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Draft Preview: Arizona Coyotes – Time to get offensive

Coach Rick Tocchet’s team-first model working is to a degree, but more sizzle is needed.

When you only havethree forwards eclipse the modest half-a-point-per-game threshold and not a single skater reach 20 goals, you’ve got work to do. That’s the glass half-empty assessment. The half-full glass says imagine if this hardworking, playoff-bubble team was able to develop a few young players into 30-goal or 70-point men? That would put Rick Tocchet’s Coyotes into the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: In an eight-month period, desert-rival Vegas had the chutzpah to acquire stars Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. The Coyotes need to get in on that action in order to punch up a popgun attack. Only nine forwards have contracts for next season. The remaining spots should be filled by players with an offensive bent.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: Arizona leans heavily on four veteran defensemen who have a combined 42 seasons of NHL experience. That quartet has helped stabilize a young lineup that’s still getting its feet wet. And 21-year-old Jakob Chychrun is a good fifth-man complement. But soon the Coyotes will need blueline reinforcements, and right now there are only two blue-chippers in the system.

CAP SITUATION: New contracts for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak and Niklas Hjalmarsson kick in next season, but there’s cap space to make improvements up front. The team’s internal budget may scupper outside help coming in. Dave Bolland’s IR contract is coming off the books, meaning only Marian Hossa’s dead deal remains.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: The Coyotes have been burned by rushing prospects to the NHL as teenagers. Barrett Hayton, the fifth overall pick in 2018, still has another season of junior eligibility remaining, but he might get fast-tracked. Offensive D-man Kyle Capobianco is ready to step in.

DID YOU KNOW: Liam Kirk, the first player developed and drafted out of the United Kingdom (189th overall in 2018), had a good rookie season with OHL Peterborough – 26 goals and 47 points in 63 games. He’s not among the Coyotes’ top 10 prospects.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Keith Yandle, 105th, ’05
Daniel Winnik, 265th, ’04
Michael Stone, 69th, ’08
Scott Darling, 153rd, ’07
Louis Domingue, 138th, ’10
Kevin Porter, 119th, ’04
Matt Jones, 80th, ’02

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 101
100+ NHL GAMES: 7
PERCENT SUCCESS: 6.9%
NHL RANK: 30th

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