Why ARI eliminated

The Arizona Coyotes failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Arizona (30-37-5) was eliminated when the Vegas Golden Knights gained a point in a 5-4 overtime loss at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

The Coyotes have qualified for the postseason once since they reached the Western Conference Final in 2012. They lost to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round in 2020 after defeating the Predators in four games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Here is a look at what happened in the 2023-24 season for the Coyotes and why things could be better next season.

The skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Liam O'Brien, F; Joshua Brown, D; Travis Dermott, D

Potential restricted free agents: Barrett Hayton, F; Sean Durzi, D; Juuso Valimaki, D; Michael Kesselring, D; J.J. Moser, D

Potential 2024 Draft picks: 13

What went wrong

Dry spell: On New Year's Day, Arizona held the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with a 19-14-2 record and a manageable eight points behind the Dallas Stars for third in the Central Division, giving fans reasons to be excited. Since Feb. 5, the Coyotes are tied with the San Jose Sharks for the most losses in the NHL (7-15-2), rank 30th in points percentage (.333) and have dropped 21 points back of the second wild card. Arizona lost 14 straight games (0-12-2) from Jan. 24-Feb. 29, including not winning a game in February (0-9-2).

Offensive omission: Clayton Keller has scored at least 30 goals for a second straight season, but the 25-year-old forward needsĀ  help if the Coyotes wish to take positive steps. Keller has 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 68 games, 11 more than the next closest teammate, forward Nick Schmaltz (52 points; 20 goals, 32 assists). Keller has 15 more points than forward Matias Maccelli (48 points; 12 goals, 36 assists), and 22 more than center Nick Bjugstad (41 points; 19 goals, 22 assists). Arizona is averaging 2.93 goals per game, 22nd in the NHL, and are 24th with a minus-23 goal differential.

Road weary: The Coyotes are 19-17-0 at Mullett Arena, their temporary home on the campus of Arizona State University, but have struggled mightily on the road (11-20-5). Their 11 road wins are tied with the Ottawa Senators for the fourth-fewest in the NHL, and they rank last in road winning percentage in one-goal games (.167).

Reasons for optimism

Cooley is a keeper: Logan Cooley, the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, has had an impressive rookie season. The 19-year-old center is fifth among NHL rookies with 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 72 games. He's averaging 15:49 of ice time and ranks eighth among first-year forwards with 26 takeaways. Few will forget the highlight-reel goal Cooley scored in his first NHL action for the Coyotes against the Los Angeles Kings in Melbourne, Australia, when he eluded three defenders with a spin-o-rama move before pulling the puck back to his forehand for a goal in a 5-3 win as part of the 2023 Global Series -- Melbourne on Sept. 23.

The draft: Arizona has invested in picks to fuel its rebuild. It had 12 last year, including two in the first round (defenseman Dmitriy Simashev, No. 6; forward Daniil But, No. 12), and has 13 in the 2024 NHL Draft, including seven in the opening three rounds. The Coyotes have their own first-round pick this year, which could be the No. 1 selection and the right to select projected top forward prospect Macklin Celebrini of Boston University. Arizona has never picked No. 1; it has selected at No. 3 on three occasions.

Youngsters on the rise: Arizona's future appears bright with the players it already has in the lineup and its pipeline. Maccelli, 23, has already set an NHL career high in goals (12), and 20-year-old forward Dylan Guenther, the No. 9 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, has 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 35 games. Defenseman Michael Kesselring, 24, has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists), 93 hits, 45 blocked shots and has averaged 15:16 of ice time in 55 games as a rookie. Forward Josh Doan, 22, scored twice in his NHL debut, a 6-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, after being recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League. He was Tucson's top scorer this season with 46 points (26 goals, 20 assists) in 62 games. A second-round pick (No. 37) in the 2021 draft, he's the son of Coyotes franchise scoring leader and longtime captain Shane Doan. Forward Conor Geekie, the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft, has 99 points (43 goals) in 55 games with Wenatchee (26 games) and Swift Current (29) of the Western Hockey League.