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2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Outlook: Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes won't contend in 2022-23, but could you find some hidden gems for your fantasy hockey team this year?
Clayton Keller

The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak.

To help you along, we're starting our fantasy outlook series with the Arizona Coyotes:

2022-23 Fantasy Outlook: Arizona Coyotes

Last season: 25-50-7. 8th Central, 31st overall. GF: 32nd, GA: 30th, PP: 30th, PK: 28th.

By the usual standards, the Coyotes had a disastrous season. They lost a league-high 50 games after being just two games under .500 the season before, and they’re only two seasons removed from a berth in the bubble playoffs. But there is cause for optimism because this was largely by design; by the end of the 2021-22 season, GM Bill Armstrong had amassed as many as 18 draft picks in the first three rounds of the next three drafts. Led by an untested first-year NHL head coach in André Tourigny, the Coyotes’ on-ice performance never felt disastrous because they maintained a pretty high effort level despite a lack of talent. In fact, a number of players had career seasons under Tourigny, including top two scorers Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz, and the Shayne Gostisbehere reclamation project was a huge success.

Best fantasy option: Clayton Keller, LW/RW

Keller finished with 63 points in 67 games last season, finishing top-50 in both P/GP (0.94) and even-strength points (50). It’s a pretty incredible feat considering he had little to no help, and only two other Coyotes managed to score at least 20 goals: Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse. Strangely enough, it was Keller’s worst season based on possession metrics, finishing at 44.77 5v5 CF% but he outperformed his expected goals thanks to a career-high 15.8 S%. It’s higher than his career average (10.7 S%), which warrants some caution, but there are no better fantasy options on the Coyotes. Who his center will be is TBD, but note he had some good chemistry with Travis Boyd, who was miscast as a No. 1 center.

Hidden gem: Lawson Crouse, LW/RW

Last year’s pick was Gostisbehere, and he’s no longer the hidden gem after a strong bounce-back season with 51 points in 82 games, ranking 18th among defensemen and it also marked the first time he’s managed to play every single game. The focus should now be on Crouse, a power forward coming into his own after a slow and steady climb since being drafted 11th in 2015. He established career highs across the board in goals (20) and points (34), and over the past four seasons, he has also amassed 825 hits, the sixth-most in the league, making him an underrated banger league fantasy option.

Goalies

Rookie Karel Vejmelka was surprisingly good considering he was thrown into the fire. He made a strong impression early on, serving up a .916 Sv% in the first two months of the season even though he went 2-9-1, and after 52 appearances – he had never played more than 43 even in the Czech leagues – it was clear by the end of the season the workload was just too much. Vejmelka’s penciled in as the starter for another season. Still, given the Coyotes’ focus on getting more draft picks, it’s unlikely he will have much fantasy value other than the rare streaming start for the desperate fantasy manager who forgot to set his goalies.

Outlook

Aside from Keller in most standard leagues and Crouse and Gostisbehere in deeper leagues, one other name deserves a mention: Jakob Chychrun. He was named the best fantasy option in this space last year after finishing 10th in Norris voting the season before but ended up being a huge disappointment, scoring only 21 points with a minus-20 rating in 47 games. On talent alone he’s by far the best Coyotes defenseman, and hopefully a fresh start will help him get back on track. Fantasy managers do not need to reach for Chychrun in drafts unless they’re convinced he’s going to bounce back. For now, tuck Chychrun on the watch list and pull the trigger quickly if he plays well right away. 

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