- Coyotes winger Brendan Perlini will miss his fourth straight game on Thursday with an upper-body injury, reports Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan (Twitter link). However, he did skate with the team on Wednesday and appears to be nearly ready to return to the lineup. As for center Brad Richardson who missed Tuesday’s game with a lower-body issue, Morgan adds that he will be a game-time decision on Thursday.
The NHL released its “Three Stars of the Week” today, and after Alex Ovechkin was #1 a week ago, Nikolaj Ehlers takes home the title this time around. Ehlers scored five goals and two assists in just three games, including sending Jets fans home happy with two game-winners. The 21-year old Dane is looking even better than last year when he broke out with 64 points, and more than deserved of the seven-year, $42MM extension he signed earlier this month.
Auston Matthews and Nicklas Backstrom rounded out the three stars, after impressive performances of their own. Backstrom is currently tied for the NHL lead in points with 11, including six on the powerplay already. With Ovechkin looking determined to get back to the 50-goal club this year, Backstrom will certainly continue to rack up points. Speaking of offense, Matthews’ four-goal week included a few highlight reel tallies as the 20-year old Maple Leafs forward continues to show off his incredible skill set. The Maple Leafs wouldn’t be sitting at 4-1 without his two overtime winners.
- Speaking of the 4-1 Maple Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock tinkered with the lines today in practice. According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Babcock had Mitch Marner practicing on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Dominic Moore. Connor Brown was the recipient of a promotion, moving up into Marner’s spot alongside Tyler Bozak. Though Maple Leafs’ Twitter immediately went into panic mode, but Babcock gave a quick explanation to reporters including Kristen Shilton of TSN: “Let’s not read too much into this. Their line wasn’t going. Tie goes to the veteran.” That veteran would be James van Riemsdyk on the other wing, who continues to struggle in the defensive zone despite his six points in five games.
- The Arizona Coyotes have sent Marek Langhamer to the AHL and recalled Adin Hill. The goalie swap comes after a 22-save shutout by Hill for the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday night, and could be a move just to get both goalies some work. Langhamer hadn’t suited up for a game yet in the NHL, and the team likely wants him to stay fresh during the season. We saw a similar situation last year in Columbus after the Blue Jackets waived Curtis McElhinney. Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo flip-flopped constantly between the two leagues thanks to their waiver-exempt statuses, something the Coyotes could do as well. While Antti Raanta continues to nurse a lower-body injury, Louis Domingue looks to get the lion’s share of the work for the Coyotes.
It’s been a bumpy start to Antti Raanta’s tenure in Arizona. The performance of the former New York Rangers backup hasn’t been bad, but after missing the season opener and failing to pick up a win in his three starts since, Raanta is sidelined once again. The new Coyotes starter did not return to last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings after the first period and after the game, coach Rick Tocchet told AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan that Raanta was not struggling with the same issues that plagued him in the preseason and kept him out of Game 1, but instead has suffered a new injury.
In response, the Coyotes today have made an emergency recall of Marek Langhamer from the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners. Arizona has to be ready to host the Boston Bruins tomorrow night and it seems that time table was too soon for Raanta. Louis Domingue is expected to start, as he did the season opening 5-4 loss, with Langhamer as the backup. Raanta’s absence is indefinite as of now, so the Coyotes will have to roll with that duo for the time being. Domingue, who struggled most of last season and has been worse in a small sample size thus far in 2017-18, and Langhamer, who has just 16 minutes of NHL experience, do not make the most threatening duo.
Meanwhile, the team also demoted forward Emerson Etem as they continue to look for the right mix on the roster. If Raanta is in net and performing to his potential, the Coyotes have more wiggle room in their pace of play. However, Raanta has either been absent or dealing with lingering injuries so far and nine goals in four games is not going to cut it while Raanta remains off the ice or off his game. Arizona needs more from a revamped defense that has combined for one goal and six points thus far and needs to find secondary scoring up front beyond Max Domi and rookie Clayton Keller. If the ’Yotes can’t pick up their scoring, the current goaltending woes could extend their winless streak further and further into the new season.
