Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Arizona Coyotes
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Whoa. That’s a nice shift in personnel. Upgrading Galchenyuk to Kessel should add one or two goals (ya think?). And Soderberg certainly upgrades the offense that Panik brought. Together they give the team a legitimate first line with Kessel, and a real good third line with Soderberg. The power play gets a jump start too, of course. A healthy and successful return from goaltender Antti Raanta would get this team back on the right path.
Kessel’s presence should upgrade Derek Stepan’s production to at least (former Kessel sidekick) Tyler Bozak levels and inject life back into future stud Clayton Keller. It also gives the second line more breathing room, and I’ve already commented on the improved third line. Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer and Conor Garland all stand to benefit from the trickle-down effect here. And PP quarterback Oliver Ekman-Larsson can enjoy his time on the power play again. The 28-year-old Ekman-Larsson had 19 PPPts and it is the third consecutive season that he failed to hit 20 after posting 29 back in 2015-16.
Ready for full-time – The NHL roster seems to be set. The Coyotes have 12 established forwards and seven established defensemen. They will need another player, but only for a depth role. But that’s not to say a prospect couldn’t steal a spot and of course injuries always come into play.
The top hopeful is their top prospect Barrett Hayton. The ‘Yotes may have reached when they drafted Hayton fifth overall last summer, but they’re looking good for it now. He nearly made the team a year ago, and upon returning to the OHL he dominated with the third-highest points-per-game average in the league. If he makes the team, there is still a good chance he gets sent back to junior before the 10-game cutoff or the second cutoff (40 games). But long-term he could wind up being the face of the franchise. (Read up on Hayton here)
Kyle Capobianco made a huge impression last year, at times leading Tucson in scoring and among the AHL leaders on the blue line. He was called up to the NHL but tore his ACL in the second game, taking him out for the season. In what amounted to about half of an AHL season, Capobianco finished 29th in AHL scoring among defensemen. Because of the lengthy rehab, he may begin the year in the AHL, but a quick recall could be in the cards. (Read up on Capobianco here)
Arizona Coyotes prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The difference between three lines that can score versus what was ‘maybe’ two lines is a big one. And Soderberg really makes a difference on that third line. If Vinnie Hinostroza takes another step forward and Clayton Keller rebounds, Arizona will be sneaky-good. Throw in a healthy (big if) goaltender like Antti Raanta and these Coyotes could be in the playoff hunt late into March. Let’s not forget that last year this team was shut out of three of the first four games of the season, scoring just three goals in the first five!
Injuries will play a huge role for this team, more so than usual because it is unproven and not very deep. The latter reality means that owning an unproven young player or prospect in the organization holds fantasy value, because there will be more opportunity. On defense, the team really needs Jakob Chychrun to stay healthy, and that has been a struggle throughout his tenure as a pro. Because Oliver Ekman-Larsson (44) was the only player to exceed 27 points from the blue line in 2018-19. But the bottom line from a fantasy standpoint is – no player on this team reached 48 points last season, so let’s jump that hurdle first before we get ahead of ourselves.
Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was C)
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Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades