ARIZONA COYOTES

Chayka: Offensive production needs to improve for Coyotes next season

Apr 10, 2019, 1:47 PM

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)...

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A strong 2018-19 season for the Arizona Coyotes didn’t come without its faults.

Injuries aside, the Coyotes’ lack of offense was the biggest reason for the team missing the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

Coyotes general manager John Chayka on Wednesday joined Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and said the team will need to improve offensively if Arizona is to become a contender next season.

The Coyotes averaged just 2.55 goals per game, tied for 28th in the NHL.

“We didn’t score enough goals, so we have to go through and figure out how to get more out of our own group and how to add to the group and that’s the summer plan,” Chayka said.

It’s not certain yet how the Coyotes will improve offensively, but Chayka offered several suggestions.

One expectation is that several players who missed time to injury will stay healthy and be able to develop better chemistry.

The Coyotes’ top two goal scorers this season — Brad Richardson and Alex Galchenyuk — missed 16 and 10 games, respectively.

Nick Schmaltz, who the Coyotes traded former top pick Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to Chicago for early in the season, played in just 17 games before suffering a season-ending injury.

Other forwards who missed extended time included Michael Grabner, Christian Dvorak and Derek Stepan.

“Part of it is the injuries and understanding the impact of them,” Chayka said. “How does that affect the team chemistry, how does that affect your ability to put out lineups that have some chemistry and have some time to jell together and find that offensive ability?”

The Coyotes might just need to find more talented offensive players.

Arizona was the only team not to have a player reach the 20-goal mark or 50-point mark.

Richardson’s 19 goals shattered a career high and at age 34, he probably isn’t going to maintain a high level of offensive success moving forward.

The Coyotes’ leading scorer, Clayton Keller, had 14 goals and 33 assists this season, down from the 23 goals and 42 assists he put up in 2017-18.

Arizona typically isn’t a big spender in free agency and has most of its roster locked up for next season, but Chayka wouldn’t rule out adding goal scorers in the offseason.

Some of the top free agent forwards include Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jordan Eberle and Jeff Skinner.

“There’s always opportunity to add and I think that’s what this summer is about,” Chayka said. “In the past, it’s always been about different acquisitions we’ve made.

“We’ve made multiple moves and this summer, I think we’re looking at it like ‘are we a few key positions and key players away from moving up and being a contending team?’ and I think our general consensus right now is that is the case.”

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