Last Word on Hockey is bringing you its Black Aces Series, covering every team in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. Recently the NHL owners and NHLPA agreed to an expanded playoff format to finish the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup. There will be 24 teams participating as opposed to the normal 16 teams. Today, we feature the Arizona Coyotes Black Aces.
Who Are The Arizona Coyotes Black Aces?
The term “Black Ace” was once used in a negative way. The term originated from Eddie Shore who would refer to spare players as a “Black Ace”. Shore would say that a team would be in bad shape if they had to use one of their Black Aces in a game. However, recently, it has been used in a more positive way. A team would use a Black Ace to help them overcome the loss of a player or if they thought a different player could be utilized in a way to help the team win. So who are the Arizona Coyotes Black Aces?
The Arizona Coyotes have a good selection of forwards to choose from for their Black Aces. With about six to include, let’s go through the possibilities.
Burke, a 5′-10″, 165 pound left-wing is 23-years-old and was in his third season playing for the Coyotes AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners. He improved from his 2017-18 season when he tallied 13 goals and 20 assists in 67 games. His statistics over 51 games this shortened season display his improving play. He was able to gather 21 goals (including 13 power-play goals) and 31 assists, which led the team. Burke burst into the AHL ranks after scoring 31 goals and 82 assists with the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors. He then collected 21 points in 14 playoff games.
The Coyotes can always use more scoring, and if an injury happens on the wing, Burke may be ready to show the NHL what he can do.
Michael Bunting, 24 has performed well with the Roadrunners in the AHL and this season he participated in 58 games. He added 12 goals and 37 assists to finish second in scoring on the team. Bunting would be a good fill-in player even though he has only played in five NHL games collecting one goal. He’s been in the Coyotes system since he was drafted 117th in the 2014 draft. He could be one of the forwards the Coyotes select as a Black Ace.
Michael Chaput is a veteran minor league player who is now 28-years-old. He was called up to fill in when injuries hit the Coyotes this season. He played in two games with no points. So, he is accustomed to the role of a player who steps in when needed. This season showed him gathering 16 goals and 13 assists good for 29 points in 47 games.
Pederson, 22 is still attempting to break into the NHL and after having a decent AHL season with 16 goals and 18 assists in 37 games. Pederson is a possible Black Ace for the Coyotes. He had four power-play goals, and that type of scoring would help the Coyotes meagre offence. He went undrafted and the Coyotes grabbed him. He’s hoping to show his worth with his contract expiring this year, making him a restricted free agent. If he can get into a game he may get that chance.
Beau Bennett, 28 has the NHL experience which may help his chances at being a Coyotes’ Black Aces member. He’s had stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and St. Louis Blues. That background may qualify him to be more stable and reliable as a Black Ace. In the AHL this season he collected 12 goals and 28 assists in 55 games. His NHL background shows he has played in 200 games with 24 goals and 20 assists. Experience matters and that could give Bennett a big advantage. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Andy Miele, 32 has to be a candidate for the Black Aces merely from his experience and background. His size of 5′-7″, 170 pounds has held him back, yet he is not afraid to go to the dirty spots on the ice. During his extensive AHL career, he has had 400 minutes in the penalty box. He is more of a set-up man than a scorer, but he can do that as well. In the AHL he has an impressive scoring record. In 478 games he has tabulated 134 goals and 282 assists, good for 416 points. His NHL experience shows he only appeared in 15 games, collecting two assists. Again, his size may be a detriment, but the Coyotes have had good fortune with Conor Garland, who is of similar size.
Kyle Capobianco, 22 has to be on the top of the list for defencemen on their Black Aces squad. He has been called up when injuries mounted on the Coyotes’ roster and has shown he can play at the NHL level. While only appearing in nine NHL contests, he is looked upon as a D-man the Coyotes think has a future with the team. In 135 AHL games, he has 19 goals and 80 assists to his credit. He is a smooth skater and knows how to pass the puck to his forwards. With the bad luck the Coyotes have had on the blue line, Capobianco has a good shot at being the anchor defender on their Black Aces.
Aaron Ness, 30 has proven his worth when he led the entire AHL during the 2018-19 season with five goals and 50 assists in 71 games. The Coyotes management noticed and he participated in 24 NHL games this season, showing one assist. Along with Capobianco, Ness looks to be included in the Black Aces group. He is another good puck-moving defenceman with excellent passing ability. If the Coyotes have another defenceman fall to injury, having Ness available will be commendable.
Söderström has received high marks in his development and he is pegged to be promoted to the AHL Tucson Roadrunners next season. So, why not see what the kid can do in the NHL? It may be too much for the young man who is just 19-years-old. Yet, as a gifted skater who is dangerous in all three zones, the Coyotes have got to be intrigued by his abilities.
This is an easy selection as Adin Hill has progressed into a good backup as evidenced by his 10-12-3 NHL record carrying a .907 save percentage along with a 2.81 goals-against-average. With both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta experiencing injury woes, Hill stepped in admirably to defend the net. He could be the future in goal for the team. With the playoffs needing strong goaltending, Hill can fill the void should there be one. He is also a restricted free agent after this season, so he needs to be signed.
The Russian, 21 has shown promise in net and the Coyotes are excited to see him advance in his development. The way the team loses goaltenders to injury, it may not be a bad idea to have both Hill and Prosvetov available. One thing this pandemic delay has caused is injured players have healed, and for someone like Raanta, that’s good news. Prosvetov is another lanky (6′-5″, 176 pounds) goalie that the Coyotes have drafted. He can be a good one, and if needed it is certain he will perform.
The Arizona Coyotes Black Aces will have an opportunity… if conditions prevail to show what they’ve got under the pressure of playoff-like games. Which players will take that opportunity (if it arises) and use it to the best of their ability?
Young players just want a chance. Playing in stressful games which could decide if the team gets into the 16-team playoff series, that’s the kind of pressure which can catapult them into the NHL to stay.
The Arizona Coyotes Black Aces are ready.
Let the games begin!