The Arizona Coyotes‘ 2021-22 season is fast approaching, with opening night only fifteen days away. While the upcoming season looks to be an underwhelming one for the team as they start their rebuild, there’s still plenty to play for this season, as three incoming players are looking to accomplish milestones this season.
While many might be quick to turn a blind eye towards the Coyotes this season, guys like Carter Hutton, Loui Eriksson, Alex Galchenyuk, and Andrew Ladd are looking to get their careers back on track, all while hoping to accomplish personal milestones.
Many would be quick to forget Loui Eriksson’s past five seasons in Vancouver, and that’s understandable. After a 2015-16 season which saw him record 30 goals and 33 assists in 82 games, many were shocked when he decided to leave Boston for the Vancouver Canucks during the offseason. Things quickly went downhill for the Swede upon arriving in British Columbia, as he failed to play a full season over the next two years.
In addition to failing to stay healthy, Eriksson struggled to find his game over the next five seasons, as he only recorded more than 25 points once. In total, he amassed 38 goals and 52 assists in 252 games during his stint in Vancouver. That led to him being traded to Arizona, along with teammates Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and the ninth pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (Dylan Guenther), in exchange for Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Despite his decrease in production over the last five years, which the Coyotes hope he can find again on a struggling, rebuilding team, Eriksson is driven to turn his career back around after a change in scenery. In addition, he is 23 games away from having played 1,000 games in the NHL, which is no small feat. Hopefully he can stay healthy and off waivers, because last season he only played in seven.
At one point Carter Hutton was the hottest backup goalie in not only the Central Division, but in the entire NHL. After a successful three seasons in Nashville backing up Pekka Rinne, Hutton left for another Central Division team, the St. Louis Blues. Hutton put up his best stats in 2017-18 with the Blues, going 17-7-3, while recording a .931 save percentage and a 2.09 goals-against-average.
Hutton’s strong numbers in 2017-18 earned him a contract with the Buffalo Sabres, which gave him his first chance to be a starting goalie. Things did not pan out for him in Buffalo over the next three years, and he struggled at times to maintain the starting role, this before eventually losing it this past season to Linus Ullmark. Hutton ultimately went 31-49-10 in 90 games during his less-than-memorable time with Buffalo, adding a .902 save percentage and a 3.12 goals-against average.
Hutton luckily has things to look forward to this season, as he makes his return to the Central Division, where he registered his best numbers in his first six years of his career. The 35-year-old Canadian is also six wins away from 100 career wins, and seeing as the Coyotes aren’t in a spot to compete this season, it would surprise most to see Hutton steal six wins this year.
Quite possibly the most intriguing name on the team this season is former two-time Stanley Cup champion Andrew Ladd. Once thought to be done and retired, Andrew Ladd has his intentions set on proving he can still compete and play in the NHL. After playing 34 American Hockey League (AHL) games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, along with four NHL games in the 2019-20 season, Ladd only suited up for one game this past year in the AHL.
Even though 35-year-old winger intends on playing, there appears to be some doubt on how long his career can last. Nevertheless, Ladd will have a brand new challenge this upcoming season, as he looks to play in his first NHL game in nearly two years, while also trying to reaching some personal milestones along the way. He’s currently 50 games away from 1,000, 51 goals away from 300, and 11 assists away from 300.
While it’s hard to imagine him putting up 51 goals this season, as long as he can stay healthy, it’s very likely that he can reach 300 career assists and 1,000 career games. The Canadian forward still feels like he has a lot to prove this year and regardless of what happens, his role as one of the team’s leaders will be present in Arizona this season.
The Coyotes have stated that they’re out to surprise people this season. While they most likely will not be competing for a playoff spot, expect the Coyotes to embrace an underdog role and pull off some upsets. The team has a revamped roster full of guys trying to reach personal milestones, and play for their careers. Time will tell, but expect the Coyotes to lay it all on the line every game, and give everything they’ve got.
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Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 16 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.