The Arizona Coyotes enter the All-Star break 16-28-6. Clayton Keller will make his third trip to the now meaningless ‘classic’. It is an honor that Keller is recognized for being one of the best players in the NHL, but the actual game/festivities are more or less a massive let down (compared to the event in the past). I mean come on, the costumes and ‘fountain faceoff” were a joke last year. I usually love everything hockey but last year’s contest was hard to watch. The ‘game’ itself also has no real meaning.
Congrats to Keller though, who is one of the best players in the world. I hope that he has fun this weekend.
The Coyotes at the 50 game mark have 32 contests remaining. What should their plans be for the remainder of the season? The easy response is tank! Tank, give the team the best odds at landing the most coveted number one overall pick since Connor McDavid. Finishing dead last does not guarantee the ‘Yotes the top pick. Heck, most hockey conspiracy theorists believe that the Blackhawks have this in the bag because drafting Connor Bedard is better for hockey if he pulls a Chicago sweater over his head on June 28th.
This year has a different feel though, with a new stadium on the horizon and the possibility of Auston Matthews coming home.
The Coyotes are not going to make the playoffs this year, yet alone contend for the Cup, so does it matter if they lose the remaining games? Yes it does.
If this team is serious about taking steps forward it begins now. Tanking means going out each night with the expectation of losing every game. Shades of the movie Major League. I do not believe that that is good for moral, or player development. That mentality will also scare off players from wanting to be here. Do not tank.
Rebuilding and playing like a rebuilding team is what they need to do. Would it make sense to ship out soon-to-be free agents (like Shayne Gostisbehere, Nick Bjugstad, and Christian Fischer) to allow the younger players time to develop? Yes.
Nothing is more important to the youngsters than getting NHL playing time, as long as the players are NHL ready. I am not saying ready to be a star, I am saying mentally ready to start competing against the top players in the world. Those shifts will be crucial as some players need games under their belt to “find their NHL game”. Why not start that process now?
Shipping out the aforementioned soon-to-be free agents brings something back in return, rather than letting them just walk away. Fischer has been a Coyote his entire career. It would be nice to get something in return when his impending exit happens. Plus, it is the right thing to do, give these guys a shot at winning a Cup.
Going out there each night and giving the younger guys that chance to learn to win at the top level will go a long way in their development. The team should not gut the roster though, in attempts to bring in draft capital.
Nick Schmaltz, Keller, and even Jakob Chychrun should not be moved. These guys are going to be essential in the youth movement. Yes, Chychrun wants out, but screw it, unless a team offers a king’s ransom for him, keep him for another year. These guys are going to be depended on to lead and protect these kids. Plus, the Coyotes have something special in Karel Vejmelka, let’s not destroy this man’s confidence by having him lose each night.
That is a career ending concept.
The younger guys need ice time, not pressure to carry a team. If fans understand that we are not going to see a winning team, but players learning how to compete and win, then the future should be bright. We are 2 years away from being a legit contender. Believe that. I believe that Bedard will be a Coyote.
Stay the course boys.