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2015 NHL Draft
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Features

Resurgence of Smith big question for Coyotes

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

Since reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012, the Arizona Coyotes have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and bottomed out last season with the second-worst record in the NHL.

But general manager Don Maloney believes a return to better days is not far away.

Here are three questions that could bring them back sooner rather than later:

Will Mike Smith regain his old form? Smith had 14 wins in 62 games last season (14-42-5), his lowest save percentage (.904) in four seasons with Arizona, and his highest goals-against average (3.16) of his career. Smith was 38-18-10 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA when the Coyotes made the Western Conference Final. Despite his struggles, coach Dave Tippet said numerous times last season Smith will remain the starter. But will newcomer Anders Lindback get a chance at the No. 1 job of Smith's difficulties continue?

Emerging Ekman-Larsson has Coyotes optimistic

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Arizona Coyotes finished last season with the worst record in the Western Conference, the second-worst record in the NHL, and their worst record since moving to Arizona prior to the 1996-97 season.

The Coyotes (24-50-8) couldn't score and were scored on too much, with a goal differential of minus-102. Not much went right for Arizona, which missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season.

But plenty of moves were made this offseason to try to correct these issues.

Arizona signed experienced backup goalie Anders Lindback, gritty forwards Steve Downie and John Scott, and Antoine Vermette and Brad Richardson to hopefully alleviate some of the offensive woes.

Here are four other reasons for optimism in Arizona:

Domi, Duclair among Coyotes' top five prospects

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Arizona Coyotes have reason for optimism because of young talent that likely will be in the NHL in the near future.

It starts with forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, who each has a good chance to make the roster out of training camp. Forward Dylan Strome, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, probably will spend the season in the American Hockey League, but he and forwards Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini could reach the NHL in 2015-16.

Defensemen Brandon Gormley, Philip Samuelsson and Klas Dahlbeck are likely to be staples for years to come.

Here's a look at the Coyotes' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Coyotes confident improvement on the way

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

David Satriano - NHL.com Fantasy Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

The Arizona Coyotes had two big problems last season.

"Not only couldn't we score last year, we couldn't defend," general manager Don Maloney said.

This season, Maloney expects at least a revamped defense to be much improved.

"Bringing back Zbynek Michalek, who's a core guy for us, you know what you're getting out of him," Maloney said in late July. "Nick Grossman, we are adding him to our mix; two guys who just give us stability on our blue line. Klas Dahlbeck came in and had a pretty impressive year … as did Connor Murphy. Brandon Gormley comes in and establishes a name for himself.

"Long story short, I know we are going to be a better team next year."

Last season, the Coyotes had the worst record in the Western Conference and were 11-25-5 at Gila River Arena, their worst home record since they moved to Arizona 19 years ago. It included three home losing streaks of at least eight games.

Arizona Coyotes fantasy hockey outlook

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvauled player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Ekman-Larsson was one of two defensemen in the NHL to lead his team in scoring (Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators was the other). However, he was the only blueliner to lead his team in goals and points (23 and 43, respectively). His 23 goals led all NHL defensemen and his 38 goals over the past two seasons are tied for second most among blueliners (Karlsson has 41). Ekman-Larsson, 24, should continue to improve while Arizona begins to deploy its youth movement (see deep sleeper below) and if his plus/minus improves, he could end up turning into a top-10 fantasy defenseman.

Undervalued: Steve Downie

PIMs, PIMs and more PIMs. As long as your league counts penalty minutes as a category, Downie needs to be drafted with one of your final picks. In the past two seasons, only Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars has more PIMs (357) than Downie's 344. However, Downie accomplished that number in 27 fewer games. Downie is also capable of chipping in offensively after scoring 14 goals and 14 assists with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

Crouse plans to be leader for Canada at World Juniors

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 8:29 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Lawson Crouse was looking for any opportunity to play for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship.

As one of two players in Canada's camp eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, Crouse, 17 at the time, had one mission: bull his way on to the final roster.

"Going in, I was just there to do whatever I could to make that team," Crouse told NHL.com. "I was there with the attitude that I was going to stick and if not, make it hard for the coaches to send me home. I guess I just went in with a positive attitude and tried to get better each and every day. I'm glad it paid off. It led to the gold medal, which was a surreal experience for myself and something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Trio of goalies aim for shot with Canada at 2016 WJC

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 6:16 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Canada's goaltending situation at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship is a long way from being determined.

But the three goaltenders participating in Hockey Canada's national junior team summer development camp aren't shying away from making it known that they're up for the task of defending World Junior gold.

"It would mean everything," said Mason McDonald at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, hoping to be the starter for the tournament that starts Dec. 26, 2015 and runs through Jan. 5, 2016 in Finland. "It's something I've dreamed of ever since I was young. It's what I've worked the last few summers for. I've thought about it so much. I'm just really excited to have the opportunity this week."

Bernier signs two-year contract with Maple Leafs

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 1:52 PM / NHL Free Agency 2015

NHL.com

Goalie Jonathan Bernier signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Financial terms were not released, but Sportsnet reported an average annual value of $4.15 million.

"I was happy we were able to get a deal done," Bernier said in comments tweeted by the Maple Leafs. "Now I can focus on training camp and get ready for the season."

Bernier, 26, requested a one-year $5.1 million contract while the Maple Leafs offered a one-year $2.89 million contract, according to Sportsnet. He had a team-elected arbitration hearing Friday.

Canada starts process of defending World Junior gold

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 11:07 AM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Prior to stepping on the ice to kick off Hockey Canada's national junior team summer development camp Saturday, the 39 players invited to participate were first shown a video.

It depicted the "Canadian way."

Though the opportunity to defend World Junior gold is months away, the process has already started and those auditioning for a spot on the roster that will represent Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, from Dec. 26, 2015, through Jan. 5, 2016, got the message.

"In that video, Sidney Crosby was asked about what the Canadian way meant to him," said forward Jake Virtanen at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. "He said it was every guy buying into the systems and every guy is going to be a good player on their club teams, important players to their teams, but every guy has to check their ego at the door and buy in, and no one's going to be above the team. You put the team before yourself.

"That's a pretty cool message from him and seeing that on video from him was pretty cool."

Haula, Wild agree to terms on two-year contract

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 10:12 AM / NHL Free Agency 2015

NHL.com

Forward Erik Haula agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Financial terms were not released, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the contract is worth $2 million with Haula receiving $950,000 in the first year and $1.05 million in the second.

Haula had an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Friday and asked for $1.2 million. The Wild countered with $775,000 for one year, according to the Star Tribune. The two sides settled Sunday before the arbitrator rendered a decision.

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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions