Coyotes Are on The Rise
By Patrick Hoffman
**Originally Drafted on June 14**
The Arizona Coyotes have been a terrible team since last making the postseason in 2012.
That season, they made the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual Cup winner Los Angeles Kings. It was an unbelievable season as a whole and one that got Coyotes fans very excited for the future.
Up to this point, things have been absolutely awful. From losing seasons, to attendance issues, to not making the playoffs in six years, everything that could go wrong for this franchise has.
With all that said, however, things may actually be looking up for this club. After getting off to a horrendous start, they were actually pretty decent in the second half of the season.
For starters, they got tremendous goaltending from Antti Raanta. Raanta posted a GAA of 2.24, had a .930 save percentage, and also had picked-up three shutouts.The team also got a great performance from rookie Clayton Keller. Keller finished the season with 65 points (23 goals and 42 assists), played in all kinds of situations for the team, and really earned the trust of head coach Rick Tocchet.
The team further improved recently when it was reported that they came to terms with franchise defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. According to TSN, the Coyotes and their star agreed to an eight-year deal worth over $8 million per season.
This was something the Coyotes had to do. Ekman-Larsson, 26, has been a loyal soldier for the team since coming into the league in 2010-11, has posted solid offensive numbers and despite being a +/- - 28 last season, has been the club's most consistent player for several years.
I'm not saying this team is going to make the playoffs next year. However, that should not matter at this point for this hockey club.
This franchise needs to keep moving in the right direction by drafting the right way, finding a consistent system to play throughout their whole organization, and by getting their fans interested in their team.
If the Coyotes can do all these things, they could find themselves back in the postseason within the next three years or so and by then, be a team that will be extremely tough to play against on a nightly basis.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.