(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
The Arizona Coyotes embark on the 2021 regular season Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks.
Arizona spent the offseason hitting the hard reset button with a new general manager at the helm and a few notable departures to go along with a few new faces on the ice.
Of those who left the team was left winger Taylor Hall, who takes with him his playmaking abilities and 16 goals (10 with Arizona) from a season prior.
The Coyotes will need to figure out how to fill the void left behind by Hall, but luckily have a solid goaltender department behind the three-headed monster of Darcy Kuemper, Antti Raanta and Adin Hill.
The team’s ability to protect the net was highlighted in most NHL power rankings heading into the season. Taking a step forward offensively will certainly move the Coyotes up the ranks.
Arizona Coyotes Power Rankings
ESPN — 24
The Coyotes struggled with scoring last season (ranking 23rd in the league), but they said goodbye to six forwards this offseason and welcomed in six new forwards. In this case, fresh faces are definitely not a bad thing.
Bleacher Report — 26
The Coyotes ended a seven-year playoff drought by beating the Nashville Predators to earn the right to lose to the Colorado Avalanche in five games. The exit of Taylor Hall via free agency means it’s star-turn time for young winger Clayton Keller, who’s scored 23, 14 and 17 goals in three seasons.
NBC Sports — 24
Love the goalies, but where is the offense going to come from?
Sportsnet — 23
As the Coyotes reset under new GM Bill Armstrong, coach Rick Tocchet’s solid structure remains in place. If the injury luck of starter Darcy Kuemper improves, this team — though still offensively challenged — is going to be a tough out.
The Score — 25
We know the Coyotes are good at keeping goals out, but they’ve always struggled to score them. Whether Phil Kessel has a bounce-back season or Clayton Keller shows some serious progression, this club needs someone to step up and carry the offensive load. The fourth playoff spot in the West Division is very much there for the taking.
The Action Network — 29
The West Division projects to be quite top-heavy. Colorado is the Stanley Cup Favorite at +700. Vegas is right behind them at +1000. The St. Louis Blues are just one season removed from winning the Cup and had the best record in the West in 2019-20.
The likely scenario is that those three teams grab one of the four playoff spots in the West Division, leaving one spot for Minnesota, Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles and San Jose.
Yahoo! Sports — 27
There was a lot of turmoil surrounding the Coyotes this off-season. GM John Chayka is gone, captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson was nearly traded, they had to forfeit draft picks for breaking combine rules and they didn’t really make a significant addition to the roster. Yes, the ‘Yotes beat Nashville in the play-in round in 2020, but they actually finished 11th in the Western Conference. Don’t be surprised if it’s a tough year in the desert.