When Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka takes time to evaluate his team’s performance for the 2018-19 season one glaring fact will be obvious.
The Arizona Coyotes weak offence couldn’t score when it mattered, or pretty much the majority of the time.
Ranking 28th In Goals Scored Tells It All
It is always important to defend well and have good goaltending. However, if you don’t score enough goals to win vital games your path to the playoffs is doomed. Scoring 2.56 goals per game with one game remaining in the season is just not going to do it.
20-Goal Scorer is Needed
The Arizona Coyotes are the only NHL team who will more than likely finish the season without one 20-goal scorer on their roster. While two players, Alex Galchenyuk and Brad Richardson have 18, they both need two goals in their final game Saturday to reach that plateau.
It is almost a certainty that Chayka will be looking for scoring anywhere he can find it over the offseason and in the draft.
He thought he had a good candidate when he acquired centre Nick Schmalz but when the talented player went down for the season with a leg injury that theory was shot. Schmaltz managed just 17 games in a Coyotes uniform while the two players he was traded for saw excellent success in Chicago.
Still, Chayka showed his confidence in Schmaltz when he signed him to a seven-year extension worth $5.85 million AAV. At that price, he had better be a 20-goal scorer.
Breaking Down The Offensive Failures
The Coyotes power play definitely failed them this season. Ranking 26th with just a 16.1 percent success rate shows their offensive weakness did them in for the season. When one examines the top 10 teams with the best power play success it’s not rocket science to see nine of them are going to be playing for the Cup.
Perhaps some offensive coaching changes are in order. More than likely the failures on offence need to addressed by acquiring one or two players who can light the lamp on a regular basis.
There were some encouraging signs from players like Vinnie Hinostroza who really progressed this season offensively. Through 71 games he has 16 goals and 22 assists including three power-play tallies and three games winners.
Another player who seemed to catch fire was Richard Panik. He was rumoured to be moved at the trade deadline but that didn’t happen. Chayka will have a decision to make on whether to keep Panik on the roster or make a move.
Clayton Keller really did not perform up to expectations. He had some unproductive games where he was invisible. In his last 30 games, he only had three goals and nine assists. That comes to 0.40 points per game while his first 51 games he collected 0.65 points per game. Perhaps it is his sophomore jinx but he still is leading the team in scoring.
Who Chaka Could Look to Fill The Gap
There is a long list of offensive players who could help the Coyotes lack of firepower. Just consider a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He collected 28 goals, 39 assists on the Edmonton Oilers who did not make the playoffs. With players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scoring 90 goals between them, RNH may be expendable.
He can also hope that his surprise fifth overall selection from last year’s draft, Barrett Hayton can be ready to play in the NHL next season. He collected 26 goals and 40 assists in just 39 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He then added 10 points in five playoff games.
While he may not instantly be an NHL 20-goal scorer he is a decent two-way player and should get a look next season.
Other than the endless rumours of Phil Kessel being traded, Chayka needs to come up with a formula for success for this team.
They got close, but that doesn’t mean a thing until you get there.
The Arizona Coyotes weak offence needs to be addressed. They need to break the spell of no playoff appearances for seven seasons.