NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three important questions facing the Arizona Coyotes.
[Coyotes 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]
1. Can Arizona build off its strong finish?
The Coyotes started to establish a winning culture in the last two months of last season. They were 17-9-3 in their last 29 games after going 12-32-9 in their first 53.
Arizona was second in goals allowed (69) and Antti Raanta was first in the NHL with a .950 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average (among goalies with at least 10 games) from Feb. 8 to the end of the season.
Video: 31 in 31: Arizona Coyotes 2018-19 season preview
2. Will Alex Galchenyuk show he's a full-time center?
The 24-year-old spent six seasons toggled between wing and center with the Montreal Canadiens and it might have stunted his development.
Arizona is ready to make Galchenyuk a full-time center, likely on one of its top two lines. If he produces, there's little question that the trade that cost forward Max Domi will look like a win for the Coyotes no matter how the Canadiens view it from their end.
Galchenyuk had 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) last season and scored an NHL career-high 30 goals and 56 points in 2015-16. Rookie Clayton Keller led the Coyotes with 23 goals, and they finished 30th in the NHL with 206 goals.
Video: Tocchet on the Coyotes acquiring Galchenyuk
3. Will Dylan Strome make an impact?
Strome is the only one of the top 10 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft who hasn't established himself as a full-time NHL player. The No. 3 pick said he's confident he will this season.
Strome's belief stems from the impact he made in the final 10 games last season after being recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League. He had eight points (three goals, five assists) for the Coyotes and was first on pucks a lot, which is important because speed was (and still might be) a concern.
The next step is to become an everyday NHL player, even if it means playing wing. If he can do that, he'll silence critics who are wondering if he's a draft bust and would give the Coyotes another playmaker and goal-scorer.
Video: ARI@CGY: Strome scores with seeing-eye goal