After being waived at the end of training camp, the Arizona Coyotes sent Emerson Etem to the minor leagues as part of a roster crunch. That assignment didn’t last long though, as today the team has recalled the 25-year old forward. In a corresponding move, the team has placed Brendan Perlini on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, according to Craig Morgan of AZSports.
Etem was once a promising young prospect of the Anaheim Ducks, selected in the first-round in 2010 and dominating the WHL for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Etem scored 187 points in the two junior seasons after being drafted, but has never been able to find the same success as a professional on a consistent basis. Last year he played only three games for the Anaheim Ducks before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December, pushing him further away from the NHL consciousness.
He’ll try to rebuild his value in Arizona, contributing in a smaller role than what was once expected of him. Should the team insert him into the lineup right away, it would likely be in a fourth-line role to prove he can contribute in more ways than just scoring. In the one game he played for Tucson, he did register two points. Perhaps this will be the year some of that Medicine Hat magic comes to the NHL.
The Arizona Coyotes have sent top prospect Dylan Strome to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL, while recalling Mario Kempe. Strome played just 11:46 in Arizona’s loss to Vegas this weekend, a relatively low number for a young player of his potential. The team likely wants him to get a bigger workload as they try to develop him into the type of player they believe him to be.
Strome, 20, was selected third-overall by the Coyotes in 2015 ahead of players like Mitch Marner, Noah Hanifin and Pavel Zacha. Though his development has come along slower than those three, he was expected by many to spend much of this season on the NHL roster. Last year, Strome was sent back to junior after just seven games in the NHL, but dominated upon his return. With 109 points in just 57 games (including playoffs), Strome showed he had outgrown the OHL.
Still, he hasn’t shown enough just yet to warrant an NHL roster spot every night. Though a move to the AHL is disappointing, he’ll be able to work on his game and skate against professionals on a nightly basis. Should he show he can dominate at that level, he’ll be back in the NHL before long.
Kempe was an interesting name this summer when the Coyotes decided to sign him and bring him back to North America. The 29-year old was a prospect of the Philadelphia Flyers previously, but has spent the last decade in European leagues. Last year, he played 56 games in the KHL recording 34 points. He signed a one-year two-way contract with the Coyotes this summer, worth the minimum $650K at the NHL level.
With the NHL season now underway, we continue our look at what each team has done this summer and what to watch for in 2017-18. Next up in our team-by-team primers is the Arizona Coyotes.
Last Season: 30-42-10 record (70 points), sixth in Pacific Division (missed the playoffs)
Remaining Cap Space: $15.9MM per CapFriendly
Key Additions: D Adam Clendening (free agency, NY Rangers), F Nick Cousins (trade, Philadelphia), D Jason Demers (trade, Florida), D Niklas Hjalmarsson (trade, Chicago), G Antti Raanta (trade, NY Rangers), F Zac Rinaldo (free agency, Boston), F Derek Stepan (trade, NY Rangers)
Key Departures: F Alexander Burmistrov (free agency, Vancouver), D Anthony Deangelo (trade, NY Rangers), F Shane Doan (retirement), F Peter Holland (free agency, Montreal), F Josh Jooris (free agency, Carolina), F Jamie McGinn (trade, Florida), D Connor Murphy (trade, Chicago), F Teemu Pulkkinen (expansion, Vegas), G Mike Smith (trade, Calgary), F Radim Vrbata (free agency, Minnesota)
[Related: Coyotes Depth Chart From Roster Resource]
Player To Watch: G Antti Raanta – After spending the past four seasons as a backup (including two years with the Rangers where he was well above average), Raanta is getting his first real chance to be an undisputed number one goalie. He’s also getting the opportunity in a contract year as he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in July.
In particular, it will be interesting to see how he holds up with the workload of a starting netminder. He hasn’t surpassed the 40-game mark since 2012-13, his last season in the Finnish SM-liiga before signing with Chicago. Even at a time where most backups are being asked to play more often, starters around the league play beyond 50 games so his endurance as the season progresses could be an issue.
With so many youngsters in the lineup, expectations are that Arizona will take some steps forward this year simply based on that. If Raanta can come close to maintaining his level of play from the past two seasons as well, he will position himself for a big payday on the open market in July while likely keeping the Coyotes close to the playoff picture.
