Coyotes GM Armstrong excited about Logan Cooley-Dylan Guenther fit

Jan 13, 2024, 4:15 PM

Clayton Keller...

Clayton Keller #9 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Nick Schmaltz #8, Dylan Guenther #11 and Sean Durzi #50 after Keller scored a a power-play goal against the Boston Bruins during the second period of the NHL game at Mullett Arena on January 09, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With Dylan Guenther’s ability to finish, Logan Cooley’s playmaking and Nick Bjugstad’s veteran savvy, the Arizona Coyotes are encouraged by their third line going into the second half of the season.

Guenther, 20, came up from AHL Tucson last weekend and has stayed in the NHL after forward Jason Zucker returned from a suspension, signaling he earned a role for the time being. He produced three points in his first two games, including a goal off a Cooley, 19, assist Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.

“If you can get three lines that are producing in the National Hockey League, you get a chance to win every single night,” general manager Bill Armstrong told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “I feel like with Bjugstad, that older veteran who can transport the puck safely up the ice, Guenther’s got a heck of a shot and Cooley can make some plays, I feel like they complement each other. I think Bjugstad calms them down and I think they can help us in the second half produce some offense from that line. So I’m excited about watching those guys together.”

The halfway point of the season is Saturday night, as the Coyotes play Game 41 at the Minnesota Wild.

Guenther and Cooley were first-rounders in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The former made his NHL debut last season and stood out, as head coach Andre Tourigny told reporters this past week Guenther was featured heavily on tape of what went right in 2022-23. He played 29 games for the Roadrunners before playing the last three games for the Coyotes.

“One of the biggest things we wanted to make sure he had improved, he had taken that step of being stronger, being more consistent and we felt after watching the first three games he was good,” Armstrong said. “He gives Cooley a running mate, they’re compatible and play well together. We also felt he had good put in his time in the (AHL), and he had done some things we asked him to improve. He came up with a boatload of confidence. He showed some really great signs taking that next step being an everyday NHL player and we’re excited about his progress.”

Armstrong explained the benefits of keeping pairs together even as lines get adjusted, such as Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller or Lawson Crouse and Matias Maccelli. He pointed to Guenther being a fit to complement Cooley going forward.

Will the Coyotes buy or sell at the deadline?

The Coyotes are in a crowded wild card picture entering the halfway point of the season. The All-Star break is next month, and the trade deadline is fewer than two months out on March 8.

There have been notable ups and downs for a young team building after three years of no playoffs, and this past 1-4 homestand was a low point after winning six of seven games. But the Coyotes are still only three points off the second wild card spot entering Saturday’s slate of games.

What does that mean for the trade deadline? That’s to be determined.

“Our guys will determine that by how hard they fight and what position we’re in whether we’re buyers or sellers at the deadline,” Armstrong said. “That’s up to the group on hand and I’ve been transparent about that with them. They’ll determine their fate and whether we’re improving the team or we’re trading guys.”

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