The Arizona Coyotes have one of the highest payrolls among defensemen, the second highest in the league at $29.54MM. Yet despite their success defensively, the blueline’s offensive production just isn’t there. The Coyotes defensemen had the seventh-worst goal production in the league and were fourth-worst in points.
The Coyotes hope that much of the defense’s struggles can be accounted by the massive amount of injuries the team suffered throughout the year and while many of those injuries came from the forwards, the changes in personnel definitely had a part to play in the team’s struggles to score goals. The team also were without defenseman Jason Demers for all but 35 games last season and lost Jakob Chychrun for 29 games as well, according to The Athletic’s Craig Morgan (subscription required).
“We played defensive and there were so many injuries that we were forced to, but for the most part during the season, we directed the pace of the game and the scoring chances,” said Demers. “It’s just that once you get behind the eight ball and it has been 20, 30 games of not scoring, you tense up a little bit and you might force things you wouldn’t normally force or look for the perfect play when the perfect play is just getting it to the net.”
The team hopes that new assistant coach Phil Housley can help out and get the defense to start producing some offense, his forte when he was a player. The hope is that with a healthy blueline, the team should be able to take that next step.
- The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta appeared on NHL Tonight recently and stated that the Los Angeles Kings have tried to be active on the trade market, reporting that the Kings were talking to the Arizona Coyotes before the draft about potentially sending Jeff Carter there. Of course that was before Arizona turned around and traded for Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel instead. However, trading off Carter may have been more of a challenge as the 34-year-old who scored just 13 goals and 33 points last season still has three years at $5.27MM AAV and obviously was no where near as productive as Kessel who finished last season with 82 points.
- NBC Sports’ James O’Brien writes that despite moving James Neal Friday, the team’s salary cap situation hasn’t improved much at all. In fact, the Flames saved just $500K after they traded Neal for Milan Lucic, which will require Calgary to make more moves this summer. The team has just $9.97MM in cap space and still have to sign several restricted free agents, including Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, David Rittich and Andrew Mangiapane.
- Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson writes that another victory in the Edmonton Oilers of Lucic to the Calgary Flames for Neal is that Neal doesn’t have a no-trade clause and will not have to be protected in two years for the Seattle expansion draft. However, the Calgary Flames do have to worry about the fact that Lucic has a no-movement clause and will have to be protected, which could be a major issue in two years unless they can convince him to waive that clause for the expansion draft.