When it was announced that Seattle was awarded an expansion franchise in late 2018, realignment was the next logical step in creating four divisions of eight teams each. Considering travel, time zones, and rivalries, it was deduced by NHL management that the Arizona Coyotes should move to the Central Division starting in the 2021-22 season. This allows the Seattle team to join the Pacific Division.
Can the Arizona Coyotes Survive in the Central Division?
As it currently stands, the Coyotes have played their Pacific Division rival 29 times during the season, while playing against the Central Division 21 times. That amounts to 61 percent of their total games during the season.
While some like Clayton Keller is looking forward to it since he grew up in the St. Louis area, that is just a personal feeling on his part. How will the Coyotes compete in a tougher division? Good question.
Let’s explore how the Coyotes have done against both divisions to see.
Season Vs Central Total Points Win Ptg Vs Pacific Total Points Win Ptg
16-17 5-15-1 11 26% 12-12-5 29 50%
17-18 7-12-2 16 38% 10-12-7 27 46.6%
18-19 11-9-1 23 54.8% 16-10-3 35 60.3%
Totals 23-36-4 50 39.6% 38-34-15 91 52.3%
It’s clear to see that the team does much better against Pacific Division foes than those teams in the Central Division. It can be estimated that they will lose about seven or eight points if their winning percentage continues when they are switched to the Central.
Now, that may or may not be a huge factor when determining the team’s success at the end of the 2021-22 season. Yet, last season the Arizona club lost out in making the playoffs by four points. Plus there’s nothing they can do about it except maybe play better against the Central Division teams since they will play them more often.
They have improved a bit this season. The Coyotes have a much more respectable record against the Central with a 7-5-1 record thus far. In fact, had they been part of the Central Division this season they’d be in fourth place with 57 points. As opposed to fifth in the Pacific where they currently reside.
Central Division Foes Record
When one examines the new division foes that the Coyotes will face, it can be analyzed how they’ve done thus far, dating back to the 2016-17 season. Against the Chicago Blackhawks, they are 6-4 over the last three seasons including the current campaign. Against the Colorado Avalanche, they are 5-4-2. When facing the Dallas Stars they are a dubious 1-8-1. Against the Minnesota Wild, the Yotes have a 4-8 record. Games versus the Nashville Predators they are 6-4-1. When playing against the reigning Stanley Cup champs St. Louis Blues they are 6-4-1. And finally, versus the Winnipeg Jets, the Desert Dogs have gone 3-7.
The Argument to Move the Coyotes to the Central Division
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made his statement to NHL.com about the pluses of moving the Coyotes to the Central Division.