Projecting the Coyotes Playoff Chances Next Season

(Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)

(Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)

Only 12 teams with a negative goal differential have made the playoffs since the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, which is a sample size of nine seasons. Over that time 144 playoff spots were available, therefore a team with a negative goal differential made the playoffs only eight percent of the time.

Playoff teams with negative goal differentials since 2005-06

YearTeamGoal DifferentialConference StandingResult
2005-06Tampa Bay Lightning-88Lost in Quarterfinals
2005-06Montreal Canadiens-47Lost in Quarterfinals
2006-07Tampa Bay Lightning-87Lost in Quarterfinals
2007-08Boston Bruins-108Lost in Quarterfinals
2008-09Columbus Blue Jackets-47Lost in Quarterfinals
2008-09New York Rangers-87Lost in Quarterfinals
2009-10Montreal Canadiens-68Lost in Quarterfinals
2009-10Ottawa Senators-135Lost in Quarterfinals
2011-12Washington Capitals-87Lost in Quarterfinals
2011-12Florida Panthers-243 (SE Division)Lost in Quarterfinals
2012-13Minnesota Wild-58Lost in Quarterfinals
2013-14Detroit Red Wings-88 (Wildcard)Lost in Quarterfinals


As you can see amongst these teams none of them were able to advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last season the Phoenix Coyotes had a minus 15 goal differential with 216 goals for and 231 goals against. This had them finish only two points out of a playoff spot behind the Dallas Stars after their late season collapse.

Coyotes scoring projections

I have made projections for each player that played a game for the Coyotes in terms of how many goals they will contribute next season. To do this I looked at their games played, goals, shots and total shooting percentage over the past three seasons. Based on no changes to the roster I project that the Coyotes will score 199 goals next season.

These projections are based on current Coyotes and the assumption that they will either be resigned or a similar level of production will be attained by a replacement player. The biggest impact would be losing Radim Vrbata whom I have projected to score 26 goals next season.

I also looked at the goaltenders minutes played, shots against and goals against over the past three seasons. With these numbers I have projected that the Coyotes will allow 201 goals next season. While this is an improved goal differential at minus three it will still keep the Coyotes as a team fighting an uphill battle to make the post season.

Thomas Greiss was always a solid back-up in San Jose, and has continued to do that same job with Phoenix this season. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Thomas Greiss was always a solid back-up in San Jose, and has continued to do that same job with Phoenix this season. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

It is very likely that Thomas Greiss will not be returning to the Coyotes next season as he looks for a chance to be a starting net minder. Using the same logic I project that a tandem of Mike Smith and Mark Visentin, or similar skill level back up, will allow 210 goals next season. That widens their differential to minus 11 next year.

What is the priority for the offseason?

It is clear that the Coyotes need either need a prospect to step up and contribute or they will have to seek an upgrade in scoring via trade or free agency. Without question the wider the goal differential the better, but if the Coyotes can acquire another 20 plus goal scorer they will be in much better position to compete for a playoff spot.

Perhaps Zbynek Michalek’s brother Milan Michalek of the Ottawa Senators could be convinced to sign a contract to play in the desert. He should be a 25-30 goal contributor per season playing alongside Mike Ribeiro.

This acquisition along with potential contributions for their own prospects such as Brandon Gormley, Max Domi, etc. could push them back into competing for a spot in the second round.

Could the conclusion be drawn that the Coyotes need to upgrade their scoring be made without all these projections? Yes of course they could.

However the numbers very clearly illustrate that a negative goal differential team has an extremely slim chance of even making the playoffs. I am sure this is at the top of Coyotes general manager Don Maloney’s shopping list this offseason.

Counting on production from young guns?

See the charts below for the projections discussed above. Granted for younger players that have not played many NHL games it skews their results. However these types of players should never be expected to contribute to a certain level. It is always a big risk to take for any NHL general manager to count on immediate production from unproven NHL players.

Max Domi

(Terry Wilson/OHL Images.)

I wholeheartedly agree that players like Max Domi and Brandon Gormley are expected to crack the Coyotes lineup next year and make a valued contribution. However with no track record in the NHL even the surest of prospects must have question marks and not be plan A when it comes to projecting an NHL lineup.

Radim Vrbata1916760111.1%3.190.1%7423226
Shane Doan1965852211.1%2.792.5%7620222
Antione Vermette2124840012.0%1.9100.0%8215519
Mike Ribeiro2024731514.9%1.695.3%7812218
Mikkel Boedker2123733511.0%1.6100.0%8213014
Martin Hanzal168344078.4%2.479.2%6515713
Lauri Korpikoski182323389.5%1.985.8%7013112
Oliver Ekman-Larsson210314476.9%2.199.1%8117312
Keith Yandle212295675.1%2.7100.0%8221911
Martin Erat1862722911.8%1.287.7%728910
Rob Klinkhammer109161639.8%1.551.4%42636
David Moss156153154.8%2.073.6%601226
Michael Stone123142735.1%2.258.0%481065
Kyle Chipchura1791312610.3%0.784.4%69495
Jeff Halpern184101347.5%0.786.8%71524
Derek Morris16172223.2%1.475.9%62863
Brandon Yip716777.8%1.133.5%27302
Tim Kennedy775885.7%1.136.3%30342
Zbynek Michalek15541972.0%1.373.1%60762
Paul Bissonnettte983535.7%0.546.2%38211
David Schlemko12431541.9%1.258.5%48601
Jordan Szwarz2632512.0%1.012.3%10101
Chris Summers452326.3%0.721.2%17121
Brandon McMillan532633.2%1.225.0%21241
Connor Murphy301303.3%1.014.2%12120
Andy Miele150100.0%0.77.1%640
Brandon Gormley5040.0%0.82.4%220
Lucas Lessio3040.0%1.31.4%120
Total2371 SH199 GF


Mike Smith9469487538764.2%0.5192.1%3156162514961292.5
Mark Visentin593230.4%0.5490.6%20111013.1
Total210 GA



Mike Burse


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