For the Arizona Coyotes, Size Matters

Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer are two of the larger players on the team. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer are two of the larger players on the team. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

When it comes to the average height of the players on the Arizona Coyotes roster, size matters.

The Coyotes enter the 2022-2023 season with the third tallest roster in the NHL. The average player height on the Coyotes is 6’2, trailing only the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames (by a mere 1.23 cm).

The tallest players on the roster are center Nick Bjugstad (6’6), goalie Jon Gillies (6’6), defenseman Josh Brown (6’5), winger Lawson Crouse (6’4), defenseman Patrik Nemeth (6’4), and starting goalie Karel Vejmelka (6’4).  In fact, the Coyotes on have five players on the team under 6 feet. Two of them are arguably the best players on the team with Clayton Keller (5’10) and Shayne Gostisbehere (5’11). Both of these players are high-end skill players who were first (Keller) and fourth (Gostisbehere) on the team in scoring last season.

The Coyotes are 13th in the league in average player weight, averaging 200lbs. The largest players on the team are left winger Nick Ritchie (236 lb.), defenseman Patrik Nemeth (230 lbs.), Vejmelka (224 lbs.), Gillies (223 lbs.) and left winger Bokondji Imama (221 lbs.). The Coyotes have twelve players on the roster who weigh under 200 lbs.

So what does this mean for the team’s outlook this season?

Averaging 6’2 and 200 lbs. means this team is big. Having a team that is tall and strong translates into hard hitting and not fun to play against. Taller players have a much larger wingspan making it much more difficult to play against.

Think of the opposition entering the attack zone and stick our checking.

Typically the larger players are not the fastest players in the league so do not expect these guys to win any races. That could be problematic as the trend in the NHL is speed. Have a look at the Colorado Avalanche, nobody could keep up with them last season. The team eventually will need to add speed to the roster, but for the upcoming season, teams will remember that they played the Coyotes after the game.

The Coyotes actually beat the Avalanche twice last year.

The ‘Yotes should be able to wear teams out with their physicality. They are going to be much meaner than majority of teams. The team has some heavy hitters, including Lawson Crouse (188), Zach Kassian (154), Dysin Mayo (129), Patrik Nemeth (115), Nick Bjugstad (99), and Christian Fischer (91). All of these players should easily top 100 hits next season as they will log heavy minutes.

Big hits can separate players from the puck. Big hits get the fans into the game. Big hits can change the momentum.

As I said, teams are not going to want to play the us. Period.

General manager Bill Armstrong prefers size, skill, speed, and players with hockey IQ. This team has the size, has some of the speed, has a handful of players with high hockey IQ, and a plethora of youngsters who are oozing with skill.

There will be lots of growing pains this season, but this roster is not void of the talent that it takes to win games. If the team can leverage their size to break teams down and manufacture goals, Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse, and Nathan Smith should feast. These forwards will score enough goals to keep this team competitive.

Expect a huge season from Crouse. He is the embodiment of what Bill Armstrong is looking for in a player. He is a game changer. Christian Fischer should have a large impact this season as well if he plays with Bjugstad. The identity of this team is size and physicality, so get ready for some hits.

Happy Howlin’!