The NHL Draft Lottery was held last weekend in Toronto and the Arizona Coyotes held firm in their position, ending up with the seventh overall pick in this year’s upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Arizona missed out on moving up and potentially getting to choose hometown product Auston Matthews, but they did not fall in the draft order like they did a year ago when the Edmonton Oilers knocked the Coyotes down a slot. While the numbered balls did not fall Arizona’s way this year, there are some other key numbers for them to focus on when it comes to next season.
This season, the Coyotes averaged 2.54 goals per game, which ranked 24th in the league. While this might not be a very impressive mark, it was a big jump from the miserable 2.01 goals per game that Arizona put up in the 2014-15 season. Three Coyotes scored at least 20 goals this season (Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Anthony Duclair) and another two netted at least 15 (Max Domi and Antoine Vermette). By comparison, Ekman-Larsson and Sam Gagner were the only Coyotes to break the 15-goal barrier in 2014-15. Although Arizona still missed the playoffs this year, they took steps in the right direction and the offense played a big part in their drastic improvement from a year ago.
This number carried both a positive and a negative stat for the Coyotes this year. On the downside, Arizona surrendered a stunning 14 shorthanded goals during the 2015-16 season. That matches their shorthanded goals against total from the previous three seasons combined. Special teams hurt the Coyotes this year on both sides as they also finished 28th in the league in penalty killing.
On the plus side, Arizona forward Tobias Rieder scored 14 goals in his sophomore campaign this year, one better than his rookie season output. Rieder, along with teammates Max Domi and Connor Murphy, will be playing in the IIHF World Championship in Russia starting on Friday. This will be Rieder’s third appearance at this tournament, having contributed a goal and three assists for Team Germany in the last two years. The IIHF World Championship will help give the young Coyotes some extra seasoning as they start preparing for the fall.
The London Knights are steamrolling through the OHL playoffs, going 12-2 through the first three rounds and capturing the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as the league’s Western Conference champions. Arizona prospect Christian Dvorak has helped power London’s playoff run with 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists) in 14 games. Dvorak scored 10 of those points (four goals and six assists) in the last round as the Knights swept the Erie Otters. With this incredible performance, the anticipation of Dvorak’s arrival in the desert continues to build and fans cannot wait to see what he can bring to training camp in September.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.