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Team Reset

Coyotes acquire veterans to guide young talent

Leadership of Stepan, Hjalmarsson vital after not re-signing longtime captain Doan

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Arizona Coyotes:

The Arizona Coyotes have been going through a rebuild the past three seasons, guided the past year by 28-year-old general manager John Chayka. Arizona hasn't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since advancing to the Western Conference Final in 2012, but things are finally starting to come together after a plethora of moves this offseason, including the departure of Dave Tippett, who had been the second-longest tenured coach (eight seasons) in the NHL behind Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Arizona hired Rick Tocchet to replace Tippett on Tuesday. Tocchet, 53, played 18 seasons in the NHL and won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships the past two seasons as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will be tasked with leading a young roster that features promising forwards Max Domi and Christian Dvorak, as well as defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, an established all-star.

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Here is what the Coyotes look like today: 

 

Key arrivals 

Derek Stepan, C: Acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on June 23, Stepan gives the Coyotes a proven first-line center. The 27-year-old has at least 53 points in each of the past four seasons and is capable of playing in all situations. ... Antti Raanta, G: Acquired from the Rangers with Stepan, Raanta finally gets his shot to become a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL. He was one of the top backups last season, finishing 16-8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. ... Niklas Hjalmarsson, D: The Coyotes were able to pry Hjalmarsson from the Blackhawks in a trade, also on June 23. Hjalmarsson had spent all 10 of his NHL seasons in Chicago, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2015). He brings plenty of Stanley Cup Playoff experience and stability to Arizona's defense.

Video: Arizona Coyotes acquire Derek Stepan & Antti Raanta

 

Key departures 

Shane Doan, F: The Coyotes decided to not re-sign Doan, 40, the franchise's all-time leader in goals (402), assists (570), points (972) and games (1,540). He was Coyotes captain since 2003 and spent all 21 NHL seasons with the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise. ... Mike Smith, G: Smith was traded to the Calgary Flames on June 17 after six seasons with the Coyotes. He is first in Coyotes/Jets history in shutouts (22) and third in wins (128). The 35-year-old has started at least 55 games in three of the past four seasons. ... Radim Vrbata, F: The Florida Panthers signed Vrbata to a one-year contract reportedly worth $2.5 million on July 1. He led Arizona in goals (20), assists (35), points (55) and shots on goal (233) last season.

Video: Johnson on Coyotes parting ways with Shane Doan

 
On the cusp 

Dylan Strome, C: The third pick in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Coyotes, Strome got a brief taste of the NHL, playing seven games last season before being returned to juniors. After consecutive seasons of at least 111 points for Erie in the Ontario Hockey League, Strome had 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in 35 games last season, helping Erie advance to the Memorial Cup final. ... Clayton Keller, F: Selected by Arizona with the seventh pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Keller had an excellent rookie season at Boston University, finishing with 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) in 31 games. He had two assists in three games for the Coyotes last season after signing his three-year, entry-level contract on March 26. ... Christian Fischer, F: Fischer, a second-round pick (No. 32) in the 2015 draft, was second on Tucson of the American Hockey League with 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 57 games. He had three goals on 10 shots in seven games for the Coyotes last season.

Video: STL@ARI: Keller gets first point on Goligoski's PPG

 

What they still need 

Proven scoring wing, veteran leadership. The Coyotes lost their top scoring wing, Vrbata, in free agency. Their leading returning scorer from last season is Tobias Rieder, who had 16 goals in 80 games. Arizona will rely heavily on younger forwards Domi, Fischer, Keller and Anthony Duclair for scoring but could use a veteran with a proven track record (perhaps unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek). Arizona also has one of the youngest rosters in the NHL, and the loss of Doan as captain was a big blow in terms of locker room presence. Stepan, Brad Richardson and Jamie McGinn bring some of those intangibles, but the Coyotes will need someone to step up and lead. 

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus 

The Coyotes made trades in the offseason to acquire proven NHL talent (Stepan, Raanta and Hjalmarsson). What does this mean for Ekman-Larsson? It should bring more stability around him in all situations, especially having Hjalmarsson, a fellow Swede and responsible defenseman, to work with on Arizona's top pair. Ekman-Larsson (No. 90 in NHL.com's fantasy rankings) is a potential draft bargain. He should bounce back to at least 50 points and 25 power-play points, and be less of a plus/minus liability.

Video: ARI@NSH: Ekman-Larsson roofs Dvorak's feed for PPG

 

Projected lineup 

Max Domi -- Derek Stepan -- Anthony Duclair

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Clayton Keller

Tobias Rieder -- Dylan Strome -- Christian Fischer

Jordan Martinook -- Brad Richardson -- Jamie McGinn

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Alex Goligoski -- Luke Schenn

Jakob Chychrun -- Adam Clendening

Antti Raanta

Louis Domingue

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