The Arizona Coyotes are in full-blown tank mode. As such, they’ve got the worst Stanley Cup odds of any team in the league at +20000, tied with the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Ottawa Senators.
As bleak as things look to begin the season, there is plenty of reason for optimism surrounding the team’s future. Still, the 2021-22 season already has the potential to be one of the ugliest years for any team in the modern era.
How Historically Bad Could it Get?
The NHL record for fewest points in an 82-game regular season belongs to the 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers, their first season as an expansion franchise. That Thrashers team won just 14 games, losing 57 in regulation four times in overtime and tying seven times for a season total of 39 points. The lowest point total goes to the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who were also in their expansion season; the Capitals finished 8-67-5 (21 points).
According to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, Arizona is projected to finish between 65-75 points, with almost no chance of being above 80 points. Per this model, the Coyotes have a 1% chance of even making the playoffs and an almost 0% of making it past the first round, let alone to the Stanley Cup.
Vegas’ over/under point total for the Coyotes this season is set at 67.5, with the over at -125 and the under at +105. While this is considerably better than either of those two totals, Arizona has made no effort to hide that they are bottoming out.
Because of that, several players currently on Arizona’s roster likely won’t be by the end of the season. The Coyotes have 13 pending unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents on the team, not including one more of each currently on injured reserve. Players like Phil Kessel, Anton Strålman, and Carter Hutton could be traded at or before the deadline, adding to Arizona’s draft arsenal.
Is There Hope for the Future?
Yes, but it also won’t come with much relief next season. Arizona is looking at yet another multi-year rebuilding operation, but this one at least seems to have some sense of direction.
As of writing, the Coyotes have three first-round picks and five second-round picks in the 2022 Draft. With the trade pieces listed above, Arizona could add to their already stacked pool of picks. The Coyotes also had one first-rounder and three second-rounders in 2021 to restock the prospect cupboard.
Dylan Guenther, Arizona’s first-round pick in 2021, nearly made the team out of training camp. However, Arizona realized it would be better for his development to spend one more season in the WHL before a likely call-up next season. Guenther was also an alternate captain for Canada’s U18 Juniors team last season as a bonafide scorer with an explosive shot. He also has three points in five games to begin this OHL season.
Furthermore, the Coyotes are projected to have roughly $51 million in cap room after this season. With the entry-level deals capped at $925,000, Arizona will need to sign at least a few players or take on more bad contracts for draft picks. If Arizona decides to go all-in on free agents this summer, they could be right back in the playoff mix for 2022-23.