Coyotes’ Chayka is confident in future of the team’s core
In salvaging the second half of the season, Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka has had a proper chance to analyze the state of the team.
The Coyotes have put together a record of 15-10-6 since the turn of the calendar, giving fans and personnel a glimpse of the team’s potential when its key players come together.
“With some of the core we have, we’ve got seven, eight players we think can be part of a Stanley Cup team. We need to add to that, it’s what we’re after,” Chayka told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “Now it’s my job to surround those guys with the proper pros and supplement them with the proper skillsets to let those guys grow and blossom into what we think they can become.”
At 19 years old, the centerpiece of the Coyotes’ core is rookie Clayton Keller. He leads Arizona with 55 points, broke the team’s rookie points record on Wednesday and is among the top first-year players in the league.
Though there have been flashes that warrant optimism, the Coyotes’ playoff drought has now reached six seasons and the team will likely own a top-five pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Keeping the core intact
While Chayka continues to evaluate the roster, some players might use the final nine games of the year as an opportunity to gain a larger role next season. For others, it could be a tryout to go elsewhere.
As the rebuild continues, one position Arizona hopes it won’t have to fill is goaltender.
The Coyotes acquired Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers last offseason. In 41 starts, he’s had a respectable showing as the starting goalie with a record of 17-16-6 while allowing 2.37 goals per game.
Raanta turns 29 following the season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. With a decision looming, there is still a large window of time between the end of the season and free agency beginning.
“I don’t think there’s a need to go to free agency, but we’re still working a way on it,” Chayka told Doug & Wolf.