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

Year Team Goal Differential Conference Standing Result
2005-06 Tampa Bay Lightning -8 8 Lost in Quarterfinals
2005-06 Montreal Canadiens -4 7 Lost in Quarterfinals
2006-07 Tampa Bay Lightning -8 7 Lost in Quarterfinals
2007-08 Boston Bruins -10 8 Lost in Quarterfinals
2008-09 Columbus Blue Jackets -4 7 Lost in Quarterfinals
2008-09 New York Rangers -8 7 Lost in Quarterfinals
2009-10 Montreal Canadiens -6 8 Lost in Quarterfinals
2009-10 Ottawa Senators -13 5 Lost in Quarterfinals
2011-12 Washington Capitals -8 7 Lost in Quarterfinals
2011-12 Florida Panthers -24 3 (SE Division) Lost in Quarterfinals
2012-13 Minnesota Wild -5 8 Lost in Quarterfinals
2013-14 Detroit Red Wings -8 8 (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.

Player GP G SH SH% SH/GP GP% PRJGP PRJSH PRJG
Radim Vrbata 191 67 601 11.1% 3.1 90.1% 74 232 26
Shane Doan 196 58 522 11.1% 2.7 92.5% 76 202 22
Antione Vermette 212 48 400 12.0% 1.9 100.0% 82 155 19
Mike Ribeiro 202 47 315 14.9% 1.6 95.3% 78 122 18
Mikkel Boedker 212 37 335 11.0% 1.6 100.0% 82 130 14
Martin Hanzal 168 34 407 8.4% 2.4 79.2% 65 157 13
Lauri Korpikoski 182 32 338 9.5% 1.9 85.8% 70 131 12
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 210 31 447 6.9% 2.1 99.1% 81 173 12
Keith Yandle 212 29 567 5.1% 2.7 100.0% 82 219 11
Martin Erat 186 27 229 11.8% 1.2 87.7% 72 89 10
Rob Klinkhammer 109 16 163 9.8% 1.5 51.4% 42 63 6
David Moss 156 15 315 4.8% 2.0 73.6% 60 122 6
Michael Stone 123 14 273 5.1% 2.2 58.0% 48 106 5
Kyle Chipchura 179 13 126 10.3% 0.7 84.4% 69 49 5
Jeff Halpern 184 10 134 7.5% 0.7 86.8% 71 52 4
Derek Morris 161 7 222 3.2% 1.4 75.9% 62 86 3
Brandon Yip 71 6 77 7.8% 1.1 33.5% 27 30 2
Tim Kennedy 77 5 88 5.7% 1.1 36.3% 30 34 2
Zbynek Michalek 155 4 197 2.0% 1.3 73.1% 60 76 2
Paul Bissonnettte 98 3 53 5.7% 0.5 46.2% 38 21 1
David Schlemko 124 3 154 1.9% 1.2 58.5% 48 60 1
Jordan Szwarz 26 3 25 12.0% 1.0 12.3% 10 10 1
Chris Summers 45 2 32 6.3% 0.7 21.2% 17 12 1
Brandon McMillan 53 2 63 3.2% 1.2 25.0% 21 24 1
Connor Murphy 30 1 30 3.3% 1.0 14.2% 12 12 0
Andy Miele 15 0 10 0.0% 0.7 7.1% 6 4 0
Brandon Gormley 5 0 4 0.0% 0.8 2.4% 2 2 0
Lucas Lessio 3 0 4 0.0% 1.3 1.4% 1 2 0
Total 2371 SH 199 GF

 

Goalie MIN SA GA MIN% SA/MIN SV% PRJMIN PRJSH PRJSV PRJGA PRJGAA
Mike Smith 9469 4875 387 64.2% 0.51 92.1% 3156 1625 1496 129 2.5
Mark Visentin 59 32 3 0.4% 0.54 90.6% 20 11 10 1 3.1
Other 1744 922 842
Total 210 GA

 

 

Mike Burse
Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for The Hockey Writers. Also creator of Mikes Mumbles, the first home to Women's Hockey statistics and analytics. Making the numbers make sense.
Mike Burse

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