a chance too acquire a franchise center like the first two or a franchise defenseman like Makar, you do what is necessary because they alter the complexion of a franchise. If it takes five assets, so be it.

I’d probably give up a little less for Bedard because he’s not a proven commodity.

Because players and coaches are wired to win. Players and coaches don’t tank. Organizations may, but in saying that they are not going to force their coaches or players to follow suit. Bill Armstrong has said previously that he would never cheat his existing coaches and players out of the opportunity to taste victory. While the franchise is clearly taking a step back, they still want to establish a dressing room culture of competing hard. It’s about habit forming.

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