Key Storyline: It would be easy to talk about the continued youth movement that is in place with Arizona having a lot of talented youngsters up front. Between that and Raanta giving them a new starter between the pipes, the work GM John Chayka has done to their defensive corps in a short period of time has largely gone under the radar.
The acquisition of Hjalmarsson gives the Coyotes a dependable stay-at-home partner that should allow Oliver Ekman-Larsson to get more involved offensively. Alex Goligoski was brought in last summer to give the second pairing an above average threat and adding Demers last month gives them another proven option, especially with Jakob Chychrun – a 2016 first rounder – out indefinitely.
When they’re a fully-healthy group, that’s four of their top-five that have been acquired since last summer which is quite the overhaul in a pretty short amount of time. It’s also a pretty strong collection of defenders on paper that has the potential to be one of the better groups in the West. With the additions they’ve made, Arizona could wind up being an intriguing sleeper team in the Pacific Division if everything comes together as planned.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Arizona Coyotes will have newly acquired defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson wear one of three ’A’s this season, reports AZCentral’s Sarah McLellan. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will wear one of the others, but the final alternate captain has not yet been named. Head coach Rick Tocchet said that the team may name a captain, but not until some of the season plays out. Whoever the captain may be, he has big skates to fill. The team’s previous captain—longtime veteran Shane Doan—played his entire 21 year career with the team, including when the team was still in Winnipeg, MB.
Hockey is back. Tomorrow night the NHL will begin its 2017-18 season and the long wait will be over. Today, however, teams have one last job to do: reduce their roster to a cap-compliant 23 players by 5pm EST. Several teams are already there, but many have one or two more cuts to make. None of this means those players can’t be called back up quickly, but these are the rosters teams will head into opening night with. We’ll keep you up to date right here with all the official final transactions.
D Jake Bean – Calgary (WHL)
Columbus Blue Jackets
F Tyler Motte – Cleveland (AHL)
Detroit Red Wings
D Ryan Sproul – Grand Rapids (AHL)
F Anton Slepyshev – Bakersfield (AHL)
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
F Matt Read – Lehigh Valley (AHL)
San Jose Sharks
F Marcus Sorensen – San Jose (AHL)
F Brandon Bollig – San Jose (AHL)
F Adam Helewka – San Jose (AHL)
F John McCarthy – San Jose (AHL)
F Daniel O’Regan – San Jose (AHL)
F Brandon Mashinter – San Jose (AHL)
F Filip Sandberg – San Jose (AHL)
D Joakim Ryan – San Jose (AHL)
D Nick DeSimone – San Jose (AHL)
D Cavan Fitzgerald – San Jose (AHL)
D Radim Simek – San Jose (AHL)
G Troy Grosenick – San Jose (AHL)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights
D Madison Bowey – Hershey (AHL)
F Kyle Connor – Manitoba (AHL)
- Dave Vest of NHL.com writes that Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has been been hampered with a lower body injury since early in camp, skated the entire practice with partner Niklas Hjalmarsson, which Vest says is a good sign he will be ready for the regular season opener on Thursday. As for Antti Raanta, who has also played little as he is recovering from a lower body injury, did practice, but still needs more time. If he is not ready for Thursday’s game, Louis Domingue will start in his place.
Former Detroit Red Wings broadcaster Dave Strader passed away this morning at his home in Glens Falls, New York, at the age of 62, according to the Detroit Red Wings. He had been fighting a form of bile duct cancer. Known as “The Voice,” Strader called the Red Wings games from 1985 to 1996, but also worked as a broadcaster for the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers and worked three Olympics. He received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Strader started his career as a broadcaster for the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in Adirondack from 1979 to 1985, before taking over in Detroit. He eventually went on to cover national games in 1996 with ESPN, ABC and ESPN. He eventually took a full-time job in 2011 calling games for NBC Sports Group.
He spent the last two years calling games for the Dallas Stars even after being diagnosed with cancer in June of 2016. His Foster Hewitt Memorial plaque will go on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13.