The Arizona Coyotes have had mixed results so far this season, so what should the team look to achieve by the time it is wrapped up?
Prior to the 2018/19 season, the Arizona Coyotes were viewed as potential dark horses for the playoffs and by early November, that certainly looked to be the case.
The team defeated Stanley Cup frontrunners the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 7-1 score and by November 3rd were on a five-game winning streak in which the team had scored four-or-more against their opponents.
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But since then, the wheels have begun to fall off – with injuries and trades shaking up the roster, producing a familiar Coyotes team performing on the ice by the new year.
The team are now just two points above rock bottom in the Western Conference, sitting eight points away from the final Wild Card spot – something the team is still hoping to reach.
But at this stage of the season, with so many of the team’s key players out for extended periods of time, such as Antti Raanta, Christian Dvorak and Jason Demers, who are all effectively out for the rest of the season, is it still a realistic goal or should the Coyotes start looking further ahead already?
The position the Coyotes currently find themselves in could see them have a decent chance of landing a top-three position in the draft, but only if the team remains so close to the basement.
If the Coyotes push for a playoff spot and come close, that will be viewed as a nice improvement for the team, but one that could arguably see them lose out on a guaranteed day-one starter in the draft.
Making the playoffs would be a huge achievement for the team and is undoubtedly the goal, but if things continue to play out as they currently have, would it be better for the team to look towards the draft, particularly if they start to slip further back from the playoffs.
The Coyotes will no doubt target offence early in the draft, with other highly-rated prospects expected to be available within the first ten picks – such as Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades and Vasili Podkolzin, currently playing for SKA-1946 in the MHL (Russian juniors).
As things currently stand, the Arizona Coyotes could still make a serious push for the playoffs, but with injuries mounting it could prove far more difficult than ever before.
Should the team pump the brakes somewhat on their desire to make the playoffs and look to have a higher chance of landing one of the best prospects available – with a serious chance of making the playoffs with a healthy team in 2020?
What do you think Coyotes fans? Should the team still try to push for the playoffs or should they look to get healthy and have a better chance at drafting the likes of Hughes or Kakko? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!