Arizona Coyotes ranked 31st by ESPN in 1st power rankings
It’s going to be a transition year for the Arizona Coyotes in the 2021-22 season. There’s practically no choice for it not to be after the offseason they had.
Arizona lost both of its top goalies in Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, defenseman and captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, forward Conor Garland and top-four defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Alex Goligoski.
General manager Bill Armstrong turned those players into a wealth of draft picks that has the Coyotes set to be a force in the coming years if they can hit on those selections. But for now, it’s bleak this season, with little to no meaningful additions coming in to replace those names.
ESPN’s first power rankings came out for the season and have the Coyotes at second-to-last in 31st.
In the “best case scenario” that ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has for Arizona, it’s a whole lot that needs to go right.
Carter Hutton and Josef Korenar are multitudes better than expectations, which currently have them as the worst goalie tandem in the NHL entering the season. The offense produces better than the 2.68 goals per game it did last season. New head coach André Tourigny unlocks something in this roster that isn’t evident at the moment, finding a chemistry that exceeds its potential on paper. But even then, the Coyotes’ move to the Central Division means a logjam of better teams ahead of them.
And there could be more movement to come. As Wyshynski outlines, the Coyotes have only seven players under contract for beyond this season.
The lone team below the Coyotes is the Buffalo Sabres.
ESPN’s top-3, respectively, is the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights.
Arizona’s season kicks off on Thursday at 4 p.m. in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. You can hear that season opener on ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2.