It’s been five long years since the Arizona Coyotes made the playoffs. If you look at the way their 2016-17 season went, you’d think they probably aren’t close to ending that drought either.
Only two teams finished below Arizona in the standings (Colorado and Vancouver), three teams scored less often than them and only Colorado and Dallas gave up more goals.
For a veteran like Mike Smith, who’s been with the organization throughout these lean years, the situation surrounding the Coyotes is becoming more frustrating.
“It sucks. It’s the NHL. You play to play in the playoffs. When you’re out of the playoffs for five years in a row, I think it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Smith told AZ Central.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
The 35-year-old has played in 19 NHL playoff games throughout his career with 16 of those coming with the ‘Yotes in 2012.
On the bright side, the Coyotes are stacked with quality young players. Max Domi, Tobias Rieder, Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Anthony Duclair, Jakub Chychrun and Anthony DeAngelo all have terrific upside. Unfortunately for veterans like Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Shane Doan, we don’t know how long it’ll take before those youngsters come together to form a competitive team.
Adding quality veterans could help speed up the rebuilding process.
“We need to add some more veteran pieces,” added Smith. “It’s tough to compete in this league, especially in our division against veteran clubs that have been together for a long time. You throw a lot of kids in the lineup, even though they have improved drastically over the season, it’s tough to win on any given night with as many young players we have in the lineup.”
With captain Shane Doan still undecided about his playing future and Radim Vrbata set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, GM John Cheyka may have to invest a good amount of coin to bring in older players from other teams.