Arizona Coyotes 2022-23 Season Preview

The Arizona Coyotes officially kick off year two of their current rebuild as they begin their 2022-23 campaign on Thursday night in Pittsburgh against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. With the team set on the focus of development and rebuilding, we get you caught up on everything Coyotes related ahead of Thursday night’s season debut.

Barrett Hayton Arizona Coyotes
Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Coyotes enter this season after finishing eighth in the Central Division with a 25-50-7 record and missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year. With a slew of new faces on the roster, including some exciting prospects such as Dylan Guenther and Matias Maccelli, the optimism surrounding the franchise’s future is bright. For now, they set their focus on potentially selecting and adding another piece to their core in prized projected first-overall pick Conor Bedard.

Coyotes’ Continued Growth & Development

For the Coyotes, the biggest area of focus this season will be the continued growth and development of their core and prospects. They will enter the season led by their core of Clayton Keller, Barrett Hayton, Lawson Crouse, and Karel Vejmelka. After breakout seasons from Hayton and Crouse, a surprise rookie season from Vejmelka, along with a bounce-back year from Keller, the team will rely heavily on these individuals if they plan to steal some wins this season.

Related: Coyotes’ Road to the Future Begins in Tucson

On the other side is the team’s future. This includes 2021 ninth-overall selection Guenther, one of the Coyotes’ most exciting prospects who made the opening roster and will get a nine-game trial. Other names to keep tabs on this season are Maccelli and Jack McBain who both made the opening night roster; along with Conor Geekie, Logan Cooley, Maveric Lamoureux, Victor Söderström, Nathan Smith, Jan Jeník, and John Farinacci. These players are the key pieces of the team’s bright future.

New Faces In the Desert

The Coyotes departed from a bunch of veterans this offseason, including Phil Kessel who stayed in the desert, but with Vegas, while welcoming a slew of new faces to the Valley. This offseason’s additions for the Coyotes included veteran forwards Nick Bjugstad and Zack Kassian, along with defensemen Patrik Nemeth, Josh Brown, Juuso Välimäki, and Troy Stecher. They also added to their goaltending department, bringing in Jon Gillies and Jonas Johansson, as well as Connor Ingram who was claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators on Monday.

Karel Vejmelka Arizona Coyotes
Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Coyotes added a combined 2,191 games of NHL experience to their roster this offseason, many of whom are expected to take on leadership/mentor roles in the locker room. They claimed a reliable backup to Vejmelka in Ingram, who finished last season with a record of 1-2-0 in three games with the Predators. They also added grit in Kassian whose job will be to protect the team’s young guns.

Despite the additions, the Coyotes made their fair share of departures. Along with Kessel, the Coyotes parted ways with forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Alex Galchenyuk, defensemen Anton Stralman, Kyle Capobianco, and goaltender Harri Säteri. At first glance Arizona seems to have gotten better on paper, at least a tad bit, don’t expect anything less. While this season will be exciting to watch and a chance for some young guys to make a name for themselves, they’re expected to be bottom dwellers yet again for another season before hopefully competing for a Central Division title.

New Home, New Arena

Perhaps the biggest news for the Coyotes this offseason was the announcement of their temporary move to Mullet Arena, Arizona State University’s new 5,000-seat arena in Tempe for the next three seasons while they await word on their $2 billion arena proposal. In order to accommodate the move, the Coyotes had to pay $25 million in upgrades to get the arena up to NHL standards. This included NHL-quality home and away dressing rooms, nutrition stations, coaches rooms, team storage, and a fitness room, in addition to a reserved chilling capacity for the ice plant, enhanced broadcasting infrastructure, media and medical services, and analytics and replay capabilities.

Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez
Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez (Jeff Kunowski / Arizona State University)

The move to the east side of the Valley marks a commitment to the state of Arizona. With constant attendance issues dating back to 2003, Arizona hopes the move to the East Valley, where a majority of their fan base derives from, will help bring in a new wave of fans. The move to Tempe will bring its fair share of troubles though. As the team awaits final renovations to wrap up, the Coyotes as a result will play 20 of their first 24 games on the road.

Final Thoughts, Biggest Questions

The Coyotes have another long season ahead. With the apparent departure of defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun looming ahead along with others, general manager Bill Armstrong will be focused on continuing to stockpile draft picks and build for the future. This team will look widely different after the trade deadline but nevertheless, the Coyotes are on the right path.

The biggest question: how do the Coyotes finish this season? While they still have a ways to go, there’s a lot to look forward to. Guys like Schmaltz, Keller, Crouse, and Hayton hope to continue their growth and build off successful seasons, while others will be looking to revitalize their careers. One thing is for certain, they will keep growing and keep fighting. Buckle up Coyotes fans, another long, but hopefully exciting season is just about to start. Thursday night in Pittsburgh will give us an early look at this new team.

What do you think? Where do the Coyotes finish the year? Let us know below, and check out the rest of our work on The Hockey Writers.

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