Arizona Coyotes’ Biggest Questions Entering 2016-17 Season

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Arizona Coyotes
Nov 10, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) defends Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) in the second period of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Will OEL emerge from the pack and compete for the Norris Trophy in 2016-17?

Jonathan King:

OEL is a top-five NHL blue-liner, but until this season he’s had to do a great deal of the job on his own. With Connor Murphy progressing, and Alex Goligoski joining the team, OEL finally has some help. This should allow him to get some much-needed attention if the team can break through.

If this new blue-line squad can keep the number of opposing goals down over last year and stay out of the penalty box, this could very well be OEL’s year to compete for the Norris.

Drew Walters:

He should. If you look at OEL’s offensive numbers, he is right there with some of the best in the league.

Offense isn’t everything, but his underlying defensive numbers stack up too.

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Look at his shot suppression and possession compared to last year’s Norris winner Drew Doughty.

The only difference I see between them is plus/minus, which is really a team stat more than an individual stat. The Arizona Coyotes finished 27th in goals against last season while the Kings finished 3rd, so of course OEL was on the ice for more goals than Doughty.

As dumb as I think it is, I believe the voters for this award simply don’t notice players with a bad plus/minus.

If the Coyotes can improve their team play and place in the standings, I think OEL could have a real shot at Norris.

Vincent Benedict:

As good as Ekman-Larsson is I don’t expect him to be in contention for the Norris Trophy this year.

With the addition of Goligoski and growth of others, the Coyotes will be better on defense, but that tends to marginalize the individual performance. When you add in guys like Duclair stepping up, I expect OEL’s production to go down, but for the betterment of the team.

It is an odd conundrum OEL is in. On one hand him scoring goals helps the team greatly, but on the other he plays defense and and the Coyotes struggled mightily last season. I expect OEL to be just as good but I don’t believe it will show up on the stat sheet.