The Arizona Coyotes experienced changes to so many near-constants during this summer that you almost expected all of their ownership/arena/etc. issues to be settled.
That saga may never end, but the 2017-18 edition of the Coyotes will otherwise look dramatically different than the 2016-17 one that carried on a tradition of struggles.
After serving as head coach since 2009, Dave Tippett is out, making way for Rick Tocchet. To the distaste of many fans, Shane Doan is gone, and the split wasn’t totally amicable. Mike Smith was traded to the Calgary Flames.
Some of that might read as doom-and-gloom, yet the overall picture is of a Coyotes team that took a step forward, and maybe a big one.
The Coyotes now get a gander at Antti Raanta in net, while Derek Stepan becomes their likely top center in that big trade with the Rangers. This move signaled an increase in aggressiveness from Coyotes management, as the seventh pick of the 2017 NHL Draft was part of the package the Rangers received for Raanta and Stepan.
It all stands as a stark contrast from recent years when the Coyotes would accept dead contracts in Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Pronger, and Dave Bolland to get the cap floor and maybe grab an asset or two for their trouble.
Naturally, the Coyotes also hope that prospects such as Dylan Strome may finally make the next step from dominating juniors or the AHL to being NHL contributors.
GM John Chayka’s vision seems like it’s coming in focus, but we’ll find out soon enough if 2017-18 stands as a giant leap forward or something closer to a baby step. PHT will explore the many things that could go wrong or right for the Coyotes on this fine Sunday.