Tag: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Nick Shore, Mike Smith

Arizona Coyotes ’15-16 Outlook


We’ve often seen that teams committed to suppressing offense can often survive even with a lack of traditional talent.

The Arizona Coyotes know that well, as their better days with Dave Tippett included a three-year postseason run that culminated with a loss in the 2012 Western Conference Final.

Of course, that feels like quite a while ago now, as the Coyotes have missed three straight postseasons.

As mentioned in an earlier post, GM Don Maloney believes they can “compete every night” thanks to Tippett’s game plan and subtle (perceived?) improvements to their roster.

Let’s not kid ourselves, either: the Coyotes conveniently shed some key players in what certainly seemed like a tanking attempt to outside observers. It might not always be pretty, but Tippett teams can at least grind their way to competence.

Heck, Mike Smith even managed a .934 save percentage in 12 games during the month of March, so a mild turnaround isn’t a totally outrageous thought.

Light at the end of the tunnel

That said, the real reason to look on the bright side comes in the team’s youth movement, a trend powered in part by the spoils of tanking.

While fans can bask in the glory of blossoming star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson right now, things could really ramp up in a few years. ESPN’s Corey Pronman forecasts a very different stylistic future for the franchise while ranking the farm system fourth overall.

The Coyotes have long been an organization known for its emphasis on defense and goaltending, but the Coyotes have built a truly elite foundation of young forwards coming up the pipeline. Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini, Nick Merkley, and Christian Dvorak, among others, give the Coyotes a ton of projected firepower. Today, the team is known as a boring, trap-and-defend-style club. In five years, the Coyotes could be a run-and-gun team.

Co-owner Anthony LeBlanc backed up Pronman’s sentiment to Yahoo, saying that other league executives are “so envious” of the group they’ve amassed.


Long story short, Arizona might be a little pluckier than its 2014-15 record may suggest.

There’s a bright side even if they flop again, though: that would allow them to beef up their already-impressive prospect pool. It’s as close to a win-win situation as this embattled franchise has seen in some time.

Poll: Will the Coyotes be the worst team in the NHL next season?

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes

Arizona GM Don Maloney thinks his Coyotes are “going to be a better team” than the one that finished 29th overall last year.

In fact, he says they’re “entering the season to be a playoff team.”

“I look at our roster and say, ‘OK, we may not have the most pure talent as some of the teams in the West,” Maloney told NHL.com, “but with a great coach and a great game plan and a stable center ice and a better blue line and solid goaltending, we should be able to compete every night, whether it’s the Chicago Blackhawks or the Stanley Cup champions or the bottom of the Western Conference.”

Others look at Arizona’s roster and wonder how anyone can be so optimistic. Shane Doan is 38 now. Sam Gagner and Keith Yandle, their second- and third-leading scorers from last year, are gone. The goaltending remains a big question mark. Besides Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the blue line isn’t overly impressive. Sure, the Coyotes have some excellent prospects in Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome, but their combined NHL experience is practically nil.

At online bookmaker Bovada, the Coyotes are the longest shot on the board to win the Stanley Cup, at 150/1. The Leafs, Sabres, and Hurricanes are next, each at 100/1.

OK, time to vote.

If you don’t think the Coyotes will be the worst team in the NHL, feel free to add your pick below.

Looking to make the leap: Max Domi

Arizona Coyotes Rookie Camp

How good is Arizona Coyotes prospect Max Domi?

His future Coyotes teammates were raving about him back in January after he scored a highlight-reel goal in the Ontario Hockey League.

“Good hands,” Coyotes’ defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson told Sportsnet.ca. “I’m really excited to see him next year. I thought he had a good training camp, but I think it’s good for him to have another year in the junior league and get ready for next year.”

Domi was in contention to make the leap to the NHL last season, but because GM Don Maloney wanted his team to be competitive, Domi was sent back to junior.

“We need to be a playoff team. That’s what’s going to get people excited and in the building,” Maloney said at the time. “Nobody has an appetite to just throw in the towel.”

Of course, the Coyotes weren’t a playoff team. Not even close.

Domi, meanwhile, went on to captain the OHL’s London Knights, scoring 32 goals and 102 points in 57 games. The 20-year-old also starred on the Canadian world junior team, scoring five goals and five assists in seven games while helping Canada win gold.

“How fast will we see Max? Very soon. He won’t need much more seasoning,” said Coyotes player development coach Steve Sullivan. “Going back to junior was the best thing for him. (It was) probably tough for him to go back, but he has passed it with flying colors.”

The 5-foot-10, 194-pound forward knows he’ll have to be able to adapt to the next level, if he is going to be an NHL regular this season.

“There’s a lot of great junior players that don’t end up playing in the NHL. You don’t want to be one of those guys,” Domi told The Arizona Republic in July. “You gotta make sure you adapt on the fly.

“Obviously, Coach (Dave) Tippett has certain expectations that he holds his players to and if you don’t uphold that, then you’re not going to cut it. You gotta make sure you’re doing everything you can to fit in.”